The promise of a shortcut to your ideal body shape is a tempting one. For decades now, there’s been an endless stream of strange exercise fads all trying to catch our eye. Some of them are a bit odd, some of them are downright ridiculous, and a few of them actually work!
Let’s get things going with something that sounds like it might actually do you some good. Created by a guy called Bikram Choudhury, the claimed benefits of Bikram Yoga include weight loss; improved posture and flexibility; and increased strength. If that’s not enough, proponents also claim healing powers and a ‘natural irrigation’ of the body, which sounds more like a rather unpleasant effect rather more expected from a laxative. Still, it’s got ‘yoga’ in the name so it can’t be bad, right?
Well, that all depends on how much you enjoy being steamed like a vegetable. Bikram Yoga means completing a set of twenty six postures in a room heated to over forty degrees! It’s not uncommon to experience nausea and dizziness during the ninety minute classes, so it’s not for the faint of heart (literally).
Final Verdict: Allegedly works quite well, if you can stand the heat.
Now we take a trip back in time to 1993, the year of the leotard. With just a plastic mat and some strange shoes, Kim Alexis takes us through the 40-minute ‘Slim Slide’ routine. Yes, you too can burn up to 300 calories by slipping around like a drunken elk on an ice rink!
Unsurprisingly, this one slid off the radar pretty quickly, but it might be useful if you’re planning a career as a skater.
Final Verdict: Great preparation for the Winter Olympics.
Oh boy. This thing exploded in popularity (or, more accurately, infamy) in late 2012, not least because of the… ahem… interesting action required to operate it. It looks a bit like a dumbbell crossed with one of those squeaky toy hammers, and apparently it uses a ground-breaking technology called ‘dynamic inertia’. In the best traditions of marketing, this means absolutely nothing.
The obvious disadvantage to the Shake Weight is that it looks downright obscene, but at least you can do it in private. Less obvious is the danger, suggested by some doctors, that the ‘unnatural movement’ could cause muscle spasms. Yikes.
Final Verdict: Vaguely pornographic and potentially dangerous.
Moving on, how about a fitness fad that you can do without splashing out on expensive apparatus? Enter ‘Prancercise’, a recent trend in ridiculous exercise that sees you hop, skip, and jump your weight away (in theory).
Inspired by the movements of horses, this is not a regime for the shy; instead of jogging, you trot and sashay along like a loon. It really must be seen to be believed. Then again, if the free, unbridled (no pun intended) movement makes you happy then go for it!
Final Verdict: Makes mum dancing at a wedding look normal.
Lastly, let’s take a look at one more no-kit-required way to shed some pounds. You just need to grab your running shoes and head out the door! Backwards, that is.
Also known as ‘retro running’, which makes it sound far cooler, studies have shown that it actually uses 30% more energy than running normally (which should henceforth be known as ‘dull running’). Not only that, running backwards can help reduce the impact on your joints and even increase your brain power! Not bad for something that we probably all tried at least once in school, but it’s advised that newcomers run with a front-facing partner or two for safety. Oh, and it’s probably best to avoid going down any steep hills.
Final Verdict: Strange but effective!
It seems there’s an almost limitless supply of whacky weight-loss fads, so it was hard to choose just a few to highlight. Do you know any other weird and wonderful (or just plain terrible) exercise regimes? Better yet, have you tried any of the ones listed above, and did they work for you?
Murray is a blogger with a healthy love of silly-looking exercises. She recommends Triactol.