The Flex Belt

Rating
There are times when it feels like it’s just too much effort to haul ourselves out to the gym for a bit of abdominal muscle mass maintenance. So it’s not surprising that every now and then we get tempted by devices such as The Flex Belt.

The Flex Belt sends electromagnetic shocks into your abs, to strengthen them and develop that six-pack you’ve always wanted to show off. We thought that would be worth a bit of investigation, and once we came back from our workout at the gym, this is what we found.

The Flex Belt Pros

  • Cleared by the FDA
  • Safe for both men and women
  • Only takes 30 minutes a day

The Flex Belt Cons

  • Many complaints of bad manufacturing
  • Gel pads need replacing regularly which is expensive
  • Doesn’t work well for obese people
Watchdog Rejected

The Flex Belt

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What You Need To Know About The Flex Belt

The Flex Belt is a device that applies electrical stimulation to muscles, the same as other devices treat muscle spasms, pain, and sports injuries. It delivers electrical impulses through the skin to make abdominal muscles contract. (That’s why it’s not great for obese people – there’s often too many fat layers for the electrical stimulation to travel through.)

Using The Flex Belt can strengthen abdominal muscles, but as for bringing out a visible well-chiseled six-pack, that’s going to have to be done through more traditional methods, like exercise and diet.

What Are The Side Effects Of The Flex Belt?

The most likely side effects Flex Belt users can encounter are skin irritations and burns from the gel pads and the electricity that passes from those pads into the body.

The FDA also advises that it should be very clear in manuals for equipment of this type that it’s not suitable for people using pacemakers. It shouldn’t be used on vital parts, across the chest, or anywhere near the brain. The FDA also advises caution if using when pregnant, menstruating, and suffering from conditions that could be affected by muscle contractions.

How Much Does The Flex Belt Cost?

From the website, a single Flex Belt will cost $199.99, but if you buy 4 of them for $649.99 you’ll save yourself $150. You’ll also need replacement gel pads – they last about 30 sessions, we’re told. One set will cost you $14.99, but there’s volume discount available.

However, there’s more to the Flex Belt range than just a waist trimmer belt. If you order the Flex Mini (for women, tones, lifts and firms the butt and backs of thighs) with your order of The Flex Belt you can save $70 off its normal retail price of $199.99.

The exact same savings apply if you order The Flex Arms (tones, tightens, firms and strengthens biceps and triceps on both arms simultaneously) with your The Flex Belt – down from $199.99 to $129.99. Then of course there’s shipping and handling costs, which can range from $16.95 to $39.95.

Those who’d prefer the postman didn’t know what they’ve ordered can take comfort in this little gem we found in The Flex Belt website’s FAQ:

“Is the package discreet? Yes. Your order is delivered in a plain package, with our name, TheFlexBelt.com., and your name and address.”

So that’s all right, then.

Our Verdict On The Flex Belt

Ouch! If you don’t shower properly beforehand and remove any oils or creams from the areas where the gel pads are going to go, those oils or creams can make the electrical current from those pads to “jump around the skin surface causing considerable discomfort”. (That’s something we’re not warned about!)

Even though The Flex Belt sells with impulse-purchase accessories for toning butts and arms, we’re told elsewhere on the web that EMS (electric muscle stimulation) is for large muscle groups only, and not for small groups like biceps and triceps. This makes us think the discounted $129.99 for the Flex Arms toning belt (but only when purchasing The Flex Belt) could be spent more usefully elsewhere.

Given that The Flex Belt tones and strengthens muscles, but you’re still going to have to exercise and diet to burn off all the fat around your abs before that perfect six-pack appears. You’re more likely to develop that six-pack just through exercise and diet in the first place.

So on the basis that The Flex Belt isn’t going to help you lose any weight, and you’re not going to have that set of finely-chiseled abs until you’ve shed the fat around your waist anyway (and The Flex Belt isn’t going to help you do that, either) we think it’s somewhat of a waste of money, and we’re going to reject it.

The Flex Belt Review

A while back, the Federal Trade Commission announced the government was charging several companies marketing ab belts like The Flex Belt with fraud and deception, so we weren’t terribly impressed by ab belts then – and still aren’t now.

The Flex Belt Facts

  • The Flex Belt is manufactured in Ireland by Bio-Medical Research Limited, who also gave the world the original Slendertone ab-toning belt and other similar commercially-available accessories
  • Bio-Medical Research has been operating for more than 40 years, and their medical devices have been prescribed in over 5000 clinics around the world
  • The Flex Belt won’t work well for obese users, as the fat layers interfere with muscle contraction – and the Flex belt won’t burn fat

The Food and Drug Administration holds that even though devices such as The Flex Belt “may possibly temporarily strengthen and tone parts of your muscles nevertheless they cannot provide you with hard six pack abs and cannot allow you to lose inches.”

So people who’ve fallen for the hype for devices such as The Flex Belt are bound to be disappointed, because in the main that hype is carefully phrased to only give the impression they’ll help you shed pounds, and look and feel great. But that’s without actually saying it in so many, legally-accountable words.

How to Use The Flex Belt

The Flex Belt’s instruction manual suggests a 30-day plan. For the first 4 weeks, you use it 5 times a week, so your abs have a 2-day rest period in which to recover. After that, you only need to use it 2 or 3 times a week for maintenance.

On the subject of saying things in so many words, the Flex Belt website (which doesn’t end in “.com” but for some strange reason ends in “.ca”, making it look like a Canadian website) features one Dr John Porcari enthusiastically telling us how wonderful this device is.

We looked for the good doctor elsewhere, and found the abstract of a paper he’d previously co-authored on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (part of the US National Library of Medicine).

It was entitled “Effects of electrical muscle stimulation on body composition, muscle strength, and physical appearance” and described a study of the claims of electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) devices based on measurements were taken on volunteers.

Strangely enough, the paper concluded that “EMS had no significant effect on the any of the measured parameters. Thus, claims relative to the effectiveness of EMS for the apparently healthy individual are not supported by the findings of this study.”

Now, what could have changed his mind?

The Flex Belt Concerns:

  • We’re concerned that even though it’s an American company, based in America, the Flex Belt website wants us to think it’s Canadian. Why would that be?
  • We’re also concerned for the people reading websites and/or watching infomercials which hint at the prospect of transforming from couch potatoes to perfectly-formed human beings, while still lounging in front of the TV on their couch
  • And even though we’re not experts in the field of electromagnetics, we can’t help thinking that constantly zapping muscle cells with any kind of electricity, for any reason, is such a great idea in the first place

What Does The Flex Belt Claim To Do?

From The Flex Belt’s website,

“Just slip on the comfortable toning ab belt and the clinically demonstrated, patented medical-grade technology stimulates the nerves that make your muscles contract and relax. As a result, you get an effective abdominal workout that targets all the muscles in your abdomen – all in just 30 minutes a day.”

and,

“The Flex Belt will stimulate all your major stomach muscles at the same time providing you with the perfect abdominal contraction – that means your upper abs, the lower abs and even your obliques are going to get worked from The Flex Belt… and it does all the work for you.”

Does The Flex Belt Work?

Yes, if you read carefully what it actually does. It will strengthen those muscles.

And no, if you expect it to do what you hope it’s going to do. You will lose weight and shed enough fat for your new abs to appear only through diet and exercise. Not by sitting in front of the TV while The Flex Belt zaps your midriff.

What Are The Ingredients of The Flex Belt?

The Flex Belt itself is designed for both men and women, with a waist size from 24 inches to 47 inches. The Flex Belt does not have any ingredients, however in the box you will get:

  • Rechargeable electronic controller unit: Connects to the belt and powers it.
  • Three gel pads: Which transmit electrical impulses to your abdominal muscles.
  • The battery charger
  • Full instruction manual: Including a quick start guide for those who don’t have the patience to read all the way through the instruction manual.

Does The Flex Belt Have Any Side Effects?

It could do if you don’t use it properly, or if you’ve got a pacemaker or sensitive skin. You could cause some serious harm to yourself by putting The Flex Belt on places where it’s not supposed to go (think across the chest, or anywhere near the brain).

Electric impulses are going to interfere with the function of any kind of pacemaker or similar equipment. If you leave creams and gels on your skin before using The Flex Belt, well, you might just find yourself getting a little shocked there.

Caution:
From The Flex Belt’s website,

“I have a pre-existing illness, can I still use a The Flex Belt® device?

If you have any of the following illnesses, you should not use The Flex Belt:

  • Heart problems, including people fitted with a pacemaker
  • Diabetes of the type which requires you to inject insulin
  • Cancer, particularly if you have cancerous lesions on your skin

You must wait at least 6 weeks after giving birth and 3 months after a caesarean before using The Flex Belt. This is to allow all scar tissue etc to heal fully before exercising the muscles. We would also recommend that you consult your doctor if you have any concerns.”

Are There Any Customer Reviews For The Flex Belt?

If you land on a certain page on The Flex Belt’s website, you can’t get away from them all – those reviews just keep going on, and on, and on.

Of course they’re all absolutely five-star positive assessments, so to get a bit of balance, we went to our go-to site for product reviews – Amazon.

Even there, the positive reviews outnumbered the negative ones, possibly for the reason one reviewer wrote,

Be aware folks that some of these 5 star ratings may be tainted by Flex Belt’s marketing practices. When you buy one, you are encouraged to go to amazon and rate it 5 stars, and in return, you get free replacement gel pads

But we have to say there were a lot of negative reviews complaining how badly people’s Flex Belts had been put together.

Away from that topic, other grumbles were much more amusing. How could we not love such comments as,

haven{t used it yet but it is exactly what I expected

I watched half a dozen videos on this product. Not one mentioned that it can’t be used with a belly button ring

And as for The Flex Belt’s promotions, we found,

Their commercial is hilarious. They reversed the photo shop. They put the skinnier face on the fat face, so when you see the skinny or fit person you think its authentic. If you watch their commercial you’ll see instantly what I’m talking about.

Your commercials make me want to rip my ears and eyes out, and people believing this works ruins my faith in humanity.

And this one left us just that tiny bit puzzled,

Good quality product with good instructions. Don’t expect to be a Greek God after using, but if you stick with program, you can’t definitely tell a difference.

Does The Flex Belt Offer a Money-Back Guarantee?

It does. You have 60 days in which to decide whether you’ve had any results using The Flex Belt, and if you’re not happy with it you can return it for a full refund minus shipping and handling.

But be warned – some reviewers didn’t buy their Flex Belt from the website and found it difficult, if not impossible, to get anywhere when claiming their refund.

Where Can I Buy The Flex Belt?

It’s available from The Flex Belt’s website, and we’ve also seen them, unused, on Amazon for about 75% of the price … and again, apparently unused, on eBay for much less than that.

But if you’re not certain whether it’s going to work for you, then best to buy it from the website because it’s easier to get a refund if you bought it from there. (And don’t forget to order a few extra gel pads.)

Summary: The Flex Belt


The Flex Belt

1.3 out of 5
The Flex Belt Rating

The Muscle Pills Watchdog does not recommend The Flex Belt.

  • Effectiveness
  • Safety
  • Price / Guarantee

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Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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1 comment on 'The Flex Belt'

  1. The controller failed after less then one month. The process to have the part replaced was extremely cumbersome and disappointing. They would not replace the so called “warranted” parts without first going through a very drawn out process. Troubleshooting then charger replacement, than batter replacement, than filing a formal product complaint, then assessment of parts after sending it back. Each step requiring a troubleshooting session and one week of mailing back and forth parts for each individual step. I am already two weeks into the process and anticipate about 6 more weeks to go through the back and forth process of unplugging and re-plugging. I purchased this item to use now, not wait months to “possibly” get something that may be functional one day (who knows?). Very poor warranty process and service.