Snake Oil and Other Quackery

Over the nearly five years I have had children, I have given a lot of thought to living longer. Not living longer in the mythical sense, but rather in the mundane, “Gee, it’s about time I start taking care of myself” sense. In those five years (and much longer, in fact), one thing has become painfully obvious. I am lazy. Lazy and unmotivated and altogether too enamored with food. And bourbon. And not exercising. These are each bad qualities separately. They are exceptionally bad qualities once they have joined forces.

And so it was that I decided to find a way around these negative qualities. Or rather, set upon finding a way to reconcile these negative traits with more positive traits. During a recent stint in physical therapy (for a nagging back problem), my physical therapist introduced me to something called the Bodyblade. For the uninitiated, the Bodyblade is a five foot long, flat composite “blade” with a rubber handgrip in the middle. The Bodyblade “rapidly changes directions at a rhythm of 4.5 cycles per second” and its “oscillating motion forces the shoulder muscles, as well as hundreds of other muscles, to contract 270 times a minute.” With marketing-speak like that, it is hard not to scoff at the Bodyblade. In fact, it is less accurate to say that my “physical therapist introduced me to the Bodyblade” than to say that I was actively mocking it when she exclaimed that it was, despite its As Seen on TV appearance (complete with Exercise Wall Chart!!), “awesome.” Shortly after that, I decided to hire my physical therapist as a trainer, and the Bodyblade, among other gym detritus, ended up on my Christmas wish list. (That it sat on that list beside a deep dish pizza pan illustrates the depths of my issues.)

So, given my initial reaction to the Bodyblade, it should have come as no surprise that my Uncle and cousin set about mocking the device before I had fully unwrapped it on Christmas Eve. If only they had seen the “Pro/Classic Instructional Workout DVD” that accompanied the blade. This period piece – set squarely in 1984 – along with their mocking, has caused me to wonder whether I have fallen for one of the oldest scams in the book. Is it possible I just purchased an Ab Belt? The ThighGlider ultimate thigh, bun and hip shaper? Oh, dear Lord, tell me I didn’t just buy a Shake Weight! I mean, the physical therapist said the thing is “awesome.” She is a Doctor of Physical Therapy for God’s sake. (I can hear my Uncle, the Harvard-educated ER doctor, laughing a hearty belly laugh at the concept of calling a physical therapist a doctor — he is a wonderful, kind man, but he is mean-spirited when it comes to things like this — but my point is simply that this is not someone offering to trade physical therapy services for Widespread Panic tickets on Craigslist.) Have I succumbed to the modern snake oil salesman?

I guess only time will tell. My hope is that the Bodyblade will be one of the tools I use to whip this rapidly expanding body into a decidedly less spherical shape, but if it isn’t, my Uncle and my cousin will have had the last laugh. At least there is plenty of room on the treadmill for storage.

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3 comments on “Snake Oil and Other Quackery

  1. Brian Beasley says:

    Yep. It’s a took, and a good one. Just no panacea. Check out my brother Corey at Innovative Results. Despite being related to me, he’s one of the best fitness trainers in California. Lots of good articles to help you out in his site…www.innovative-results.com, or friend him on FB.

  2. MNJA says:

    I googled “BodyBlade”. Make sure you wrap it properly so the sharp side doesn’t slice you in half…though that would certainly have an impact on your body mass (and a most negative one on living longer).

  3. Muffin Top says:

    There may be no better motivation that family mockery.

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