Have you ever seen those ads for the Ab Circle Pro and said to yourself, “Maybe it will help be get rock hard abs with only a few minutes of workout a day”? Well, it apparently doesn’t, as the company behind the device has agreed to pay up to $25 million in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations of deceptive advertising.
The makers of the Ab Circle Pro — a fiberglass disk with stationary handlebars and two knee rests that roll on the edge of the disk, allowing consumers to kneel and rotate side-to-side — will pay at least $15 million because of its ads that somehow came up with the claim that a three-minute workout on the device was equivalent to doing 100 sit ups.
“You can either do 30 minutes of abs and cardio or just three minutes a day,” says the company’s spokeswoman in the infomercials, which promise that the brief workouts “melt inches and pounds.”
It’s estimated that this infomercial aired at least 10,000 times between March 2009 and May 2010.
“The FTC reminds marketers that they should think twice before promising a silver-bullet solution to a health problem – whether it involves losing weight or curing cancer,” said David Vladeck, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Weight loss is hard work, and telling consumers otherwise is deceptive.”
All the defendants in the case, were charged with misrepresenting that AB Circle Pro spokesperson Jennifer Nicole Lee lost 80 pounds using the device.
Defendants are prohibited from claiming that the Ab Circle Pro or any similar device is likely to cause rapid and substantial loss of weight, inches, or fat; is likely to do so in specific areas of the body such as the abdominal area, hips, thighs, and buttocks; or makes a significant contribution to an exercise plan that provides rapid and substantial loss of weight, inches, or fat.
Additionally, they may not claim that the Ab Circle Pro or any similar device, if used for three minutes a day, causes users to lose 10 pounds in two weeks; provides the same exercise benefits as doing 100 sit-ups; or provides weight- or fat-loss benefits that are equivalent or superior to longer workouts on other exercise devices or gym equipment.
The makers of the device, Fitness Brands, Inc., will pay $1.2 million. Reader’s Digest Association is on the hook for at least $13.8 million — and up to an additional $10 million, depending on the volume of refund requests — because its subsidiaries Direct Holdings Americas, Inc. and Direct Entertainment Media Group, Inc. produced the infomercial.