Exercise ‘gimmicks’-which ones work? Part 1

Recently, an article was published in the Daily Mail featuring GRAVITY equipment, new (ish) gym kit used for resistance and core training.  A few sceptics left comments questioning the effectiveness and necessity of the machines.  “Yet another gimmick” said one reader.

Now, we have one of these machines in the studio and, not ones for gimmicks or faddy kit, we did lots of research and attended workshops and classes before purchasing it.  It has turned out to be a great addition to the studio and very useful for the rehabilitation of people with back pain which is what we primarily use it for.  

It got me thinking, there are so many ‘gimmicky’ products for weight loss and excercise-how do we know which ones work?  Over the next few weeks I’ll be commenting on the most popular ones, their claim, the principle behind it and whether they are actually worth the money.

1. ‘Toning’ Shoes (MBTs/Reebok Easytone/FitFlop)

These shoes contain technology to make them less stable than conventional shoes.  This increases muscle activity in the legs, bottom, hips and core. 

The way they are advertised would lead us to believe that wearing these shoes will give us a more perky bottom (anyone seen that Reebok ad?) and leaner, more defined legs.  There is no doubt that more muscles are recruited through the instability created but the truth is that it will make little or no difference to your appearance.

Our muscles are covered by a layer of fat.  If you have excess fat, you will see no definition of the muscle hidden underneath.  Many people will say they want to ‘tone up’ but until you lose the extra fat you’ll see no definition of the muscle underneath.  The wobbly bits aren’t loose muscle, they’re excess fat.  The only way to lose this fat is through exercise and healthy eating-not prancing around in a pair of fancy shoes.  If, however, the fancy shoes encourage you to become more active, then of course you’ll lose fat and see more definition but it’s not the shoes that have done it!

I must add though that in terms of injury rehab, these shoes can work brilliantly.  They will activate your proprioceptive muscles, strengthening and increasing stability of joints.  They also absorb more shock than conventional shoes, placing less stress on the joints which can be especially important if you’re overweight.

In summary, they won’t give you a perky bum (sorry!), they won’t help you lose weight but they are a comfortable alternative to conventional shoes and can help as part of a rehab programme if you’ve experienced a joint injury.

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