Lame fitness gadgets didn't begin and end with Suzanne Somers' Buttmaster. From the day man first strived to become pec-tacular, businessmen dreamed up ineffective gizmos with one simple goal: separating a dumbbell from his money. So we combed through the dusty Men's Fitness attic and found what we believe are the 12 worst fitness inventions of all time.
"SANITIZED" TAPE WORMS
What the hell was it? Parasites. After swallowing them, they'd nest in your gut and feed off digesting food.
Debut: 100-some-odd years ago
The promise: You'll lose weight! These crawlers, bragged an old-timey ad, were "Friends for a fair form. Jar packed and easy to swallow."
Our verdict: "You also would have lost vitamins, minerals, and intestinal tissue," says fitness expert Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., author of Mind/Body Fitness. Plus, had you ingested these mail-order monstrosities, you surely would've become the object of such groaners as, "Hey, what's eating you?"
THE DUMBBELL CANE
What the hell was it? A cane with, well, a metal dumbbell attached.
The promise: "It can be swung in various ways as you walk, with apparent unconsciousness," boasted the not-quite-grammatically-correct advertisement, allowing for a seemingly effortless workout. Sure, it made swingers look like dandies, but at least they were diesel.
Our verdict: A glorified bludgeon (which would never clear today's airport security). "A waif may have found the weight enough to increase muscle," notes Seabourne, "but the average male needs a few more pounds to feel the burn."
THE PROSTATE-GLAND WARMER
What the hell was it? A nine-foot-long electric cord with a 4 1/4-inch butt plug on one end and a blue light bulb on the other . . . just use your imagination.
The promise: Upon insertion, the plug will somehow stimulate "the abdominal brain." It's working when the light bulb lights up.
Our verdict: Made your ass look like a blue-light special. This is one invention you'd hate to have been caught road-testing. Besides, adds Seabourne, "Your prostate is plenty warm to begin with."