In the I.T world you either learn or you die....
I'm just about to finish the SANS SEC560 course - and my opinion of it is mixed.
On one hand, if you've never really done any hacking before, it's a good start, it gives you an pointer to the major tools in the industry, and gives a reasonable understanding of how those tools work.
On the other hand, if you've done a bit of hacking or security work as a SysAdmin, you'll feel bogged down with a lot of the 'basics'. If you've done a CCNA or MCSE you'll know what I mean - you're taught a lot of stuff that is nice to know, but really you'll never need to memorise it in the real world, you'd just look it up. As an example - knowing that its the "-L" option and not the "-l" option in Windows netcat to make it a persistant listener is useful to memorise, in real life you'd just have a quick 5 second google.
The course does have a reasonable amount of hands on exercises, but they feel rushed. The exam itself is all multiple-choice answers, there isn't any practical element to it, so you could in theory get away with just a paper-based cert without having actually touched any of the tools or broken into any systems.
Personally I went with the SEC560 purely because I wanted the certification rather than the training - but I wouldn't say the training was a waste of time at all, especically if you've done little security work previously.
I'm actually doing the on-demand version of the course, and I'd probably recommend that to anyone whos not doing ethical hacking as their day job. There is a lot of memorise in the course, and I don't think I could take in 5 days worth (such as at one of the conferences) and then pass the exam without already having a good deal of experience with the tools and techniques that they teach. In my case - I've been doing 5 hours a day, including making notes, attempting the exercises and using the tools in my own lab evironment, and I get through about 2 sections a day, and there are 23 sections, and I'm fairly familiar with the concepts, tools and techniques they teach.