The Ab Circle Pro is yet another exercise device that claims remarkable results with little effort. It's advertised as "a treadmill for your abs." To use it, you kneel on two pads, hold on with your arms, and swivel your body back and forth along a track. The company claims that using it for only three minutes a day will flatten your stomach in weeks. We did find confirmation that the Ab Pro is easy to assemble and store, and theoretically, three resistance levels should give you room to improve.
The Ab Circle Pro comes with a nutrition plan, and reviewers note that it's this calorie-restricted diet that actually leads to fat loss -- not the device itself. Tests show that using the device for three minutes doesn't burn any more calories than a three-minute walk. The jury is still out on how well the Ab Circle Pro strengthens core muscles, but there are certainly far less expensive ways to do it.
Some owners also complain that using the Ab Circle Pro can be hard on the knees and back. Even owners who find the device fun to use say it's poorly made, and we found many complaints about build quality and early breakdowns. Reviewers also complain about the company's pricing and customer service.
The 30-day trial, advertised at $14.95, actually costs a lot more because there is an extra charge of about $35 for delivery. If you decide to return the device for a refund, you'll have to pay return shipping, too -- amounting to a $70 trial. Signing up for the trial also enrolls you in a subscription to a bimonthly vitamin order that can be difficult to cancel. Clearly, if you decide to try the Ab Circle Pro, it's important to buy it from a local retailer with a good return policy rather than from the Ab Circle website.
The Better Business Bureau has received many complaints about overcharges, missing parts, difficulty getting refunds and lack of response to inquiries. The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program and the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau also evaluate complaints about the company's ads and customer service. The Chicago Tribune summarizes these reports, and a review at BurnMyBellyFat.com illuminates some of the fine print in the 30-day trial offer. We also found useful owner-written reviews at Amazon.com and BlurtIt.com.
This full review of the Ab Circle Pro reports on tests by 13 panelists. Four people used the device while their energy expenditure and muscle activity were tested. All 13 panelists did the DVD workout.
Review: Abdominal Exercisers: Ab Circle Pro, Editors of ConsumerReports.org
This blog review and video clip provide a full critique of the Ab Circle Pro commercial, and warns consumers not to expect the results that manufacturer promises. The clip also reports the results of a panel of users who test the Ab Circle Pro by measuring the amount of calories burned. Skinner finds that the three-minute workout burns about the same amount of calories as a brisk three-minute walk.
Review: Ab Circle Pro: Hope for Your Love Handles -- or Hype?, Ginger Skinner, Jan. 6, 2010
3. Better Business Bureau
The distributor of the Ab Circle Pro, Fitness Brands Inc., earns a grade of F from the Better Business Bureau of Los Angeles. This report calls attention to the Ab Circle Pro's misleading ads as well as many reported complaints about customer service from Fitness Brands. The 30-day trial period starts with the order, not with delivery, and the trial automatically enrolls buyers in a subscription to vitamins. Customers report a wide range of problems, including overcharges, missing parts and inability to cancel an order or receive a refund.
Review: Business Report: Fitness Brands, Editors of Better Business Bureau
4. Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program
This report by an online retail watchdog group, sponsored by the Better Business Bureau, recommends that Fitness Brands revise some claims in its ads for the Ab Circle Pro, but notes that the fine print about a restricted-calorie diet does support the weight-loss claims.
Review: ERSP Finds Direct Entertainment Can Support Certain Claims for Ab Circle Pro, Editors of ERSP, Nov. 16, 2009
5. Chicago Tribune
This brief news article summarizes some points from ConsumerReports.org and ERSP reports criticizing claims about the Ab Circle Pro. The author also notes that even if the advertising and customer service problems are resolved, it's not clear how effective the device will prove to be.
Review: Julie's Health Club: Health Claims Ab Circle Pro, Julie Deardorff, Jan. 12, 2010
This review notes that the 30-day trial for $14.95 will actually cost much more -- there is a $35 delivery charge and an additional shipping fee if the product is returned after the trial. The author also notes that the device can strain the arms, and lists other drawbacks as well -- concluding that there are better ways to lose fat and strengthen core muscles.
Review: Ab Circle Pro Review, Editors of BurnMyBellyFat.com
About 75 owners review the Ab Circle Pro here and less than one-third of them are pleased. Complaints include poor build quality, breakdowns, plus sore knees and backs. Even owners who find it fun and effective complain that it's poorly made.
Review: Ab Circle Pro, Contributors to Amazon.com
More than 400 comments are published here, most criticizing the Ab Circle Pro and recommending other ways to lose fat and strengthen core muscles. The company's customer service also earns criticism here.
Review: Has Anyone Tried The "Ab Circle Pro" If So Is It Worth The Price?, Contributors to BlurtIt.com
This detailed review provides a nice summary of points made elsewhere, concluding that it's unlikely to be the best choice for exercising abs.
Review: Ab Circle Pro Review, Editors of Galttech.com