A Brief Thought About Those Weird 1950s Reducing Machines
Vibrating belts
Vibrating belts (Photo credit: A.M. Kuchling)

Every so often, I just try to figure out exactly how they thought those 1950s Reducing Machines, the kind where you stand on it and a belt goes around and shakes your stomach, would actually, uh, work. Well, to be fair, the creators probably knew it was a scam right off, but how would you even pretend it wasn’t stupid?

What, is it some sort of convoluted logic thing, like:

1) Moving the body is Exercise.

2) If you move a particular part of the body, you lose fat/gain strength in that area.

3) Therefore, if you have a machine that moves the body, it is exercise.

4) Also, most people want to lose weight from their stomachs.

5) Therefore, if you have a machine that moves the stomach, it is exercise that will lose fat/gain strength in the stomach.

6) Also: A machine designed for something is typically better at doing that something than not using that machine for it (i.e.: A car, designed for transportation, is better at taking you 50 miles than just walking 50 miles)

7) Therefore, a machine designed in moving the body would be better than just moving the body manually.

8) As evidenced in 1, Moving the Body is Exercise.

9) Therefore this is an Exercise Machine.

10) Therefore it is the best thing that you can do.

11) It is science.This, of course, overlooks the fact, that all you’re really doing is just jiggling fat around and not actually doing anything to help the muscles or actually expending any energy or anything.

My grandparents actually had one of these things. It was mostly used as a stuff-holder, though. I always wanted to try it, but never did, just to see if you even get the ILLUSION of having done something. My guess is that you’d get that weird numby-tingly feeling when you use one of those horrible 1940s Vibrating Massager things you strap on to your hand and it moves around like a demented jackhammer until the spring-straps pinch your hand so bad they hurt[1].

Anyway, all I’m saying is that my expectation would be the 1950s Belt Reducing Machine Thing wouldn’t actually tire you in any way, just make you hurt and maybe vaguely dizzy. If I ever get around to testing my hypothesis, I shall mention it here. But there’s a good chance I won’t, seeing as I don’t really like pain that much.

[1] I’ve got one of these horrible things. (It was an inheritance type thing, one of a cull of various random and hideous things, including the one Brocade-Floral Chair that I despise, a Seltzer Bottle, some horrible cat statues and some other utterly random things I’m forgetting now, because it must have been 10 years ago minimum). I saw the noise-making possibilities in it, and so I claimed it about 6 years later, after it was sitting around since we had got it and discovered it was a Horrible Torture Device. So, uh, yeah, this is how I know it is not a, ahem, marital aid, since you’d have to be deranged to put that thing anywhere near anything sensitive[a]. I mean, actually, deeply, mentally ill. Oh my god that thing hurts, and I’ve only used it on my hand, and on my throat to sing through. Oh, and I think I played the keyboard with it one time. Or, no, wait, guitar. It was Mark Mothersbaugh who played Keyboard with one once[b].
[1a] Not to mention the shape’s all wrong — I suppose, if you were so inclined, you’d put it on your hand and use your fingers, but, you would probably come out bleeding profusely.
[1b] Not my particular one, though. According to the story, I guess he wasn’t so hot at doing the fast notes when he was a little kid learning piano, so he strapped his to his hand to help him do it, and, uh, I can only assume it so didn’t work.


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