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Ab Circle Redux

June 24, 2010

Just when I thought it was safe to look at the Ab Circle Pro column of my tweetdeck, I get this tidbit of news:

Scientists and Stars Agree: Ab Circle Pro Scores Well With Both

With a link to this press release.  Of course I was laughing when I saw the title, and I continued to laugh for awhile as I read this press release and then I just got angry…again!!  I am so tired of the stupid products that people try to foist on us,  and the even stupider techniques people use to achieve this.  I am going to go through this press release line by line and show why this is so stupid and hopefully I can ignore this company for a little while.

The Stars

As recently reported by Us Magazine and others, Jennifer Love Hewitt, star of TV’s Ghost Whisperer, is enjoying her new trim figure.  “I just got this machine called the Ab Circle Pro — I ordered it off TV, and I love it!” the 31-year-old star says about the fitness machine that helped her get her flat belly and maintain her weight loss.  She adds: “It’s amazing. It’s probably my best secret!”

First and foremost, I think Jennifer Love Hewitt is a beautiful  girl, but I don’t follow her career and I missed out on the whole Party of Five thing.  I do know that from time to time she is reported as having weight problems, and it does appear that she has struggled for weight.  All of this said, she is a celebrity and staying fit is HER JOB!  Don’t ever listen to what a celebrity does to lose weight.  I know you want to.  I know that for some reason, especially when we are younger, we want to trust people we admire and we want to imitate them.  I am sure it is human nature, but please, for the sake of your fitness and the fitness of everyone else, please fight this urge.  You have to find ways to be fit in YOUR life.  Find role models who live similar lifestyles because the techniques they use, the motivators and the activities are much more likely to work for you.  Celebrities are NOTHING like you.  I remember watching Kirsty Alley flopping around her massive gym/living room in her mansion on the first episode of her A&E show.  Then she had her assistant’s assistant schedule interviews for personal trainers.  Does this sound like how you spend your afternoon?

So, that massive disclaimer out of the way, there are some serious warning signs with the quote.  “I just got this machine called the Ab Circle Pro — I ordered it off TV, and I love it!”  It is great that you just got it and you love it, but let’s see what impact it has for you over time, not in its first week or so…  Hell, why wait for the long run when this is “the fitness machine that helped her get her flat belly and maintain her weight loss.  She adds: “It’s amazing. It’s probably my best secret!””  Wow.  This is quite the device.  She just got it and not only has it already given her a flat belly, but it has actually helped her maintain her weight loss… BULLSHIT!!  Either the writer of this press release has a skewed concept of time and flat bellies, or they are manufacturing information that isn’t apparent in her quotes…  Maybe they have some other evidence to come up with this statement though.  After all, maybe Jennifer Love Hewitt has lost a lot of weight recently.

Wow… look at her.  First and foremost those were the biggest eighteen pounds I have ever seen.  How come her fat cells are so much larger than mine.  I don’t want light fat cells like her, but I am curious because the difference in those two shots… If I didn’t know better, and know the journalistic standards of a magazine like US, I would think that the before picture might have been taken after the after picture…  Well, still that is a pretty flat stomach, maybe they have me… Oh, wait, this magazine was published in August of 2008…  So, they clearly aren’t talking about this weightloss of hers.  In fact, as I try to look for her being overweight, since those photos, I seriously can’t find anything…  Here is a photo chronicle of her weight ups and downs… and note, it doesn’t look like she is overweight in any of them, just in more or less revealing outfits…  Could it be that the tabloid media  is fabricating weight stories where there are none.  To quote Jennifer Love Hewitt herself:

“One of the magazines admitted that it had added extra weight to the pictures, and it concerns me that young girls reading those stories don’t know that. All they know is that they are sitting at home, maybe four or five sizes bigger than me, and their role model is called a “big house”  –  what does that do to them?”

I cannot believe that this ‘weight roller coaster’ has been making the news for years, but putting that aside, here is what the original article said about her exercise:

Who would of thought that Ghost Whisperer, Jennifer Love Hewitt watches infomercials? Apparently she does as in a recent interview she said she ordered the Ab Circle Pro off of the television and she loves it. She said,

“It’s amazing. It’s probably my best secret.”

Apart from the abs workout Jennifer will work her upper body by doing exercises such as push-ups, dumbbell flys, bench presses, shoulder presses and bicep curls, three to four times a week. For her lower body she’ll do lunges and squats and then do some core work by doing 30-second body planks.

And that’s not all! She still has cardio. With her trainer, Jennifer will do mixed interval training such as 10 minutes on the treadmill and then jump roping. She continued,

“On days that I can’t get to her, I do the elliptical or the treadmill for 30 minutes or so each time.”

Well, we now know how she lost 15 pounds last summer. She looks great and she’s definitely dedicated to her workout regime.

Ya, that is quite the regiment…  I didn’t see the 3 minute a day ab circle pro ad people telling me I would have to work out like a freakin’ olympic athlete to make the Ab Circle Pro work…  Seriously, have you ever done mixed interval training before?  I have!  It is the gold standard of puke inducing exercise.  I used to do a routine with 5 minutes running hard on the treadmill followed by 5 minutes of whatever the trainer put in front of me, rope jumping, one legged box step overs, push ups, power squats, you name it.  It was hell.  While you were doing one you were thinking, “oh, god I just need to get back to the other, it wasn’t so bad, and then you switch back and you think, oh god this is hell, let me get to the other…”  All of the things she does are exercise… the ab circle, not so much.

Even I am stunned how you can get a press release out of so little information.  Then again, this isn’t the first time that US ran that same story with differing claims of weight loss (June 8, 2010 -18 pounds, April 5, 2010 15 pounds).  In fact,  the article of April 5th opened with “How did Jennifer Love Hewitt get her hot bod?  An infomercial!” and then went on to lay out the routine that she used above.  Maybe I shouldn’t blame the writer of the press release for this incredibly stupid, mind blowingly stupid statement.  It is entirely possible that the writer at US magazine who wrote that article did not realize just how stupid that line was, but I honestly can’t believe anyone is that dumb.  I wonder if exercise equipment manufactures are paying magazines to make their equipment look good by over stating them in ‘news’ articles.  If they aren’t yet, it is only a matter of time.  Hey Michael Casey, CEO of Fitness Brands, please ignore these last few sentences if this idea isn’t already part of your arsenal of advertising plans.

The Scientists

Okay, so we have tackled the bizarre celebrity claim, what about the scientists, are they gaga for the Ab Circle Pro?

A test recently conducted at Eastern Illinois University by graduate student Maranda Rehg, along with two assistant professors, also gave favorable marks to the Ab Circle Pro.  The study measured the effectives of the Ab Circle Pro when compared to the activation of specific core muscles during traditional exercises.  Caloric expenditure during treadmill walking vs. exercising on the Ab Circle Pro was also investigated with the 12 test subjects.

So, we have a test conducted at Easter Illinois University by a graduate student.  That sounds a lot like a thesis project by a student.  I wonder if it was.  The closest thing to the actual study that I can find is a report in this magazine, Studies for a Better World that states the outcome.  The magazine does in fact say what the press release says it does:

As reported in the Studies for a Better World supplement to the Journal Gazette & Times Courier, “the researchers found that the Ab Circle produced equal or superior muscle activity vs. the crunch, side bridge and quadruped.  The Ab Circle provided a highly efficient workout that addressed all core muscles simultaneously.”  It also determined that an equal number of calories were expended when compared to treadmill walking.  As summarized by the article, “the Ab Circle provided an efficient combination of muscle conditioning, and calorie-burning benefits all in one machine.”

This looks like a positive report, but there are some issues.  First and foremost, it would be important to know if this study is going to be published and peer reviewed.  As well, it would be nice to know if this was paid for research or not.  You cannot discount paid for research, but given that this was a student and not an experienced scientist, it might color my reading of the report.  Why you ask?

Because he gave the product a positive review.  Here is a $200 device that performs as well as…nothing, a free floor you can walk and sit on.  You can walk and burn as many calories, you can do crunches, side bridges and the quadruped exercise (on all fours, alternating lifting one opposite leg and arm at a time and then switching to the others), and produce equal muscle activity (note they said in the report equal or superior, this is true even if they are only equal.  As well, they don’t report how superior the exercises are which is quite suspect).  How is that a positive review.  As well, you could say, yes, but you get both from the ab circle pro, you burn calories and you work the muscles at the same time, and that is great, but you are burning calories while doing crunches.  You are burning a lot of calories actually…  This report is essentially the same as the Consumer Reports review, but they called it a bust, because  it is.  In fact, it is just the fact that they call it effective because it works as well as the free item it is replacing that makes this report something they don’t have to bury.  The Abdoer had an equally damning report from the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Seriously, these people who are suggesting you can have a body like Jennifer Nicole Lee in just 3 minutes a day with nothing more than your Ab Circle Pro, which isn’t a lie, because they are only suggesting it-it would be a lie if they stated it, are standing behind and producing Press Releases that are proud that scientists have found that their $200+ dollar piece of landfill filler is actually no better than crunches and walks.  I do want to say again, that if your cardio consists of 3 minute walks you NEED to ramp up your fitness.  You are one foot in the grave and you need to be able to do better!  Unless you are injured, infirm or elderly, you should be able to run 5k without stopping.

Seriously, walk for 3 minutes at 3 mph and get fit!?!?!That is stupid.  We aren’t stupid, so let’s stop listening to anything these people say.  The 3 minutes a day is a lie, plain and simple and they know it.  According to the press release:

Personally conducted reviews have also proven favorable.  In Maxim’s Grooming Guide by William Buckley, he agreed that if your core is what you are focusing on, the Ab Circle Pro does just that.  “This sets it apart from other cardio exercise like running or biking … ” he noted.  “We noticed a definite increase in definition after 2-3 weeks using the Ab Circle Pro 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day.”

So, now personal reviews by Maxim are actually news…  Whatever, but notice the 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day…  They noticed an increase in definition after 2-3 weeks at this intensity?!?!  First, is it 2 weeks or 3 weeks, how vague was the research you did William?  Second, I would hope you would have an increase in definition if you used it 5 times a week for 30 minutes a day!!  What was the intensity during these workouts?  How fit were the people beforehand?  Did they lose weight?  This press release is complete crap as I will continue to affirm is the Ab Circle Pro.  It is crap because it is just a tool for doing some ab exercises, which wouldn’t be altogether bad if that was what they said it was, but they don’t.  As well, the number of reports of people being hurt, falling of this thing and the sore knees tells me that crunches, planks, and side planks are a much better solution, along with real cardio, like running.

Oh, by the way, Jennifer Love Hewitt agrees.  According to a 2009 article in US magazine:

Jennifer Love Hewitt — who underwent scrutiny last year for unflattering photos of her in a bikini — is back in shape. And in October’s Shape, she shares some practical tips.

“Instead of piling up food in my fridge that says, ‘Come eat me!’ I keep enough for only a couple of days,” the actress, 30, says.

See more stars’ hot body secrets!

“And I rarely have treats around that might tempt me late at night, which is when I usually crave something really fattening,” she adds. “What am I going to do? Drive out at 11 at night just to satisfy a craving? No, that’s crazy.”

Boyfriend of seven months Jamie Kennedy, who costars with her on CBS’ Ghost Whisperer, also helps.

See how Jennifer Love Hewitt’s body has changed

“He’s inspired me to improve my diet,” she says. “He has a salad with every meal, plus lots of fruit, fish, and vegetables.”

Every morning during a trip to Monaco last summer, “We ran for 40 minutes through the streets of Monte Carlo. It was an amazing way to see the city. Now when we travel, we try to explore the places by running.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. martin d permalink
    September 10, 2010 7:32 am

    i bought on from the british site http://www.ab-circle.co.uk. It arrived in good time and seems ok.. the only problem i have is not really with the machine – i packed up smoking about a week ago and in finding it hard work… hopefully doing a bit of excercise will help!

    • YouAreNotAFitPerson permalink*
      September 10, 2010 11:11 am

      Quitting smoking is very hard. My brother did it and has gone cigarette free for 2 years. Exercise helped him a lot, so go for it. Set a reasonable and healthy exercise plan and stick to it! Good luck!

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