If you've ever had the misfortune of flicking on day-time TV, chances are you've seen one of these exercise machines (or something very similar) being sold for three easy payments of way more than they are worth. They are also generally being demonstrated by a five per cent body-fat model who has clearly never used it before in their life.
It seems that for as long as the notion of exercise has been around, there have been those who want the results without putting in the work. They are generally the same people who would prefer to put their faith in cookie diets and lunchtime stomach staples rather than eat healthy, natural food.
Unfortunately, most machines that "do the exercise for you" will only serve to lighten your wallet – and probably make you look very silly in the process. Here are just a few of the worst offenders among the ever-growing list of get-fit-quick schemes.
The shake weight is probably the most recognized of the ridiculous exercise machines – it even spawned its own episode of South Park.
The claim: constant instability forces your muscles to work harder than conventional dumbbell exercises.
The truth: working your muscles from different angles is a great way to activate new muscle fibres; however, the Shake Weight doesn't address the basic principle of progressive overload, not to mention working your muscles through a full range of motion.
Your move: if you want to incorporate instability into your workout, use more proven methods like sandbags, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises.
You could be forgiven for thinking the Free Flexor is a new "member" of the Shake Weight family. Instead of shaking back and forth, the Free Flexor rotates in circles.
The claim: like its back and forth predecessor, the Free Flexor appeals to the idea of working your muscles from all angles. Unfortunately, it also falls over in the same area, failing the basic principle of progressive overload. It also looks more like a dog's chew toy than an all-in-one full-body workout.
Horse riding fitness ace power
Finally, a machine for those of us who like to ride horses at home in front of the TV!
The claim: this machine takes the core workout of riding a 1,000 kilo horse and puts it into something that resembles a tiny, broken ironing board.
The truth: squatting and rotating through the hips is a great way to develop strength and mobility, but the mechanics of this machine are about as silly as the people look who are "riding" it.
Your move: next time you want to work your core with a ride, get some fresh air and a real horse.
The Face Trainer
Have you been squatting, deadlifting, benching and curling your way to a better body and neglecting to train your lazy face? For shame.
Luckily, there's now this fetching headgear to help you out.
The claim the Face Trainer is an "endurance-based, high-repetition form of resistance training for all 44 bilaterally symmetrical muscles of the face and neck."
The truth: being able to count the number of muscles in the face and neck doesn't mean you know how to train them. It is technically possible to strengthen the muscles in your face via chewing, squinting, smiling etc. What's not possible is strengthening your muscles by squashing them into a straightjacket for your face.
The claim: "if you can sit, you can get fit!" Another one from the "it does the exercise for you" school of thought, the Hawaii Chair rotates in a circular motion, forcing your waist, thighs and buttocks to "thaw and loosen redundant fat."
The truth: first off, the fat around your midsection is not an iceberg, it can't be melted. Secondly, the main purpose of your core muscles is to stabilize the spine; the Hawaii Chair appears to do the exact opposite of that.
It's a bike, in a spa . . . Just in case the strain of riding a stationary bike (which has an adjustable resistance) was too tough.
The claim: combining physical activity with hydrotherapy using water jets directed at strategic points along the body helps burn more kilojoules than traditional stationary cycling.
The truth: you're riding a bike in the bath . . .It's true that water provides more resistance than air, but riding a normal bike outside (and actually going somewhere) will provide a much greater cardio and muscular endurance workout.