Our Favourite Fitness Fads

Fitness Fads
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Wii Fit

When Nintendo’s Wii console was released in 2006 it became a hit with non-gamers thanks to its motion controls. So it was no surprise that fitness package Wii Fit was a similar sensation. Although more than 22.5 million were sold, research showed that 64 per cent gave up on it “almost immediately”. It wasn’t as fun as a proper game and wasn’t as effective as going to a gym. Nintendo did OK out of it, though.

Shake Weight

These silly dumbbells used “dynamic inertia” to make your muscles work harder. Or so it was claimed. Around two million were sold in the first year (2010). The problem was that reviewers found that they didn’t really work – some even discovered they lost muscle if they switched from normal weights to these gimmicks. You would burn more calories walking…

Tae bo

A cross between taekwondo and boxing, this gym class staple (at the turn of the millennium, anyway) was a glorified boxercise routine designed to sell instructional videos. The creator – film extra Billy Blanks – is a devout Christian, which explains why some of the videos included breaks for religious messages and encouraged participants to reach out to Jesus when they felt tired.


These two fitness programmes drew people in with promises of extreme body transformations in just 90 days. And they can work. But you need to spend around £100 on the instructional DVDs then devote nearly two hours per day, six days a week to it. At their peak P90X/Insanity brought in more than $400m a year, but you’ll struggle to find many people who finished the programme considering how many packs were sold.

Toning shoes

A pair of trainers that give you a leg-day just from walking around? Sounds too good to be true! It was. Certain brands created deliberately unstable shoes that they claimed would work your calf and glute muscles as you strolled – and they were a hit. Until people complained about a lack of results and successfully sued to settle false advertising claims.