Ridiculous Fitness Accessories That Make You Look Like an Idiot

fitness gear
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

Finding the motivation to exercise is tough -- far easier is buying a gadget or piece of gear that promises efficiency, accountability, or just makes you look like someone who works out.

Some fitness accessories have a discernible purpose, a time and a place to use them. But if you're outside of that time and place... well... it's your life, but don't be surprised if you get a few stares at the absurdity of wearing arm sleeves to go for a jog.

Other accessories really just shouldn't exist. Like, at all. In part because they offer little legitimate benefit, and in part because they just look ridiculous. Combine the two categories, and you quickly get a picture of all the ridiculous gear that makes you look like an idiot.

ridiculous fitness gear
Daniel Fishel/Thrillist

1. Fanny packs

True story: I wear a fanny pack every single day while walking my dogs. And every single day, I look like an idiot.

Fanny packs are a prime example of a useful tool (they carry stuff! hands-free!) that's never going to be socially acceptable at the gym or out in public during an average workout. Doubly true if you're still using one to lug around a Walkman or Discman, or if you're using one to carry nutritional gels during a 5k. (You don't need nutritional gels during a 5k.)

The real question is, do you care? Clearly I don't, so go ahead and just do you.

2. The DISQ

This wearable gym is like a fanny pack on steroids. It's like wearing a set of Princess Leia's hair buns attached to your hips, which are then attached by a pulley system to a pair of ankle straps that you then wear to the park like you're a "normal person" just out for a jog. But you're not. You are NOT a normal person. You've got Princess Leia's bright orange hair buns attached to your hips with a pulley system attached to your ankles. So unless you've joined one of CRUNCH Gym's DISQ group fitness classes where you can wear your DISQ while blending in with the crowd, it's probably best to just leave well enough alone.

3. The Runbell

Conceptually? The Runbell makes a lot of sense -- it's like a bike bell for runners so runners can easily alert others on a street or trail that they're approaching from behind. I really like it... conceptually.

Then again, it's a bike bell for runners. Worn on a finger. While running. So there's that.

4. Vibram FiveFingers

No one's knocking the benefits of minimalist footwear -- there's certainly been enough research to back the claims that wearing minimalist-style shoes can help reduce the likelihood of some injuries, particularly during jumping and cutting exercises. On the other hand, some research suggests this kind of footwear may increase the likelihood of Achilles injuries.

Overriding years of research is that glove-style toe shoes like Vibram FiveFingers just look stupid. The end.

5. Leg warmers

OK, barre class aficionados, it's time to come to terms with the fact that you're not professional ballerinas. You don't need leg warmers to keep your legs warm -- I'd like to introduce you to these wonderful inventions called yoga pants. Maybe you've heard of them? They do the job and look a whole lot more fashionable. Usually.

6. Wrist and ankle weights

Aside from the fact that they look ridiculous, wrist and ankle weights can actually alter your natural walking or jogging mechanics and lead to potential injury. Plus, they're uncomfortable.

If you want to add weight to your workout, try a weight vest instead. Not that they look any less  ridiculous, but at least they're more mechanically sound.

7. Sauna suits

Donning a head-to-toe vinyl sweatsuit while exercising has got to be one of the grossest, weirdest, most uncomfortable, and, frankly, dangerous decisions you can make. These awful contraptions literally steam the water right out of you which is not a legitimate solution for weight loss. It's a legitimate solution for chaffing, sweat-soaked underwear and potential heat stroke. The outcomes are almost as sexy as these suits look.  

Unless, of course, you're Matthew Modine in Vision Quest, in which case a sauna suit will help take you all the way to the state championships.

8. Bodysuits and leotards

For real, could someone please explain the resurgence in bodysuits and leotards? They certainly don't make anyone look better, so how, in actual fact, do they improve a workout? Don't they give you camel toe and wedgies? Isn't it harder to take a bathroom break? Isn't head-to-toe spandex uncomfortable? So many questions, so few answers.

9. Kangoo jumps

Like The DISQ, Kangoo Jumps have their place, and that place is most certainly in a group fitness setting where you can jump and prance while blending in with a herd of likeminded, weirdly hoofed humans. Unless, of course, you're very brave. Then, by all means, go it alone.

10. Compression sleeves

Like leg warmers, if you're wearing compression sleeves on your forearms or calves while at the gym or while taking a low-key neighborhood jog, you're trying too hard. Save those bad boys for race day or post-workout recovery when research indicates they do the most good.

11. Oversized headphones

Earmuff-sized headphones are a perfectly legitimate fashion choice if you happen to be in the NBA. I mean, what isn't a perfectly legitimate fashion choice if you're a multi-millionaire sports star? But if you're just wandering around the gym, these oversized headphones seem like an odd choice, given that they lack many of the sports-specific features other, smaller wireless earphones provide. Like secure-fit ear wings and warranties against sweat-related damage.

12. GoPro body mount

Look, if you're climbing mountains, careening down hills, or jumping out of a plane, by all means, feel free to strap a camera to your body to record your adventure. But if you're just giving your social media followers a play-by-play while you take your cruiser bike for a spin around the block? Maybe trust your followers' imaginations and leave the helmet-mounted camera at home. You don't need to be connected ALL the time.

13. Hypoxic training mask

You are not Darth Vader, and it's highly unlikely that: 1) you're using a hypoxic training mask correctly, or 2) that even if you are, it's doing you any good. Studies on hypoxic training (simulating the effects of training at high altitudes) are limited at best, sketchy at worst, and frankly, not entirely convincing. And don't get me started on the sparse number of studies on the masks themselves. What, pray tell, are you training so hard for that you need to look like you're worried about chemical warfare at your local gym? Just take the mask off and train harder. It works.

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Laura Williams is an exercise physiologist and fitness writer who has either witnessed or tried every single one of these idiotic accessories. Take a stab at guessing which I've tried on Twitter @girlsgonesporty.