The best way to stay fit is still diet and exercise. Don’t waste your money on these fitness and weight loss scams.
Fitness fads come and go in Singapore, but one thing always remains: somewhere out there, somebody is looking to cash in on the latest one. The number of ways to get fit hasn’t changed for all of human history. It’s always been diet and exercise, just like we did in Ancient Rome, when the Pyramids were being built, or when humans lived in caves.
In spite of that, there’s always new gimmick being marketed in Singapore promising fast weight loss. Here are some fitness scams and rip-offs to watch for:
1. Fad Routines
The most notorious fad routine (that’s now been exposed as such) is P90X. This is a 90 day diet and exercise regime that is extremely intense, and is guaranteed to cause weight loss. The theory is that it “confused” your muscles by rotating the types of exercise.
Now P90X does work, but see if you can spot the deception: what happens to anyone’s body, if they diet and exercise for 90 days? That’s right: they’d lose weight.
All the talk about “confusing” muscles is just marketing spiel, and the creator of P90X mostly admitted it in a New York Times interview. When terms like P90X are used, it creates branding: the name is used to justify a higher price for coaching, as it’s a “special” method. In reality, it’s just the same as any intense workout programme.
So the next time you’re offered a higher priced package, and it involves a lot of diet and exercise, question if you should pay the premium. You’re probably doing the same thing as a regular workout package.
(An exception to this are exercise methods meant for highly specialised purposes, such as for medical rehabilitation, or to train you for a specific sport like gymnastics).
2. “One Day Left” Discounts at the Gym
One of the most common sales tactics at the gym is to pressure you with a limited time offer. After your free trial, the salesperson will sit you down and talk about the benefits of membership. This often concludes with an eye-popping sum, but don’t worry: there’s a huge discount right now. It’s almost half price. The condition is, the sale is expiring today.
This is almost always a con-job. Anyone can arbitrarily pad their price by 50 per cent, and then put in a 50 per cent discount (e.g. Instead of selling you the package for S$1,200, I offer it at S$2,400 but with 50 per cent off)
The time limit is just to pressure you to sign up on the spot, as they know you likely won’t come back after their aggressive tactics.
3. “Tested” and “Verified” Supplements Can Be a Ripoff
The industry for supplements (particularly the muscle building type) is fraught with issues, because for every respectable company there are dozen scams. In 2014, Raw Deal Inc. (a supplement producer) demonstrated that even with government checks buyers aren’t safe from rip-offs.
Raw Deal Inc. would add fillers to dilute their supplements. So while the ingredients and quantity were correct during government inspections, they would be diluted to make more product before being sold to consumers.
In 2013, it was discovered that many supplement manufacturers in the United States have shady backgrounds. Some were involved in the creation of illegal drugs, like methamphetamine, before they started brewing supplements. Think about that before forking out a lot of money for supplements.
And throughout all this, we are still only assuming supplements work. It is difficult to test whether they fulfill their advertisements, as everyone’s body absorbs the supplements differently.
Overall it’s best to rely on your family doctor’s opinion, rather than trying to filter out the sales pitches for supplements.
4. Instagram Fitness Scams
Instagram has become the medium of choice among fitness scammers. These people pretend to start out as being flabby or unfit, and then “chronicle” their journey to looking better. They then often sell services as fitness coaches, or recommend supplements or exercise gear.
But the increasing number of exposés suggests many of them may be frauds. The images used are often heavily edited, through tools such as Photoshop. Sometimes, the before and after images are even taken on the same day, and then edited to make them look different.
Not all Instagram scammers do this for money – some just enjoy fame and attention. But when they start to plug products or gyms or services, look out. It might be a con-job.
5. Multi-Level Marketing Recruitment Disguised as Fitness Clubs
You may have been approached to join “free” clubs, that promise to be a community to help all members lose weight. One company is well known for doing this in Singapore.
What you need to understand about these clubs is that, while they’re free, they have products that are not. Often, the clubs are an attempt to recruit you to join a Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) programme. You will be asked to buy and then resell supplements, supposedly in a way that also makes you an income.
Don’t get pressured into buying or taking part. If you join the club, you will be hemmed in by dozens of people who try to persuade you to sign-up. You’re better off working out on your own.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.