Putting "toning clothes" to the test

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -  Emily, Christi, and Claudette were curious about the new toning clothes made by Reebok and Fila.

"I'm a little skeptical," Claudette said.

"I'm always looking to try what's new out there," added Emily.

"If they work, fabulous, but we'll see," said Christi.

They were the perfect testers for an unscientific study in whether the gear lives up to it's claims.  Christi and Claudette were given toning tops from Reebok and Emily got the pants from Fila.  All of the clothing was priced in the $50 range per piece.

WBTV asked the ladies to wear the gear while working out in the gym, and while running, for three weeks.

Both companies promise similar results from the clothes.  They claim the fabric compresses the body and makes you stand up straighter while looking thinner.

It was the other claim, that resistance bands strategically sewn into the clothes increase how hard your muscles work, had one doctor scratching his head.

"I find that harder to believe.  50%, which is what Fila claims is the increase in muscle resistance, seems like a lot.  I would expect if they did scientific studies they'd find some difference.  Whether it would be statistically significant I'm uncertain about that," said Dr. Keith Anderson, board certified in Sports Medicine with Presbyterian Healthcare.

After three weeks we checked back in with our testers.

The first problem came with sizing of the clothing.  The ladies who wore the tops had to exchange their size smalls, their regular size, for mediums.

"It took my husband and I to try to put it on and we still couldn't get it.  I had an arm stuck because it is so tight," Christi said.

Even a larger size didn't seem to help.

"I dreaded wearing it because it was so uncomfortable," Claudette admitted.

They said the bands were hot and noisy.  Christi said the sleeves were constantly riding up.

"It does make me stand taller when I wear it and it makes my waist go in about an inch when I wear it but I really can't breathe," said Christi.

As for the pants, Emily had to go down a size for a good fit.

"They're comfortable and I've enjoyed wearing them," she said.

They weren't great for her 20 mile runs because she said the seams rubbed against her legs but she thinks for the average person going to the gym, the pants are a good fit.

Still none of the women said their bodies changed at all after three weeks of regular wear and Christi suggested trying weights or resistance bands for working out instead of counting on clothing to work wonders.

Dr. Anderson had a different perspective.

"Whether this is a gimmick or not if one person, who wouldn't otherwise be exercising, decides to put these clothes on and start a program and stick with it, I see that as a benefit," he said.

To hear what the doctor things about whether the clothes could actually hurt you, watch the video at the top of this page.

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