If only you had a dollar for every time someone tried to sell you on the latest and greatest (and largely ineffective) fitness trend, right? You’d probably be well on your way to riches!
Everywhere you turn, from social media and the Internet to even the checkout aisle at your local grocery store, there’s a never-ending stream of new (and often conflicting) advice. It can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Since prime transformation time is nearly upon us—and we’re here to help you achieve your 2020 fitness goals—we’ve put together this list of five fitness trends to be skeptical of in 2020. If someone tries to sell you on these fitness approaches, think twice before you take the leap.
(Of course, if you want a genuinely sustainable fitness approach for the new year, you can download 8fit app.)
What’s the problem with fitness fads?
Before we get into our list, it’s helpful to know what exactly trending fitness advice is, and why it can sabotage your healthy living efforts. Keep in mind that not all fitness trends are bad; in fact, some of them—like wearable tech—are significant forward leaps in the world of health and fitness.
However, being able to recognize a questionable fitness trend for what it is will help you avoid potential pitfalls throughout your fitness journey. So how can you differentiate fitness trends to be skeptical of from ones to trust? Here are some telltale signs to look for:
The trend or advice makes outlandish claims about its purported benefits.
The trend pushes you to purchase umpteen supplements for “optimal” results.
The trend encourages you to perform an unsustainable level of activity over extended time periods.
The trend requires you to purchase gobs of equipment.
The trend doesn’t appear to rely on sound, scientific research.
Before you let clever ads and persuasive influencers convince you that a new trend is the latest, greatest, most effective solution to your fitness challenges, take the time to analyze the situation. There’s a ton of hype circulating in the world of health and fitness, and most of the time, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s our list of 2020 fitness trends to be skeptical of—let’s dive in!
Trend #1: One-off fitness challenges
If you’ve been hanging around the health and fitness sphere long, you’ve undoubtedly seen your fair share of fitness challenges—heck, you may have even entered a few. But are they really worth your time and effort?
Here’s what we’ve found: A handful of these challenges are extremely well designed and largely effective, while the majority fall woefully short of delivering any real value. So how can you determine which ones can help you achieve sustainable, long-term results?
Telltale signs of an unsustainable fitness challenge
Typically, unsustainable, one-off fitness challenges are structured in rigid, predetermined formats. They do not offer progressive levels of challenge for each participant and almost always offer cookie-cutter templates for both diet and exercise recommendations. Generally, these types of challenges also encourage you to purchase supplements or pieces of equipment that, coincidentally, are only available through the trainer or organization who operates the challenge.
Sadly, these types of challenges only encourage a lifetime ride on the fitness fad hamster wheel. When you finish your cookie-cutter template, you’re left with no actionable advice from which to base your ongoing fitness efforts. You might get some results, but good luck maintaining them over the long-term with no individualized recommendations to follow.
So what are you left to do next? Enter another unsustainable fitness challenge. See the problem here?
Trend #2: Sweat wraps
The idea that you can wrap yourself up to enhance fat burning and eliminate cellulite has lifted more than a few eyebrows; yet, this trend continues to grow. Typically, sweat wraps come complete with “proprietary” goo meant for slathering across your midsection and long lists of reviews detailing the products’ incredible fat-melting capabilities.
Are you seeing red flags yet?
Here’s the problem with this fitness trend: There’s no scientific evidence that it’s actually effective. When you exercise, increasing the amount you sweat doesn’t equal increased fat burning. You’ll lose water weight naturally when you sweat out water and become lighter.
What these products fail to tell you is that though you might lose a pound or two, that water weight will inevitably return—and no sweat wrap on the planet can stop it from happening.
Our advice? Follow a sustainable exercise and healthy eating approach that doesn’t rely on water weight loss to trick you into believing you’re getting results.
Trend #3: One-on-one “expert” fitness coaches
Have you ever scrolled social media for fitness advice? These days, who hasn’t? Viewers beware: Just because someone charges a premium and claims to be an expert on the Internet, doesn’t mean they’re telling the truth.
Sure, they might have a formal-looking personal training credential behind their name, but many times, even that might be fake. If you’re thinking of shelling out hundreds of dollars per month for advice from a self-proclaimed “expert” you found online, it’s a good idea to do some research before you give up your credit card info.
Not only do many of these “experts” furnish rigid, cookie-cutter exercise and diet programs, but they also charge thousands per year for their mediocre service. Unfortunately, thousands upon thousands of fitness enthusiasts have fallen for their hype—and been left with unsustainable, short-term results to prove it.
When working with a highly qualified, verified expert, one-on-one coaching can absolutely be worth the cost. However, for most people interested in shaping up and getting healthier, high-level coaching isn’t just exorbitantly expensive; it can be time-consuming and overly involved.
Trend #4: Over-the-counter weight loss supplements
If losing weight were as easy as popping a pill or downing a shake, everyone would be doing it! It sounds like a perfect plan, right? You get to eat whatever you want, then you pop your little “miracle” pill and voilà! You never gain weight! Except that’s not how it works—at all.
Weight loss supplements have been around for decades; they’re not necessarily a new trend, but new pills and powders enter the market every year. Interestingly, since these supplements began gaining popularity in the 1970s, dozens of pills, powders, and potions have been mercilessly yanked from store shelves due to adverse consumer health effects.
The scariest part? These supplements are not regulated by the FDA. There is no governing body that tests these products, and manufacturers are not required to prove their safety or efficacy. And, because of the lack of industry regulation, researchers have found potentially dangerous ingredients in up to 90% of widely available OTC supplements. Here’s just a brief list of the astonishing ingredients that continue to make their way into OTC weight loss aids:
Ma Huang (Ephedra). The FDA banned sales of products containing this amphetamine-like ingredient after multiple reports of cardiovascular problems and, sadly, deaths. Bitter orange, synephrine, and octopamine all have similar effects and are currently popular ingredients in many weight loss supplements.
DMAA. Also known as methylhexanamine, the FDA banned this amphetamine derivative after numerous reports of heart and liver complications, dangerously high blood pressure, neurological problems, and deaths. DMBA is very similar in chemical structure and effect.
Octodrine. An analog of DMAA with similar adverse health effects. Reported side effects include high blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and abnormally high body temperature.
Sibutramine. Clinical studies have shown this ingredient increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Which supplements should you watch for?
For a more extensive rundown of which OTC supplements the FDA has discovered dangerous ingredients in, check out this list from fda.gov. Also, it’s important to note that many supplement manufacturers alter ingredient names slightly in an attempt to thwart consumers. These altered ingredient names are accurate, but they typically represent the chemical structure of each compound—not something the average person would recognize on a product label.
The bottom line? Be very skeptical about weight loss and energy supplements. You never know what you’re really consuming when you ingest these products.
Trend #5: Vibration boards
Back in the 1960s, men and women everywhere flocked to vibrating “exercise” machines that promised unprecedented weight loss and muscle strengthening. The trend was pretty short-lived, so really, it was more of a fad. Interestingly, though, it’s now popping back up on the health and fitness radar. This time around, however, it appears to be much more user-friendly.
According to proponents of whole-body vibration, the trend is set to become the “next big thing.” But is this fitness technology actually effective, or is it just standing on shaky ground? Let’s take a look.
What is whole-body vibration?
Whole-body vibration, also called WBV, is an exercise platform that vibrates continuously while users stand, sit, and move on top of it. Proponents of the technology assert that performing exercises on top of the vibrating platform changes the body’s physiological response to exercise. They believe that the constant vibrations stimulate increased muscle fiber activity, leading to more frequent muscular contractions, and therefore, increased strength and balance.
The problem with this technology? It hasn’t been extensively tested on humans yet. Preliminary mouse testing has demonstrated beneficial effects, as have a handful of human studies, like this one on obese adolescents. Here’s the caveat: Though researchers have currently demonstrated beneficial effects, they appear to be limited to younger populations.
Bottom line? The research on WBV is still relatively limited. It hasn’t demonstrated any harmful effects, but at this point, vibration boards may just end up being another piece of neglected fitness equipment stuffed away in your closet somewhere.
There you have it! That wraps up our list of fitness trends to be skeptical of in 2020. In the ever-changing landscape of health and fitness, new trends are constantly entering and exiting the market.
With that in mind, here’s what you really need to know: Sustainable, smart fitness approaches have always stood the test of time.