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.
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