American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

Federal Trade CommissionIf you've ever found yourself flipping through channels late at night, you've undoubtedly come across the infomercial for the Ab Circle Pro. At first glance, you see a beautiful woman kneeling on an abdominal exercise device, using her arms to rotate her body back and forth—an exercise that looks relatively easy and low-risk. The spokeswoman compares the exercise device to a gym workout, challenging viewers that they "can either do 30 minutes of abs and cardio, or just three minutes a day. The choice is yours." The infomercial goes on to claim that using the device for just three minutes a day will help you lose as much as 10 pounds in two weeks, and features testimonials from users who claim they’ve lost as much as 60 pounds since purchasing the device. To the average consumer, it seems like a no brainer—who wants to spend 30 minutes in the gym when all you really need to spend is three minutes on the Ab Circle Pro in the comfort of your own home?

For the countless consumers that purchased the Ab Circle, it didn't take long for them to realize that these weight-loss claims were far from the truth, a fact that didn't escape the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an independent agency of the U.S. government that looks out for the interests of consumers. As part of its ongoing efforts to put an end to exaggerated health claims, the FTC recently filed deceptive advertising charges against the marketers of the Ab Circle Pro, who have agreed to pay settlements totaling as much as $25 million, depending on the number of refund requests they receive from consumers.  

"The FTC reminds marketers that they should think twice before promising a silver-bullet solution to a health problem – whether it involves losing weight or curing cancer," said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "Weight loss is hard work, and telling consumers otherwise is deceptive."If this sounds familiar, it's because it's the same lesson ACE fitness experts have been teaching for years: The best way to lose weight is to live a balanced lifestyle that incorporates sensible eating habits and regular physical activity.