In their online Project Absurd report, the FTC offers a link to a consumer alert titled ''Avoiding the Muscle Hustle: Tips for Buying Exercise Equipment,'' which offers excellent advice to avoid being duped by overblown marketing claims.
The FTC advises consumers to:
- Ignore claims that an exercise machine or device can provide long-lasting, easy, ''no-sweat'' results in a short time. These claims are false: You can’t get the benefits of exercise unless you exercise.
- Don't fall for claims that a product can burn fat off a particular part of the body - for example, the buttocks, hips or stomach. Achieving a major change in your appearance requires sensible eating and regular exercise that works the whole body.
- Read the ad's fine print. The advertised results may be based on more than just using a machine; they also may be based on restricting calories.
- Be skeptical of testimonials and before-and-after pictures from ''satisfied'' customers. Their experiences may not be typical. Just because one person had success with the equipment doesn't mean you will, too.
- Do the calculations when you read statements like ''three easy payments of ...'' or ''only $49.95 a month.'' The advertised cost may not include shipping and handling fees, sales tax, and delivery and set-up fees. Find out the details before you order.
- Get details on warranties, guarantees and return policies. A 30-day money-back guarantee may not sound as good if you have to pay shipping on a bulky piece of equipment you want to ''return to sender.''
- Check out the company's customer and support services. Call the advertised toll-free numbers to get an idea of how easy it is to reach a company representative and how helpful he or she is.
Source: “Avoiding the Muscle Hustle: Tips for Buying Exercise Equipment” on www.ftc.gov (http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/musclealrt.htm).
This appeared in ACE FitnessMatters, ACE's official magazine.
Click here to order your subscription today.
Sign up for ACE's FREE e-newsletter for fitness enthusiasts.