Of fake gadgets, fad diets


 Innocent Choga – Fitness

Just like any other industry the fitness industry has to continue to be innovative in order to stay relevant and to survive. Hence the continuous churning out of new gadgets, apps and diets.All these can be innovative creations that can assist us to train but at times they may not contribute anything that will be of benefit to us, or they may not be what we need.

Just like in any other industry you will find unscrupulous business people who will take consumers for a ride by producing substandard or fake items. Some will misrepresent the function of the gadget to increase their market share.

Reputable manufacturers add useful features on equipment that make things easy for us and even attractive features that motivate us to exercise. It is, therefore, necessary when one is purchasing or using these products to critically analyse their origins and functions. If one is building a home gym it is wise to do so with the assistance of an expert so that you do not purchase equipment which will not work for you.

Recently I had the opportunity to talk to a friend who bought a gadget that was meant to reduce the midsection. This gadget came with a condition; a diet programme that he was supposed to follow for a certain period. He lost weight as he was promised and he was full of praise and commented that this programme was great. He blamed himself for lacking discipline and his failure to stick to the said programme otherwise he would do well. I noticed that the dietary conditions required him to cut out solid carbohydrates and replace them with blended fruits and vegetables (liquid meal). He mentioned that he had dizzy spells for a while but later got used to the diet.

I pointed out that in my opinion it is obvious that the diet contributed to the weight loss and not the gadget. If one is not eating solid carbohydrates one will lose weight fast but in an unhealthy way. And I thought he should not blame himself because while the white meat, vegetables and fruits provided the proteins, vitamins and minerals it was not a balanced diet. It is impossible to cut out solid carbohydrates for a long period; therefore it is not a sustainable diet programme. Complex carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for human beings, not the single sugars found in fruits and vegetables.

A diet that is deficient in complex carbohydrates rapidly depletes glycogen stores and renders us incapable of being active physically and even mentally.

Carbohydrates also absorb water giving us that full/bulky appearance and helps athletes to eliminate cramps. Remember the potatoes and water osmosis experiments we did at primary school?

This also reminds me of protein powders that are advertised as potent. But the user is advised to mix (blend) the powder with milk, bananas, raw eggs and so forth to get the most out them. When you critically think of it, would one not get enough quality protein from the milk and eggs alone? Besides the average person can only digest a small amount of protein at a time. Please note that it is not recommended to eat raw eggs, one can get salmonella bacteria from infected raw eggs.

It is necessary to eat a healthy well balanced diet and pay some attention to the latest developments in nutritional supplementation. However, there is need to be vigilant.

A South African newspaper article published this past December mentioned that two popular products, a fat burner and a pre-workout supplement were touted as natural supplements yet it was discovered that they contained synthetic banned substances. The products are reportedly linked to a number of cases of non viral hepatitis, two liver transplants and one death. Four of the company executives were reportedly arrested by the American authorities.

When I try to analyse the gadget that my friend bought, honestly I do not see how a machine that vibrates the waist line can reduce the midsection. There is no movement of muscles so how does it burn calories or take out the fat? Some gadgets look nice but are not user friendly. Users have to expend energy in two ways; trying to balance and exercise at the same time. There are certain gadgets that are supposed to build the chest but when you look at the movement it does not make sense. These gadgets are made of spring like or rubber like material. If you pull them across the chest you are merely pulling/stretching the chest.

Going back to the starting point they just collapse without you contracting your chest.

If you compare this gadget to press ups, the later will be more effective since you have to push your weight up (contract) and when you go down you have to control your weight (negative movement).

There is continuous tension on the working muscles. In my opinion these are outdated isometric gadgets and they are not meant for fitness or athletic training, but may be used for rehabilitation purposes.

In my opinion useful innovations include the latest plastic coated weights with large holes that make it easy to grab and to load the weights on bars or machines. Other great add-ons include exercise equipment that come in different colours and shape that make it fun for some members who are attracted to such gadget. And also adapted or modified gadgets that assist people living with disabilities to exercise.

These consist of training belts and bandages and straps. Straps assist one to lift heavy weights but one misses out on the tension associated with tight grips. Power lifters and weightlifters make single heavy lifts so they need to tie up bandages and wear belts to protect themselves. These items can cause a numbness that can even assist one to lift heavy because pain is subdued by lack of blood flow. Therefore they are an impediment if one is training for health and fitness. If your exercise form is perfect and you are using appropriate resistance one should not worry about picking up an injury. I think these should only be worn if one is exercising with an existing injury, obviously with the approval of a medical doctor.

This Week’s Guest

This week I had the honour to talk to 24-year-old Ruvimbo Privillege Rusere; an aerobics instructor and rugby player. The bundle of energy takes two classes per day in six gyms. She has classes in Taibo which involves kicking and punching, Step classes which involves step boxes, Hi-Lo a combination of high and low intensity movements. She also takes classes in toning which is a pump class done with very light weights. Ruvimbo also features at a lot of boot camps where she always gets invited.

In addition Ruvimbo trains with weights at least two or three times per week. She also has rugby training sessions twice per week. She is a prop for Harare Sports Club and Lady Cheeters (national team). Her only rest day is Sunday. Ruvimbo says, most Zimbabwean women shun weights because they have this unfounded fear of getting muscular. She believes fancy equipment like exercise balls entice women to exercise as it appears fun. She also recommended the exercise balls because one can do a lot of exercise on it. Ruvimbo also said most women enjoy running, skipping the rope and they also like to use the abdominal wheel a lot as it tightens their tummies.

She said one of the major concerns amongst most Zimbabwean women is to lose their tummies whilst maintaining their hips and other body parts. But she tries to convince them that reducing one area (spot reducing) is not possible. She also said they use simple equipment at boot camp like vehicle wheels help to tone arms and legs.

Contact: [email protected] Innocent Choga is a six time National Bodybuilding Champion with international experience. He is studying for a science degree in Physical Education and Sport.


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