Avoiding Fitness Scams & Frauds

For Fitness Professionals, the most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. January 1st begins the busiest time of the year with many people either making new fitness and health resolutions or getting back to business as usual after the holidays. But, buyer beware as this is also the time of year when scammers come out to prey on those who are looking for a quick and easy solution. What are signs that a product or service is a scam? Here are some helpful tips to help you identify a scam and steer clear:

Specific claims that you will lose X amount of weight in a specific amount of time. For example: “Try the Wonder Shaper! Guaranteed to drop 10 pounds from your belly in 2 weeks.” Nobody can make claims like this due to individuals starting points and food intake. I can guarantee that there is fine print somewhere in the ad stating that these results would not be typical.

The last example also includes another tip off. It stated that the weight would drop from the belly. Fat spot reduction is a myth as fat tends to come off somewhat evenly across the entire body when fat loss occurs.

Everyone who has used the Internet has probably seen the ads that claim that if you follow some simple (and usually strange) tip, you will start dropping weight immediately and achieve a perfect physique. These are usually ads for supplements containing exotic or secret ingredients. While these may have some studies backing them up, the studies usually state that this ingredient may help weight loss or the weight loss is only seen in a small percentage of those tested. Again, read the fine print and do your own research on ingredients that you will and will not put in your body.

Disregard the before and after pictures. Unfortunately, these can easily have been altered with software. Lighting, posing, makeup, and clothing choice can all make a subject look more or less flattering.

There are cases in which the before and after subject used a current picture for the after and purposefully gained weight for the before. There is no limit to what people will do to get your money. A couple of quick ones:

  • Are the claims backed by scientific research or is it all testimonial based?
  • Do they claim that results are easy to achieve?
  • Read all the fine print.

In the same vein, be aware that in most states there is no statewide credentialing for personal trainers. Anybody can call themselves a personal trainer and start training clients without any education. If you are hiring a personal trainer:

  • Ask to see their Personal Trainer certification and verify that it is NCCA accredited or that they have college education in Kinesiology or Exercise Science.
  • Ask for references from their current or former clients.
  • Interview the personal trainer and make sure he/she understands what your goals are, not what the personal trainer’s goals are for you.