Seeing Through the Scam Marketing of Fitness Magazines

There are times when savvy marketing sounds pretty enticing. But under the surface some things stink like a dead rodent.

Generally speaking, I am skeptical of most of the training information John and Jane Q. Public have access to. This would include the Internet, infomercials, and the plethora of “fitness” magazine you can toss on the conveyor belt at your local super market.

NOTE: Before moving forward, understand I am a firm believer in capitalism and free enterprise. I agree that pursuing goals is the essence of existence provided it meets the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines. Is this a great country or what?

Not-So-Sound Advice

In the April 2014 edition of Shape magazine, there is an article by a woman named Tracy Anderson. It is entitled, Yes, You Can Flatten Your Belly. A nearly identical article can be found on the Health website, entitled Get a Flat Belly in 4 Weeks.

Now, you’re not stupid and I’m not stupid. However, there are times when savvy marketing sounds pretty enticing. Admit it. If it smells good, most people we’ll eat it. But under the surface some things stink like a dead rodent. No offense, but you can be hoodwinked by verbiage even though you think you are given sound advice. What follows is a perfect example of that.

It’s time to dissect Anderson’s article so the layperson can see the light. Begin with the article’s title, and then the subtitle: “Give your abs a little love with the help from Health‘s star trainer.” As an avid Jane or Joe, I’m all over that because it purportedly will assist me in my pursuit of washboard abdominals.

Then the article goes on to state, “Unfortunately, you just can’t exercise your way to it.”

Agreed. But then it continues on to pseudo-science.

Discussion then centers on gluten. “I advise woman to give it up for a week to see how they feel.” If unwilling, Anderson suggests, “Simply stick to whole grains, which are a much healthier choice than overly processed alternatives.”

Stop here. So, do you completely eschew gluten or simply ingest whole grains (some containing gluten)? Confusing, right?

Another suggestion is to add dairy to your diet if you seek a slender mid-section. This advice is based on the fact proteins increase fullness and you then eat less. A few protein-based meals are then listed.

Of course, a model with a slender body is pictured doing an abdominal flexion exercise with a note that states, “Score gorgeous abs in one month!” This, of course, is completely misleading because there is no proof the model followed Anderson’s routine and there is no proof the model adhered to the recommended nutritional advice. This is scam-marketing at its finest.

Wake Up to the Hype

Now we get into the misleading verbiage. Discussion now centers on how to “get a show-off stomach.” The ubiquitous core is addressed with the proclamation that “you need to identify it, engage it, and have all movements extend from it.” What the hell does that mean relative to achieving a flat belly? More nonsense targeting the uneducated.

Further, the article explains that core work goes beyond basic crunches because they are only one-dimensional, supposedly only activating the rectus abdominis (front abs). Anderson’s program works multiple angles of the core and that is the reason why Jennifer Lopez has such a spectacular mid-section obtained with a thirty- to sixty-minute workout performed six times per week.

Really? Show us the proof that J. Lo achieved those sexy abs via multiple-angle abdominal training performed over a thirty- to sixty-minute session. And is that amount of time required for the average Joe or Jane Doe?

The article then depicts four exercises via pictures, as follows:

Now, I’ll admit these abdominal exercises do target the abs. But do they assist in shedding body fat from the mid-section? (Which is, of course, necessary for the “flat belly.”)

The answer is no. These exercises activate the abs, which can enhance strength and muscular endurance. All other factors considered, this could aid in the goal of shedding abdominal fat, but only provided proper food intake is addressed.

This article by Tracy Anderson is just another over-hyped recommendation required to keep the commercially driven monthly periodicals moving forward, replete with:

  • Pseudo-science
  • Popular buzzwords
  • Marketing techniques
  • Appropriate photos

Wake up, people.

Photos 1 courtesy of

Photo 2 by Jesús Bueno Urbano (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Photos 3-6 courtesy of