In obesity-ravaged America, the TV airwaves are packed with infomercials plugging exercise gadgets that promise sure-fire fitness results with minimal effort.
And occasionally, one of them becomes both a massive seller and a cultural phenomenon.
In the past couple of years, one that has achieved this rare feat has been the Shake Weight. For the uninitiated, the product consists of a dumbbell with spring-loaded weights on each end. Users are told to grip the device in the middle with both hands, and then shake it as though you were preparing a can of spray paint. This causes the weights to violently pulsate up and down in a piston-like motion.
As most UAE people have their own battles with scales, it's somewhat surprising that Shake Weights have taken so long to reach our shores. But that wait is over: the Dubai-based sporting goods firm Al Rakyan General Trading's shipment of 3,000 Shake Weights has arrived.
Whether the contraptions will be the object of ridicule they've become in North America and the UK remains to be seen.
The trim actress who presents the TV ad boasts that this is "a flab-busting breakthrough that trims your arms and shapes your shoulders at the same time". She says the gadget uses "a completely new workout technology called dynamic inertia, which can increase muscle activity by up to 300 per cent when compared with a standard dumbbell.
"This ignites the muscles in your arms, shoulders and chest, meaning you can work out your entire upper body in just six minutes a day.
"In fact," she declares, "if you had the Shake Weight in your hands right now, you'd feel the results before the end of the commercial!"
These kind of grandiose claims are part and parcel of the world of TV infomercials, yet since its launch, it's sparked a flurry of comedic interest.
So far, more than four million people have viewed the promo video on YouTube, which has then been spoofed by the likes of Saturday Night Live and South Park. And when it was featured on the US comedian Ellen DeGeneres's daytime talk show, it reduced the host to a laughing fit and floods of tears.
A year later, when Shake Weights were launched in the UK, the Daily Mail newspaper asked: "The most ludicrous fitness gadget of all time?"
Despite, or maybe because of these parodies, and as if to prove there's no such thing as bad publicity, Shake Weights have earned about US$50 million (Dh183.7m) in sales for its manufacturers, FitnessIQ.
Al Rakyan's general manager Marcose Isaac claims that his company is the first importer of Shake Weights in the region, and expects they will become a huge hit with the country's heavyweight populace.
"In other markets, they've pretty much sold out and it should do the same over here. You know, modern people don't have very much spare time for exercise, so these are perfect for those who want a thorough workout but don't have the time."
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