If you're considering buying exercise equipment, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers this advice: Evaluate advertising claims for fitness products carefully. Exercise — with or without special equipment — is essential for good health. But be skeptical of claims that you will lose several pounds, inches or pant sizes in a short time (for example, "7 inches in 7 days" or "3 dress sizes in one month"). Even when combined with dietary supplements or specialized breathing techniques, it is virtually impossible for most consumers to achieve such major changes in appearance in a few days or weeks.
- Ignore claims that an exercise machine or device can provide long-lasting, easy, "no-sweat" results in a short time. These claims are false: You can't get the benefits of exercise unless you exercise
- Question claims that a product can burn fat off a particular part of the body — for example, the buttocks, hips or stomach. Achieving a major change in your appearance requires sensible eating and regular exercise that works the whole body.
- Read the ad's fine print. The advertised results may be based on more than just using a machine; they also may be based on restricting calories.
- Be skeptical of testimonials and before-and-after pictures from "satisfied" customers. Their experiences may not be typical. Just because one person had success with the equipment doesn'tmean you will, too.
- Do the calculations when you read statements like "three easy payments of ..." or "only $49.95 a month." The advertised cost may not include shipping and handling fees, sales tax, and delivery and set-up fees. Find out the details before you order.
- Get details on warranties, guarantees and return policies. A "30-day money-back guarantee" may not sound as good if you have to pay shipping on a bulky piece of equipment you want to "return to sender."
- Check out the company's customer and support services. Call the advertised toll-free numbers to get an idea of how easy it is to reach a company representative and how helpful he or she is.