5th Annual HF Biz Expo won't lack for new products

With companies everywhere scrambling to finish final tweaks on product and displays for the 5th Annual Health & Fitness Business Expo Aug. 7-9 in Denver, Colo., attending retailers will find they won't lack for new and revamped products and designs to peruse. SNEWS has taken the liberty to gather a bit of preliminary information.
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With companies everywhere scrambling to finish final tweaks on product and displays for the 5th Annual Health & Fitness Business Expo Aug. 7-9 in Denver, Colo., attending retailers will find they won't lack for new and revamped products and designs to peruse.

"From what I've seen and heard, I do think there will be a fair amount of new designs at the show this year," surmised Mike Olsen, Horizon Fitness' marketing manager.

SNEWS has taken the liberty to gather a bit of preliminary information about some of the products companies are launching as well as any new company directions -- of course, in a couple of cases, we can't divulge the big secrets prior to show unveilings.

This is in no way an all-inclusive report, but it's a meaty teaser about what's to come. In the weeks after the show closes, we will be running a number of reports describing in more detail everything we saw, including the new, the same-same, and the good, the bad, and the ugly. And there's always a little bit of everything. Of course, no one will cover it all for you as well as SNEWS will. So stay tuned for all our show coverage. If you can't make it, you'll think you were there.

Accufitness -- Don't miss the Hydryx towel being introduced at the show (list: $19.95). We got an early one to review and were amazed (see our reviews also at www.snewsnet.com). A chamois-like cloth that is stored wet, it cools down all by itself for a real feel-good wipe-down. Plus, check out the new Myotape that allows people to measure themselves accurately.

Bodycraft -- Although no late-breaking detail was available, Bodycraft has told SNEWS it will have several new home gyms based on its proprietary cable arm technology. They include a simple cable-arm home gym and another that is a horizontal bench press gym. In addition, the company said it won't have its cardiovascular prototypes at the show -- too many last minute tweaks to make sure they're absolutely right -- so don't hold your breath on that one. But they are pretty excited about the new gyms.

Bodyguard -- Look to the Canada-based company for new treadmills with new designs, new specs, new names and new pricing. Wow. Just all-around new. "There are some big changes in respect to the Bodyguard line of treadmills," Mike Cochrane told SNEWS. He promises that "some corporate decisions" will make the line extremely competitive for dealers, with great margins to go with it all. In addition, the company will launch its Newton Strength Systems line at the show. He added: "Our slogan for the show will be, 'It's a great time to be a Bodyguard dealer.'" We can't wait.

Body-Solid -- No goofing off has been going on here. The company will introduce six new gym systems, three new ab products and a whole line up of treadmills, bikes and ellipticals under its recently launched Endurance brand name for its cardiovascular line. Emphasis on price-value, as is Body-Solid's stock-in-trade.

Dosho Designs -- The company decided only a few weeks ago to attend the show and will have its line of fitness products including its newest Windjector as well as the Jam Gym and the PowerBoard. Sound familiar? Its founder, who won't be at the show, is the creator of the Bowflex.

Fitter -- Fitter, the company out of Canada that specializes in core strength, balance and agility, has become the sole distributor in Canada, with sales also in the United States for the Trikke (pronounced "trike"). It is a very new three-wheeled scooter-like vehicle without a motor (that's you!) where patented technology makes it possible for the rider to propel the Trikke forward without pushing or pedaling, but rather using leaning and rocking. Don't believe it? Try it at the show.

Horizon -- Horizon has been deeply involved of late in "re-developing the Horizon brand," Marketing Manager Mike Olsen told SNEWS. He said the company recognized that despite its success it had been inconsistent in strategy and messages. Expect to see some results of this belly-button pondering in Denver. For example, the former S-Class line of product (S standing for Specialty, if you had read between the lines) will be re-launched as the Elite series. But that's not just in name. The re-launch includes redesigns from the console masts and up. "These treadmills have an amazing industrial design and we feel they will generate a great deal of excitement at the show," Olsen said, citing list prices from $799 to $1,699. Look for pivoting foot platforms on new ellipticals, too.

JolieWorld -- A brand new company that was added to the show too late to even be in the show event guide, JolieWorld has shoe weights that can be attached to laces and secured with Velcro straps.

Keys Fitness -- Not to be outdone, Keys has added an upright bike, recumbent bike and elliptical trainer to its HealthTrainer line. It has now added another nine models to its 32-model Power System line. They include for example, a cable gym, leverage squat, flat/incline bench, and competition bench.

Life Fitness -- The company will of course be there, but not in its usual style of large front-of-hall booth. Instead, look for a tiny footprint toward the back of the hall, primarily a place to meet with any retailers and have a presence since the company said it has nothing new to display at the show. For that, look to the Club Industry show in October.

Muscle Dynamics -- As SNEWS reported a couple of months ago, Muscle Dynamics will introduce a bolted, 13-piece single station selectorized line and 20 free-weight units called Dynamax Pro -- all made in China. They are the first non-U.S.-made products after 31 years of exclusively "Made in the U.S.A." products. They are designed for vertical markets and because of the manufacturing change will sell for about 30 percent less than the company's existing welded selectorized series.

Nautilus Health & Fitness Group -- The company is relaunching its Nautilus elliptical line with aesthetic redesigns based on dealer feedback. Also look for SelectTech, a new selectorized dumbbell technology so users can buy one unit and get the flexibility of a whole rack of dumbbells. Schwinn products introduced will include two upright and two recumbent bikes with adjustable handlebars and pedals, plus two treadmills and one elliptical -- all with an entry-level price point for specialty. StairMaster will have a new, redesigned Club/Track treadmill.

Polar -- The heart-rate-monitor specialists will formerly unveil to specialty fitness in a show format its soft fabric transmitter strap. (SNEWS saw introductory models at The Super Show in January and was duly impressed, although we haven't tested them yet.)

Powertec -- Ain't no lounging been happening at this company. Mark McEvoy tells SNEWS the company will have eight to 10 new SKUs and "a bunch of redesigns." For example, you'll find a new ab machine that has, as he says, a consumer price point with vertical quality. Revisions include the chin dip assist, and two home gyms. "We stay busy," he added.

Prospot -- Look for a new product unveiling on Friday Aug. 8 on the show floor, but the company isn't saying a WORD before that. Said President Mike Slawinski: "We're trying to generate a little excitement." One hint from him: "This does kind of cross-over into another category other than free weights," but he promises they aren't doing CV.

Rist-Lok -- A brand new company with one product: a wrist-support system for strength-training as well as activities like tennis or motor-bike sports. Founder Ted Butch is awfully excited so don't miss it.

Schiek Sports -- Continuing with its patented contour technology, Schiek will introduce a new, wider leather lifting belt -- this one being 6 inches in the back for extra back support, which will complement its current model at 4.75 inches. It has a built-in lumbar pad, copper rivets and a two-prong buckle closure system. Suggested retail: $64.95.

Smooth Fitness -- The formerly exclusive e-tail company will have an expanding line of its retail Evo equipment. Look for two new ellipticals (lists: $999 and $1,399) and five new treadmills. The new Evo treads are redesigned, with an FX series that is lower priced. Lists last year were $2,299 on the then-Evo1 (basically the same as the FX4), but it will be dropped to a stunning $1,699. The other FX treadmill to show up in Denver will be the FX2 -- list of $999, folding, and rolls on four wheels like a shopping cart, we were told. Get this feature: The pedestals are separate from the frames so even the largest and heaviest of users won't get that annoying console-shake. But wait, there's more (that's what they always say): Ellipticals, too. And look for a preview of its health-club-level Evo treadmill that has a software feature that analyzes a runner's gait. OK, race you to the booth.

SportsArt -- The company is unveiling three new families of exercise cycles (targeting different price points) each with an upright and recumbent model and different features, not to mention new design. For example, the new C51r recumbent (list: $799) has that super-cool step-through design for easy access, and a thickly padded seat with side bolsters for extra comfort and support (no comment on that!). The C52r (list: $1,199) recumbent is the first to incorporate SportsArt's new "ufit technology," that includes a new mesh seatback, and has a heart-rate training program. The top-end C53 series targets not only high-end home fitness but also commercial markets, with the recumbent (list: $1,599) also using the new ufit technology. Oh, there's more, but we can't jam it all in here.

True -- Leading the lineup is the new 550 ZTX treadmill with a 10-year parts warranty on its 3.0 HP continuous-duty motor and heart-rate control. Look for True's hallmark soft-select belt and a 22-inch-by-60-inch belt area. A new silicone lubricant allows it to run extremely quietly, we're told. List: $5,859. True will also -- after a few fits and starts -- launch the home version of its TrueStretch flexibility trainer -- a smaller unit than its club model at 4-7 x 4 feet x 6-11.5. List: $1,195.

Vectra Fitness -- Can't say much now, but look for a "significant new product" from Vectra, we were told by the company.

Vision -- Vision will relaunch its iNetTV products on some equipment so consumers can exercise while watching TV or surfing the Web. iNetTV products are available in an upright bike, semi-recumbent model and elliptical trainer, and also come with heart-rate training programs.

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