Ab Circle Pro: Deceptive marketing in action

Does your New Year’s resolution have to do with losing weight or achieving super fitness? If you’re thinking of succumbing to the hype and buying an Ab Circle Pro, please read this post first. There’s something the marketers of the Ab Circle Pro don’t want you to know.

I normally don’t pay attention to infomercials. The cheesy American hype and formulaic, gimmicky presentations make me question why TV has degraded that much over the years. But, I have been bombarded by the Ab Circle Pro advertisement for months now and today I finally cracked – my bullshit detector can take no more of it.

There is much to be learned from a skeptical, consumer advocacy perspective in dissecting the claims about the Ab Circle Pro so let’s get started. Below are the main claims that arouse suspicion, but they make dozens of claims that could also qualify here.

Nonsense claim #1: “With the Ab Circle Pro System, we guarantee you’ll lose 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in just 2 weeks”.
The deception is laid quite neatly in this phrase “Ab Circle Pro System”. “Ab Circle Pro” is used more than 20 times throughout the infomercial, effectively conditioning the viewer to associate “Ab Circle Pro” with the Ab machine in question.

However, they pull a fast one on you with the specific claim that you’ll 10 pounds in 2 weeks by adding “System” to the name of the machine. It is likely that most people won’t notice that and assume the claimed 3 minutes on the “Ab Circle Pro” will yield these results. Don’t be fooled by this, the “Ab Circle Pro System” is not the “Ab Circle Pro” machine. The system involves a reduced calorie diet as well as a workout DVD, meaning it requires more than 3 minutes a day to be effective.

It may seem like semantics and it is, but it is subtle enough that technically they’re not lying, they’re just not telling the full story.

Nonsense claim #2: “…it’s fun and easy, and takes just 3 minutes a day”
Now we know from the points raised above that this is not true. The 3 minutes a day is really just a smokescreen designed to get you excited about not putting too much pressure on yourself in getting fit. It is doubtful 3 minutes a day will do much of anything for your fitness, waist and weight loss, especially on what appears to be a low-impact machine like the Ab Circle Pro.

The formula to rememember for weight loss is simple:
To lose weight your calorie output must exceed your calorie input.

Don’t be deceived – to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks you will be required to more than 3 minutes on a low-impact machine. The marketers know this and hence, the “Ab Circle Pro System” requires more than 3 minutes of further exercise along with calorie restriction.

Nonsense claim #3 – “These machines burn fat but won’t flatten your abs!”
If you want to lose fat on your waist and abs, working out your midsection is not the answer. There is a common misconception that you can lose weight by spot reduction – the idea that working a bodypart leads to fat loss from that area.

The body does not lose weight by spot reduction, the body sheds fat systemically. In other words, a calorie deficit will lead to fat loss from all parts of the body. Regardless of what exercise you do, any fat loss you experience will be throughout the body (including internal fat stores).

One further point – the infomercial shows ab exercises in gyms that require a lot of exertion. This is a clue as to which exercises will work best to stimulate muscle growth and lose fat. The greater your exertion the greater the muscle adaption and the more calories you will burn.

Nonsense claim #4 –  “In fact, 3 minutes on the Ab Circle Pro is equal to over 100 sit-ups!”
What?! This doesn’t even make sense. What exactly are we comparing here? Calorie burning? If that’s the case, I call bullshit on it. Firstly, do 100 sit ups and then honestly ask yourself whether the calories you expend from that would be inferior to 3 minutes on a low-impact machine such as the Ab Circle Pro.

Anyone who has done 100 sit ups will tell you that it is hard work. This is agood thing, despite the marketers telling you that this exertion is a bad thing.

Therein lies the problem with both keeping resolutions and with quick fix marketing gimmicks like the Ab Circle Pro. Who wouldn’t want great result for little effort and time? Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that toning, weight loss and fitness generally requires exertion for a set period of time.

20-30 minutes of exercise done at a reasonable intensity for at least 3 days per week is a prescription for fat loss. Cool thing is, you can do this effectively for free – no rubbish gimmicks required. If you want a powerful midsection, there are plenty of great exercises out there that can be done in your home, office, garage or yard.

Best of luck with any fitness endeavours and your other new years’ resolutions.


7 responses to “Ab Circle Pro: Deceptive marketing in action

  1. The fact that this product is endorsed by so called fitness professionals is frankly disgusting, they’re either severely lacking in integrity or don’t have the first clue what they’re talking about.

  2. Hi Andrew, I am a clinical exercise physiologist with over two decades of experience and have authored what is unquestionably the most comprehensive independent debunking of the Ab Circle Pro on the internet (http://www.drbillofhealth.com/exercise/ab-circle-pro-review-fat-marketing-claims-thin-on-truth/). The “fitness professionals” you mention are a laughing stock to those of us with legitimate credentials. There is absolutely no way that you can have a degree in Exercise Physiology (or even a basic fitness qualification) and not know that their the Ab Circle Pro claims are completely bogus. In short, they have simply breached their ethics and sold out.

    With regards to the blog post above, it is a well-written, point-blank synopsis of my extended version and pretty much hits on the salient points. If you want the nitty gritty details, then check out my unabridged version.

    • viewfromreality

      Thanks for the review Bill. Ethics are malleable when profits to be made. The infomercial machine is a well oiled machine. The repetion of these ads is like a hammer beating viewers over the head until they buy the product or write skeptical blog posts 🙂 Keep fighting the good fight. Fred

      • Cheers Fred, love what you’re doing with the site. Need to have level-headed skeptics out there keeping the “bad guys” in line. They never let the truth get in the way of a good marketing message….until we come along to set the record straight. I’ve been called polarised and biased in my views on the Ab Circle Pro, but I don’t see it that way at all. More like I’m providing the balance to their obviously polarised pro-marketing messages which, as we know, are based on false and deceptive claims.

        Keep up the great work. Cheers, Bill

    • That’s great Bill, very comprehensive indeed.
      It can be very dispiriting after spending many years attempting to educate people in the ways of safe and effective exercise only to have this type of over-hyped nonsense further confuse people and set back the general public understanding even further.
      Even more so when rational explanation of the issues involved falls on the deaf ears of those emotionally invested in these gimmicks.
      I shall point people in the direction of your de-bunking in the hope that sanity will prevail.
      Again great work.

      It amuses/amazes me why would anyone choose to work the abdominals in preference to the legs/hips/upper back muscle as a means to burn calories and attain a cardio-vascular training effect…I’ll bet they DO achieve a good ‘burn’ though heh.
      I’d also have to say that although there is some obvious oblique involvement…even though it is working across the pull of gravity, the rectus abdominus is never worked isotonically but in an isometric contraction to stabilise the body while they perform hip flexion, one can only wonder of the muscular imbalances these things are going to create.
      As usual these things are sold by telling people exactly what they want the hear, fun, easy, fast little effort involved.
      And people seem to be all to willing to believe this nonsense if there told it by a celebrity or fitness model… because of course these people would know and have unimpeachable integrity heh.
      I’d be very interested in your opinion of the ‘shake-weight’ and ‘spin-gym’ 😉

  3. Bill Just read your de-bunking again a little more thoroughly this time, apologies if my above comments seemed like a reiteration of what you’d already said in your piece…they were the bits I’d missed the first time round when I read it 🙂

    • No worries Andrew! It’s not what “they’re” telling you, but more what they’re not telling you. Plain and simple, they’re just banking on public ignorance for profit. In the meantime, just gotta keep fighting for responsible science. Sigh….

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