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Avoiding the Muscle Hustle: Tips for
Buying Exercise Equipment
Looking for a way to keep fit, stay
limber or lose weight? A diet of regular exercise can
Which exercise is best? The one you're
really going to do. For some people, that means working
out at home on exercise equipment.
If you're considering buying exercise
equipment, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers
this advice: Evaluate advertising claims for fitness
products carefully. Exercise — with or without
special equipment — is essential for good health.
But be skeptical of claims that you will lose several
pounds, inches or pant sizes in a short time (for example,
"7 inches in 7 days" or "3 dress sizes
in one month"). Even when combined with dietary
supplements or specialized breathing techniques, it
is virtually impossible for most consumers to achieve
such major changes in appearance in a few days or weeks.
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.
Question 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,
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
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
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.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive
and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information
to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a
complaint or to get free
information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov
or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The
FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints
Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil
and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.