Skip to main content

Funniest Fitness Fads Of All Time

7 min read

By Jeff Hayward

We’ve all seen those late-night (or daytime) infomercials for the newest fitness gadget or routine that’s supposed to make you look like an athlete overnight. And while most of us giggle a bit watching the actors demonstrate the equipment with a straight face, others actually buy the products.

Health equipment crazes come and go, but if there’s one thing we can rely on, it’s that another one will come and take its place. Here are 14 of the funniest fitness fads in recent memory…

1. ThighMaster

As if the name alone shouldn’t elicit a laugh, this is 1-of those pieces of equipment that was hard to take seriously on television. notes the product had a star promoter – Chrissy (Suzanne Somers) from the hit show “Three’s Company.”

Apparently, the product is still squeezing its way into the market (pun intended), and Chrissy is still the spokesmodel. That’s quite a career promoting 1-piece of equipment – although apparently now there’s also the ButtMaster, which is pretty self-explanatory. Laughing aside, Livestrong says more than 10-million ThighMaster units have been sold.


2. Body by Jake

Men’s Fitness reminds us of the Body by Jake fad, the brainchild of Jake Steinfeld. “We can’t even remember what Body by Jake is at this point, but that name is burned into our consciousness forever,” jokes the source. If you can’t place him, think of a guy who trained smiling models (rather awkwardly) on late-night television, using words like “buttisimo.”

Like Suzanne Somers, Jake is apparently still successfully selling fitness equipment, so there are people out there who really use this. There may be something to his teachings, however – Men’s Fitness says Steinfeld trained Harrison Ford for his role in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Source: Body by Jake Facebook

3. Prancercise

This is a fairly recent fad, but timelessly hilarious. The “fitness revolution” has its own website that describes prancersise as a “springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation.”

What catapulted this exercise into infamy was the YouTube video that went viral, showing Prancercise LLC owner Joanna Rohrback demonstrating the techniques. We dare you to watch this entire video without cracking a smile.

4. Face Exercises

Okay, this “fad” never really disappeared since popping up in the 80’s – it has come back in different forms, each possibly funnier than the previous version. The idea is these exercises will tighten your facial features, helping to reduce wrinkles and make you look younger (without needing plastic surgery).

There are so many videos of people demonstrating these facial exercises over the years, but there’s at least one you can’t not see (or unsee). You’re welcome!

5. Vibrating Belts

If only getting in shape was as easy as strapping a belt around yourself and letting it shake off pounds while you watched your favorite soap operas. However, in the 1960’s these vibrating belt machines were quite popular. There was only 1-problem, they didn’t actually work, says Men’s Fitness.

“They were great if you wanted to get a good shake going in your body, but they did zero to help you with fitness or weight loss,” says the source. It adds that despite the lack of effectiveness, newer versions of this product have hit the market in recent years. We’ll blame nostalgia for this one.


6. Hawaii Chair

This product promised to take the work out of working out, saving you a trip to the gym, says It used a 2,800-rpm rotor underneath the chair that “simulates the hula motion at multiple speeds to tone muscle,” it adds. As you might imagine, this would be a funny sight at the office (or anywhere).

The video on the Time article shows the product in operation, reminiscent of someone that has to pee very urgently but just can’t get away from the phone. For best results, wear a Hawaiian shirt while using it, of course.

7. Shake Weight

This has got to be 1-of the most awkward products ever to be demonstrated on television, and we shouldn’t need to explain why – all you need to do is watch the official promotional video on YouTube.

“Thanks to the suggestive Shake Weight motion, videos of the Shake Weight went viral,” explains There may be something to the bicep-building product, however – the inventor claims it’s responsible for former First Lady Michelle Obama’s toned arms. Apparently many more people have taken this product seriously – it has sold more than 2-million units, according to Livestrong.

Source: NBC

8. Treadmill Bike

The same source notes there’s actually a treadmill on the market that doubles as a bike to get to work, or to a restaurant to really impress your date. The idea is that the motion of walking on the electric motor-assisted treadmill powers the wheels.

Another advantage of the product, according to the inventor, is that it “protects your feet from dirt and other contaminants commonly found on the Earth’s surface,” notes Livestrong. Because those who want to get in shape are also terrified of touching the ground, apparently.

Source: Lopifit US Facebook

9. Deal-A-Meal

Richard Simmons was a household name in the 1980’s, and many people followed his fads religiously. One of his diet offerings to the world was called Deal-A-Meal, which literally used special playing cards marked with different food groups.

Each time you ate something from a particular food group, you “bought” them and moved the corresponding card to the other side of the handy playing card wallet. When you run out of cards, you were deemed to be finished eating for the day. Apparently this was a better alternative to counting calories. But… we wonder if people cheated by trading cards so they could double up on a food group they liked more?

10. Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Since Richard Simmons was such an icon, we’ll give him another plug – this time for his ridiculously popular “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” aerobic fitness routine. “Simmons and his pals would get you up off the couch and sweating the weight off all while backed by the melodious sounds of oldies music,” notes Men’s Fitness.

It may have looked a bit funny, but it really caught on and no doubt helped some people at least feel better from the movement. “Unfortunately, we still have trouble getting the images of our moms Sweatin’ to the Oldies out of our brain,” it jokes.

Source: Amazon

11. Slimming Belts

What could be easier than strapping on a belt around your abdomen that’s supposed to squish down the fat cells? These belts have been around for a while and are actually still popular, but they don’t actually provide the results they promise, says Livestrong.

The belts will indeed shrink you fat cells when tightly wrapped, giving you a smaller appearance – but the problem is “once you decompress, your cells will gradually revert to their normal size and shape,” it adds. Perhaps you could wear one under your clothing during that hot first date, but if the date goes well, they’re going to figure out sooner or later that you’re just squeezing it all in.


12. Body Blade

This is another product that might lead people to believe you’re having a medical episode rather than working out, but apparently it works for many people, says Livestrong. “The Bodyblade was invented by physical therapist Bruce Hymanson, a man whose recent photos indicate that he looks like a retired superhero,” it says.

The device uses vibration and resistance to tone muscles, but “like its cousin, the Shake Weight, Bodyblade owners run the risk of public ridicule because they look like out-of-control insects when they use them,” says Livestrong. Don’t take our word for it – watch it in action yourself (fast forward towards the end of the video to see a demo).

Source: Body Blade Facebook

13. Sauna Suits

Step into that rubberized, garbage-bag looking suit and into the sauna for sweat-induced weight loss, they said. Except the problem is that putting on extra layers in an already warm sauna is not exactly a good decision, says

“Think: heat stroke, muscle cramps, and fainting,” notes the source. Any weight you happen to lose while passed out on the floor of the sauna are soon regained as soon as you eat or drink, it adds. And yes, these suits are still on the market, although they’re made of more breathable materials now.

Source: Retronaut

14. Leg Magic X

You probably want to look away from this infomercial, but you just can’t. The super dramatized video claims you can build strength and stability into your Golden Years with a side-gliding technique that looks like you’re repeatedly slipping on ice and regaining your balance.

Just look at the pleased look on the faces of those demonstrating the product in the video – it must be good! It also shows people walking – which… is also good, and costs a lot less.


Writer, General Health

Jeff has more than 15 years of experience writing professionally about health, travel and the arts among other subjects. He continuously looks to improve his own overall health through exercise, diet and mindfulness. He is also a proud stay-at-home dad that loves taking photographs both professionally and as a hobby.

Fitness News & Advice


Tracking Daily Step Counts Can Be a Useful Tool for Weight Management — An Exercise Scientist Parses The Science
By Bob Buresh Fitness News & Advice

Tracking Daily Step Counts Can Be a Useful Tool for Weight Management — An Exercise Scientist Parses The Science

Over the last decade, smartphones have become ubiquitous not just for sending texts and staying abreast of news, but also for monitoring daily activity levels. Among the most common, and arguably the most meaningful, tracking method for daily physical activity is step counting. Counting steps is far more than a fad: The U.S. Department of […]

Read More about Tracking Daily Step Counts Can Be a Useful Tool for Weight Management — An Exercise Scientist Parses The Science

6 min read

Aerobic and Strength Training Exercise Combined Can Be an Elixir for Better Brain Health in Your 80s and 90s, New Study Finds
By Brian Ho and Ronald Cohen Fitness News & Advice

Aerobic and Strength Training Exercise Combined Can Be an Elixir for Better Brain Health in Your 80s and 90s, New Study Finds

People in the oldest stage of life who regularly engage in aerobic activities and strength training exercises perform better on cognitive tests than those who are either sedentary or participate only in aerobic exercise. That is the key finding of our new study, published in the journal GeroScience. We assessed 184 cognitively healthy people ranging […]

Read More about Aerobic and Strength Training Exercise Combined Can Be an Elixir for Better Brain Health in Your 80s and 90s, New Study Finds

3 min read

Exercise May or May Not Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off — Here’s the Evidence for Both Sides of The Debate
By Donald M. Lamkin Fitness News & Advice

Exercise May or May Not Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off — Here’s the Evidence for Both Sides of The Debate

The global fitness industry will generate over US$80 billion in revenue in 2023, estimates suggest. And why not, given the many excellent reasons to exercise? Better cardiovascular health, lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, stronger immune system – the list goes on. One of the biggest reasons many people choose to exercise is to lose […]

Read More about Exercise May or May Not Help You Lose Weight and Keep It Off — Here’s the Evidence for Both Sides of The Debate

5 min read