You probably came here because you were searching for fitness challenge scams or gym challenge scams. Well, you’ve come to the right place, and yes it is a scam. Read on for why.
This post is based off the Krav Maga Academy Scam but applies to any fitness challenge scam as there are likely common elements.
Fitness Challenge Scam
This is the general gist of the scam but there are different variations. -Usually you see an ad on social media or online. Occasionally it’s even a flyer at a gym
-Promises transformational results with little to no cost. All it needs is your “commitment to improve yourself”
-At the consultation you suddenly find out that there are fees or “refundable deposits”
-There’s pressure to sign up then and there
-Sales pitch tries to hype you up and associate your self worth to accomplishing their challenge
Krav Maga Academy Scam – Full Story
Taken from my review of Krav Maga Academy
This is my story of how I fell victim to this type of scam myself. I saw a Facebook ad about this “free fitness challenge”, looking for people who want to transform their body for free. I click through on it and see a very sales-like page. I make an appointment and it turns out to be at a local martial arts gym in New York City (where I am based) called “Krav Maga Academy”.
When I show up, there are many participants there as well. We get weighed and after quite a bit of waiting, we are led on a brief tour. We then get shuffled into a small room where they run us through a Powerpoint sales pitch.
The pitch consists of telling stories of past participants who changed their life and how their system is the only one that works. Something about 3 pillar system and how they’re the only ones to do it. Then the sales woman does a lot of hyping up where you’re supposed to raise your hand to show enthusiasm and she questioned why I didn’t look excited.
Near the end of the presentation, she brings up that she wants a “deposit” of $600 that will be returned to you if you hit your goals. Then she goes around the group and makes arbitrary goals for each person. I was told to gain 10 lbs (I’m currently 130 lbs and my body type stays relatively around that weight for years… I’ve never been 140 lbs ever!). We were also told that she needs a yes or not “today”.
I think it was weird how she wanted me to gain 10 lbs but another participant to gain only 5 lbs, so I negotiate her down to 7 lbs gain. Right as I’m about to sign the contract, she adds in an extra condition! 7 lbs weight gain AND body fat under 7%. I negotiate her up to 8% but that’s still crazy since there’s no way I’m 7% body fat. Then she says she can’t answer any more questions since she has another appointment but we need to let her know today. Talk about high pressure sales tactics!
I ended up signing at the last minute, but then realized my mistake! I asked some fitness friends and they informed me why that goal was unfair and impossible. Firstly, gaining 7 lbs in a short time without gaining any fat is near impossible. Secondly, inaccuracy of the scale to measure bodyfat makes it very risky since it could fluctuate and there’s no margin for error. In fact, I “gained” 0.2% body fat in 20 minutes between the first measure and when I asked for a re-measure… a fluctuation that would’ve made me lose the challenge (and $600). Therefore I got scammed!
Why It’s a Scam
The scam usually demands a “deposit”, which you typically only find out about after you’ve signed up for a consultation.
They claim that the deposit is just to keep you motivated, that it really is free. Well, if that’s the case, why do they set a weight loss or body fat loss target instead of just a “come to the gym X times a week” target?
That’s because they want to keep your deposit, which is usually expensive. The $600 deposit from Krav Maga Academy is more expensive than their normal unlimited classes option and way more expensive than you could get on Groupon.
The challenges are usually very difficult if not impossible. For example, the challenge I got from the local scam was for gaining 7 lbs with no bodyweight gain based on their scale (+7 lbs total weight, not exceeding 7% body fat). First, any bodybuilder will tell you in the short term bulking up will be a mix of fat and muscle, usually half and half. Secondly, the measurement from a digital scale varies wildly. Now as you can read online, digital scales for bodyweight fluctuates wildly.
Body fat scales use a method known as bioelectrical impedance (BIA) to estimate your body composition. They run a light electrical current through your body, measure the degree of resistance (or impedance) to the flow of the current, then use this information to estimate your body fat percentage
Researchers from Maastricht University looked at changes in body composition in a group of male bodybuilders. They compared several body fat tests — including bioelectrical impedance, the technology used in body fat scales — with something called the 4-compartment model. Bioelectrical impedance was the least accurate of all the methods. In fact, the error rate got as high as 8%.
Now if the scale varies by + or – 8%, and their goal was for me to stay 7%… well, just out of randomness that’s impossible to consistently hit that target.
Even their sales pitch site is a scam! When you arrive on their page, it says the offer expires in 5 minutes. Well guess what, it’s not actually an expiration time since everyone sees that message.
It also says only 6 spots left. Also a lie, since coming back to that site after signing up still says 6 spots left!
I Fell Victim To The Scam – What Now?
Did you come across this page because you already got scammed? Well, there may still be ways to get your money back.
Depending on your jurisdiction, there may be a “cooling off” period where you are legally entitled to request your money back. For example, in New York, you can request a refund for any reason (or no reason at all) within 3 days for any wellness center. This includes gyms and martial arts studios.
Under New York law, you have to send in written cancellation by certified mail. Check your jurisdiction for the laws that apply to your area.