Health & Fitness Business ’09: Accessories -- some old, some new, some just tweaked

A smaller show meant three things when it came to accessory exhibitors: Fewer accessory brands made the trek to the Health & Fitness Business Show; if they did, they pared back on booth size; and just like with equipment brands, for the most part, it wasn’t the year to reveal everything you had in your deck of innovation. That’s not to say there weren’t a few highlights and new products to pique the interest.

A smaller show meant three things when it came to accessory exhibitors:

>> Fewer accessory brands made the trek to the Health & Fitness Business Show,

>> If they did, they pared back on booth size, and

>> Just like with equipment brands, for the most part, it wasn’t the year to reveal everything you had in your deck of innovation. 

That’s not to say there weren’t a few highlights and new products to pique the interest. There was just less of it.

Take a skim with us through what we did see, what was new, and what caught our eye.

Bodyblade –Talk to founder and creator Bruce Hymanson and it won’t be long before you’re convinced this is a great piece -- but not exactly easy to master. Back at the show after a number of years, Hymanson was holding court in his 10-x-10 with a big smile for everybody, per usual, asking folks to give it a try to “unleash the power of their core.” Although not new, this is certainly a great add-on piece for those looking for an all-around training routine. It’s simple: A flexible blade with a thicker grip in the middle. You stand, squat, lie on the ground or whatever while keeping the vibration going and staying stabile -- all using your core and not hands or wrists. MSRPs $50 to $160.

Body-Solid – Long known for a broad array of accessories, the company this year rebranded the line to “Body-Solid Tools.” It still includes all the must-haves, such as home gym add-ons and training gear like inversion boots and chin-up bars, but also has medicine balls, stability balls and weighted fitness bars. Tweaking and updating the look, the company has added color to help code sizes and help with coordination, and has added individual packaging with prominent branding.

Grip Strips – A newbie in a “micro-booth,” Grip Strips was touting disposable, adhesive that sticks to the pads of your hand below your fingers as an alternative to weight-lifting gloves. Non-latex and hypo-allergenic, the company mentioned them as alternatives when traveling or as something a club or gym could sell for members who forget their gloves, or as a way to simply avoid gloves that “get gross” from sweat and use. Basically, they look like curved Band-aids you put on the palm of your hand. (MSRP $9.95 for 12)

Hyper Wear – The name didn’t quite explain all that was going on in this small booth in the back. It was named “hyper” initially because of the way the company’s original product -- a form-fitting weight vest -- put your training into “hyper” overdrive. Today, it still has the vest (MSRP $140-$200), as well as a pre-cooling vest, but we found the SandBells to be most intriguing. Imagine a Frisbee-like disc that is a thick neoprene bag filled with sand. Different sizes accommodate different weights, from 2 pounds to 50 pounds. Buy them filled or unfilled. We liked the way you could grab them easily while also training your grip muscles in hands and forearm and the way you could safely swing them around you and even drop them. Heck, they don’t even roll away when you do! and they can be used at outdoor bootcamps and in schools for a slightly safer weight then dumbbells or kettlebells. MSRPs $8-$86, unfilled.

Life Fitness – In its first full foray into accessories, Life Fitness debuted two fitness kits filled with a wide array of accessories and workout guides. The Body Shape Kit (MSRP $299) and the other is a Body Shape+ Plus (MSRP $399) both hold everything from hand weights and balance boards to rubber tubing and pedometer watches, plus information about nutrition and workout plans. The goal, per the company, was to address the five main elements of a healthy and fit lifestyle – cardio, strength, balance, nutrition and, of course, education – with the mission being to help people lose weight and maintain it, build muscle, get healthier or just plain start a regular fitness routine. We think the kits should be great holiday gifts, for example for a woman or man whose spouse knows he or she wants to get started but doesn’t know where to start or what to get – and can’t spend a few thousand on equipment. The kits may not be the best add-on for somebody already working out since the person may have a couple of the items, but for a newbie, it could be a wonderful one-stop shop, this box full o’ cool workout stuff.


Lifeline – Run by former Johnson exec Bill Sotis since January 2009, Lifeline isn’t at all a new company but it has now returned to the fitness show, and Sotis and his new team are updating and upgrading everything. Most known for being started by “jump rope king” Bobby Hinds, Lifeline is changing. A lot. New packaging, new logos, new branding, updated product and more, which the team is still working on. There is nothing the team isn’t touching. Its showing at HFB was just a scratch on the surface; nevertheless, it already had an update to a weighted jump rope that came in two weights -- ¾ pounds and 1 pound (MSRPs $19.95 and $24.95) and have a patented adjustment and locking system that slides into the handle. Also shown was the Quik Fit rubber resistance cable system that allows interchangeable tubes in sturdy handles (MSRP $11.95). But what really seemed to be interesting a lot of retailers was the attractive, 4-foot-by-8-foot, interactive slat wall display that came free when the product for it (nearly $1,000 worth) was purchased. The display allowed for a great showing of the tubes, handles, ropes and other gear in a way that made sense.

Mr. Nobody Fitness – Mr. Nobody showed up in a suit in a half-booth with a table to pitch his instructional DVD. Craig Dickinson, aka Mr. Nobody, said he called it that since he wasn’t a big name or actor but just a regular guy.

O2 Life – The Taiwanese company showed a “suit” for a stability ball from a fine mesh to keep it from sliding and slipping or chafing. It also had a new patent-pending Yoga Brick with a cutout in the center to facilitate better grip and handling.


Productive Fitness – Also not a big name, Productive Fitness on the other hand is a pro at educational media from posters and handbooks to DVDs. It launched just one DVD, called "The Great Dumbbell DVD." (List $25.95)

Spri Products – With more than a year under its belt since its acquisition by Gaiam, there is more obvious evidence of the relationship: Now Spri is also carrying most of the Gaiam line of yoga, Pilates and other mind-body product and will be eliminating its own product of that ilk. In other words, any mind-body gear Spri sells will be Gaiam gear. The range includes yoga mat bags, a full line of mats of all thickness and sizes (including a lightweight, foldable traveling yoga mat), yoga mat straps, blocks, straps, DVDs and all the other stuff. We particularly liked the reversible traveling mat with sticky rubber on one side and a softer, absorbent grid on the other -- great for a second mat layer or, at 1 pound, for a traveling accessory (MSRP $29.98).

--Therese Iknoian

The SNEWS® team of seasoned reporters covers a trade show to seek out product highlights, indications of a trend (to a product category, a company or the industry) or products that are new to the market. In our post-show reports, we do not write about every last piece of gear or equipment we have seen, although, promise, we have most likely seen nearly everything. Even if not in a show report, you never know how information may be included in a future report, trend watch, product review or story. If you have any comments or questions, please email us at



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