Fitness trends that aren’t worth the money

Fitness trends, much like fashion trends and makeup trends, are something you can always count on being around. Whether it’s a new move guaranteed to get optimal results, a hip boutique gym offering fun and trendy workouts, or a product making all sorts of health promises, the fitness industry is seeing new inventions year after year.  

The thing is, there are constantly new health and fitness trends dominating the internet and even your local grocery stores with advertisements and claims to make you into your best self. But, really, are they even worth it? How great can one spin class be? Can certain supplements really clear your skin, give you more energy, and boost your workout?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of pricy fitness trends promising any number of fantastical results. Before you reach for your wallet, though, you’ll want to read on to learn which fitness trends aren’t worth your hard-earned money.

The "thigh gap" fitness trend isn't worth the money

Women’s ‘perfect’ body types have changed throughout history, bringing us to today’s thigh gap obsession. Julie DuBois, a nutritionist and dietitian at Fueled Fitness in Fort Worth, Texas, said this prominent fitness trend just isn’t a realistic one for most people. “You can have someone who is really thin who wouldn’t have that genetic build to get that gap,” she explained to The Shorthorn newspaper. “Even the skinniest people won’t have that kind of build. It’s not necessarily a good goal, and it’s pretty much impossible to spot reduce. With exercise and a proper diet, you can see results overall, but you can’t just target that area.”

Having thighs that touch each other is completely normal, but #thighgap would like you to believe you’re out of shape if your thighs happen to touch. Even Beyoncé has occasionally succumbed to the trend, as she was caught Photoshopping a thigh gap into a couple of photos. However, spending money on gym memberships, diet plans, or Photoshop solely to achieve a thigh gap is truly a waste of money and time. 

You can skip the SoulCycle fitness trend

Boutique spin classes, specifically SoulCycle, has become a huge fitness trend. SoulCycle prides itself on incorporating cardio workouts with fun music, dance moves, and inspiring instructors who will push you to be your best. However, considering how expensive SoulCycle is, these classes may not be worth it.

Martica Heaner, nutritionist, exercise physiologist, and indoor cycling instructor, told the Los Angeles Times that SoulCycle isn’t going to give you a full-body workout. “There is an illusion that they are working out harder because high repetitions can cause a burning sensation, but it doesn’t accomplish anything,” she said. Even when upper-body workouts are incorporated to the classes, they may not be safe. Tom Scotto, an elite coach with USA Cycling in Boston, Massachusetts, told the publication that it’s “dangerous to encourage any movement that would hinder or affect the mechanics of pedaling during an indoor cycling class.”

Celebs (ahem, Kelly Ripa) may love some SoulCycle, but us non-celebrities may find it more advantageous to try a different, less expensive form of regular exercise.

Intense group training is a fitness trend that can lead to injuries

It’s certainly easy to see the appeal of group fitness trends, no matter what they are. CrossFit, Zumba, or even group-led boxing workouts are great for people who love to have support from those around them and get instruction on what to do. However, that doesn’t mean that super-intense group classes are the best idea for everyone.

For one thing, these classes aren’t cheap. Plus, the desire to keep up with your fellow classmates could lead you to pushing yourself too hard, which can lead to injury. Or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you might actually get too comfortable with the same weights, spot, and movements, and not challenge yourself enough, according to The Healthy. Intense group fitness classes definitely have their pros, but considering the fact that they usually cost a lot more than a regular gym membership, they might not be worth it.

Juice cleanses are a pointless fitness trend

On the nutrition side of fitness trends, the juice cleanse continues to be popular — despite all the many valid criticisms about their effectiveness. For people who want to live a healthier lifestyle, the idea of cleansing your body with nutritious, green juice seems perfect, but it actually isn’t really necessary. In fact, it’s really just one of the many sneaky ways the health food industry is scamming you.

“A myriad of ‘detoxification’ regimens have now flooded the market based on the traditional but unproven concept that our body needs help getting rid of unwanted toxins,” Sharon Horesh Bergquist, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, told Health. “The reality is that your body is a detoxification machine, fully built with its own elaborate way of ridding toxins and unwanted chemicals.” Juice cleanses are expensive, and although they may have vitamins and minerals in them, they just aren’t needed to cleanse your body.

Themed races are a needlessly expensive fitness trend

Athletes and non-athletes alike may enjoy partaking in intense, themed races. From color runs — where runners are doused in colored powder after crossing the finish line — to more intense, military-style races featuring rope climbs, obstacles, and crawls through the mud under literal barbed wire, extreme races are everywhere. But, are they worth it?

As The Guardian reported, signing up for the Tough Mudder race is basically a sign that you’re going through a midlife crisis. “Welcome to the Tough Mudder experience, where the hardest obstacle is leaving with any money,” the article joked. Another themed race, The Spartan Race, is also ridiculously expensive to participate in and highly dangerous. Sure, some people may find them fun, but with high entry fees over $100, as The Guardian reported, and the all too real possibility of sustaining an injury, intense races really aren’t worth the money nor the time.

Diet pills are a dangerous fitness trend

Sadly, women of all ages are held to seriously unrealistic beauty and health standards — both by society and major corporations. In fact, as professor and activist Gail Dines said (via Mic), “If you take away that self-loathing that women have, then you will see industries all over the globe go bankrupt.” Because of those standards, diet pills have actually had plenty of success in the health and fitness industry. They’re expensive and dangerous, but they unfortunately don’t seem to be going anywhere.

In an interview with The Guardian, consumer Elaine Gormley explained how she fell for the diet pill fitness trend that ended up causing a serious health scare. “I thought, ‘This is the miracle that I have been waiting for,'” she said. “But then on the fourth day, I took the tablet and my chest started to really ache. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I had no choice but to stick my fingers down my throat to force myself to be sick – to get the tablet out.” Diet pills are seriously sketchy and certainly not worth taking.

Pre-workout solutions have become a scary fitness trend

If you’ve ever started a new fitness routine, you may be familiar with many of the products marketed to support such routines. Pre-workouts solutions — from protein powders to vitamins — can all seem like a necessary fitness trend to try, but they could actually be doing more harm than good.

There are a lot of side effects associated with the popular pre-workout trend of downing energy drinks. These effects range from high blood pressure to anxiety to even an increased risk of diabetes. Supplements are another pre-workout trend, which, according to Healthline, are “primarily used to enhance physical performance and energy, but research doesn’t back many of their supposed benefits.”

“Although certain ingredients may boost your results,” the publication continued, “there’s no standardized formula and several potential downsides.” Prior to working out, you should instead choose a healthier — and cheaper — way to boost your energy, like eating a banana and drinking a cup of coffee.

Natural supplements may not be a great fitness trend

You may feel pressured to buy certain supplements to help improve your performance at the gym and keep you healthy and fit even on your “off” days. But, the thing is, if you’re eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, supplements aren’t necessary. Plus, they can really start to add up cost-wise.

According to WebMD, supplement companies are not required to prove that their products are safe or effective before marketing them to consumers. That alone is a scary thought, but the publication also reported that just because a supplement is labeled as “natural,” it doesn’t mean it’s actually safe or good for you. As physician Michelle May told WebMD, “People get so focused on weight loss they are willing to do unproven and potentially dangerous things that can backfire and cause serious health problems.”

You should avoid this punishing fitness trend

When you set a new fitness goal, whether that be to lose weight or gain strength, chances are you’ll probably start to work out harder than you have in the past. While that’s typically okay for most adults, working out every day under extreme conditions isn’t exactly the best fitness trend for your health.

When you start to exercise too much or too hard, you may notice that your body just simply can’t handle it. Physician Michelle May explained to WebMD that extreme workouts can increase the risk for injury and lead to unnecessary wear and tear on the body. It also promotes exercise as a form of punishment for eating, the doctor explained. 

Doing workouts that are too extreme may seem like the only option to be healthier and achieve your fitness goals, but the truth is it will put a lot of stress on your body and, considering the expense of a gym membership, your wallet.

The leggings fitness trend just isn't worth the extra cash

Even if you’re not up on many fitness trends, you’ve probably heard of the brand Lululemon. The athletic apparel company has something of a cult following and is famous for their leggings, which many fans claim kick — and lift — some serious butt. But, with leggings typically starting at $88, are they really worth it?

Well, as Morningstar analyst Bridget Weishaar wrote in a research note (via Business Insider), Lululemon may have a large fan base, but they face a lot of competition — and their materials aren’t that different than those of other brands. “With so many options out there, we think Lululemon will be forced to keep its prices in a competitive range or to justify higher prices with a technically differentiated product,” Weishaar explained. There are plenty of other comfortable, quality legging options out there that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

You can try this fitness trend at home for free

Barre classes are a popular fitness trend among affluent women these days. The workout program focuses on small, precise movements that guarantee an intense burn and is inspired by ballet moves. As Vice reported, places like PureBarre are almost a status symbol. “For women in a certain income bracket, paying a significant chunk of money for a 45-minute exercise class, all in the hopes of sculpting an idealized body, became part of the norm, or, at least, a luxury status symbol,” the publication detailed.

Additionally, gyms can be a motivating place for some people, which contributes to PureBarre’s success. “I’m of the belief that you should spare no expense for your health and wellbeing,” Amanda Abella, CEO and founder of the personal finance community Make Money Your Honey, told Vice. However, there are plenty of barre classes available on YouTube, which you can watch from the comfort of your own home — for free.

The Peleton fitness trend is super spendy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of the Peleton fitness trend. The company first earned recognition for building a stationary bike that brought the experience of a high-energy cycle studio to your own home. Of course, the company is also well-known for its controversial commercial featuring a man gifting the bike to his wife. It’s also worth noting that Peletons cost over $2,000.

As one writer explained in an opinion column for Business Insider, “For me, the cost is hard to justify.” Though Peleton does give a good work out, you don’t need to pay that much for the machine. “But if you love spin classes and don’t live near a studio, don’t want to leave your house, or hate working out in public, then you might find Peloton worth it,” the article continued. You may want to hold off on giving it as a gift, however.

You don't need to buy into this fitness trend

From rap songs to Hollywood A-listers, one fitness trend has become abundantly clear over the years: it’s all about the butt. The Kardashians have been accentuating their read-ends for years, and now women everywhere work hard to try to achieve the perfect, round behind. But, honestly, spending money on perfecting your derriere is seriously not worth it.

One of the biggest byproducts of society’s obsession with the butt has arguably been the DB Method squat machine, which retails for $229. While the machine may just help make that booty pop, you don’t need a pricey machine in order to do squats. “It is absolutely 100 percent possible to get a great booty without the use of machines like this one,” Mark Langowski, personal trainer and CEO of Body by Mark Wellness, said of the machine when speaking to ABC’s Good Morning America.

This vibrating fitness trend should be a thing of the past

Believe it or not, some people do still use vibration boards as a form of exercise. Yes, claiming that vibration is working your muscles is still a thing in much of the fitness world, but it should also definitely be avoided.

According to the True Fitness franchise, “The concept behind them is suspiciously simple: you stand on them and do various exercises and because they are vibrating you ‘have to use more muscle.'” But the thing is, you aren’t using more muscle. “This is just another fitness trend preying on fitness beginners that you should pass up,” the website continued. “Vibration boards do not, and will not, work better than traditional exercises like barbells or cardio.”

Vibration boards, much like the vibration belts your parents used to use back in the day, aren’t magically going to get rid of your cellulite or give you a six-pack. So, save your money and just do some crunches or lunges for free instead.

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