People are always asking me whether any of that equipment and programs you see on late night television work.

My stock answer is that it depends on what you want it to do. If, like a treadmill or an elliptical trainer,  it allows you to move some of the large muscle groups  by simulating running or cross-country skiing or swimming, then it probably boosts your heart rate and provides you with an aerobic workout. You do, however, need to view the claims with some scepticism.

If it stresses particular muscle groups like a Bowflex, then it probably provides a decent resistance workout, and over time it will strengthen muscles. Again, watch the claims.

If , on the other hand, it vibrates you into fitness, you would do better to spend  your money on a gym membership or a membership to a community centre. Similarly, if it shoots electric currents into the muscles to  simulate contractions thereby giving you a workout, stick your finger in a light socket. It will hurt as much as paying off that MasterCard bill.

Your guideline is if it works the muscle, it’s not bad, but if it wriggles, juggles or electrocutes it, forget it.

Here are a three instruments of torture that have graced my tube in the past.


I have a confession to make. Ever since I got into the fitness industry as an instructor some 20 plus years ago, I always wanted to try out one of those Vibrating Belts.  Unfortunately for me, and fortunately for you, these have gone the way of the Edsel. (Although when I told my clss about it this morning, one of my participants said she saw some for sale in Toronto last week. They sold Belt Vibrators and juke boxes and pinball machines as well, so it may have been a retro store).

I wouldn’t have  any thoughts of getting a workout from it. I just like the idea of getting a good jiggle.


This was a little piece of equipment that you and Suzanne Summers would plant between your legs and squeeze your knees together thereby strengthening the muscles of the inner thigh, or the adductors. Most fitness experts contend that that is a muscle group that doesn’t need training. I take another view. If a limb can be moved in any direction (Abduction Adduction, Flexion or Extension) it’s a muscle group that is doing it. If it’s there, it can be trained.

 Consider swimmers – particularly competieive breasr strokers who use the whip kick. This demands strong adductors, so the thighmaster might be a good one – especially since the working of the inner thighs is passé.


There is no evidence that electronic muscle stimulators work, or whether they are safe, or whether they heart. While I have never heard of anyone going into ventricular fibrillation because they interfered with the heart rhythm, that doesn’t mean that it won’t.

 Remember, that’s what they say about tasers.

 That was three faded fitness gadgets. If you can think of any others, please leave a comment.

 Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. or at 604-464-4195.  If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.




One Response to “FADED FITNESS FADS”

  1. Sharon Says:

    Good advice given with some grins. Great job, as always, Mike.

    Remember those old grippers with heavy duty spring to exercise hand and lower arm muscles. Mine made a great paperweight.

    I occasionally use my inflatable exercise ball. It also makes a great bouncer for the little ones and works well for little people dodgeball. I roll it at them. They like getting hit as well as when they dodge it.

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