• Thu, Oct 18 2012

I Was An Infomercial Guinea Pig (And It Was Awful)

I just wanted to look good in a bikini! Was that too much to ask?

Yes. I admit it, I’m vain. I’ve done fad diets, crash diets. I’m willing to endure moderate torture to look good.

So about a year ago I auditioned for something called a “fitness test group” for a popular workout DVD series. “Test group” is the technical term for “people in an infomercial”. For the audition, the goal was to show up and NOT look good in a bikini and pose for polaroids in front of a roomful of strangers. A few days later, I was thrilled to receive an email informing me that I was out of shape enough to be a part of the group that would last two months.

I, and approximately 30 other women, would be put through extreme workouts and calorie restricted diets to induce fast results for the workout DVD’s newest edition. No one was paid to participate, but we would be receiving FREE group training five days a week from a “real celebrity trainer” free food for the duration of the program, and a membership to a swanky gym that cost more than my monthly rent. The only obligations: to try our best, show up on time, produce results, not cheat on the diet, no drinking booze, (I’m sober so that wasn’t a problem), no coffee (hell no, I need my one vice, so I had to keep that around!) Yay! This was going to be fun!…well maybe.

Now keep this VERY important tidbit in mind!

When you see before and after pics during an infomercial you only see about 5 or 6 people featured. Those people are a fraction of the people that were a part of the process. Fitness test groups have anywhere between 30-60 subjects.

The group of women participating in my infomercial looked like a Benetton Ad. There were women of different races, types, ages and in different physical conditions. Some were mothers of four who hadn’t worked out in years. Others were models, who didn’t need to lose any weight I could see. The point of the test group was to get a variety of people with drastic results.

Getting even 10 television worthy success stories can be tricky. The bigger the group, the higher the possible success rates. You’ll almost ALWAYS see the infamous: “results not typical” in teeny tiny print at the bottom of the screen during these infomercials.

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  • Cat

    I always wondered if those before and after shots were real!! Thanks for the inside look. Sounds terrifying/awesome.

  • Trish

    Do you have a job? How is having to be at the gym at 10am on weekdays difficult? I have to assume you are still a college student or something. Only college students think 10am is early.

    • http://twitter.com/sarahannelloyd Sarah Anne Lloyd

      I’ve been out of college for a few years and 10 a.m. still feels early for me a lot of the time :( Especially for anything demanding at all, like a rigorous workout.

    • mm

      I feel you, girl. I haaaaated having a full-time job where I had to be at work by 9 every day. Now that I’m back in school I have not one class that starts before 12, and on my work days I start at 10, which is still painful. I don’t even feel awake until 7:00 pm. Trish is mean. Obviously adults deal with getting to work in the morning no matter how much it sucks BUT…some people are morning people, some are not. That has absolutely nothing to do with how old you are.

    • curiouschick

      So your regular job doesn’t start until after 10?

    • http://twitter.com/sarahannelloyd Sarah Anne Lloyd

      I’ve been out of college for a few years and 10 a.m. still feels early for me a lot of the time :( Especially for anything demanding at all, like a rigorous workout.

  • Kelly

    Very interesting! Any one else thinking she is talking about Tracy Anderson?

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • http://www.facebook.com/spockish Erynn Petrulis

    I thought your before picture was pretty…

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • besides

    so sometimes she is into the program and sometimes she is against it. sounds like she needs to seek counseling. she was free to leave at anytime but came back just to rebel then participate at times… i’m confused.

  • jamiepeck

    You looked good in a bikini already. This sounds like a nightmare!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003550070412 Laura Brian

    Losing weight and sticking to any workout routine is going to be hard in any situation. I’ve been doing it on my own and would kill to have a ruthless trainer…she WAS lucky.

  • G.L.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! This was a really interesting article to read.

  • Kat

    Personally i think your body in the purple bikini (before picture) looks healthy. You just need to wear a high waisted pant bikini with thicker straps (no spaghetti straps) and one which lifts up your breasts, then you’ll look much better and feel confident.

    Those quick fix starvation diets and excessive exercise regimes last for only a short time then when people have lost the weight, they will, almost definitely gain it all back, even being heavier than when they first started. It just isn’t healthy or manageable, or smart.