A smattering of new or eye-catching fitness products at The Super Show

Although the gasping Super Show had a few sparks of light in the new speaker series and parties, as well as the sizzling licensed and team areas, many exhibitors in the fitness segment of the show left the new gear and equipment at home or behind closed doors, leaving only a smattering of product ooo's and aaah's for attendees -- what few actually were in the aisles.
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Although the gasping Super Show had a few sparks of light in the new speaker series and parties, as well as the sizzling licensed and team areas, many exhibitors in the fitness segment of the show left the new gear and equipment at home or behind closed doors, leaving only a smattering of product ooo's and aaah's for attendees -- what few actually were in the aisles.

One bright spot for the show, Jan. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla., were tours for the media in team, apparel and fitness areas led on-call by several experts. They brought positive comments from consumer media who, despite the smallness of the show, can still be baffled about where to look and what might be new. Some two dozen tours were offered: "It gives the media a great overview of the market since most media are pressed for time, especially television," said organizer Jeff Blumenfeld.

On the speaker series were also two luncheons, one focusing on a retail panel (with TSA's Doug Morton), and one on a manufacturer's panel (with K2's Richard Heckmann and Under Armour's Kevin Plank). Both were standing-room-only or from 150 to 200 attendees. (A box lunch was free to attendees, although most didn't just eat and run, so maybe it wasn't just the lunch.)

"This show is representative of all the change in the industry," Morton told the crowd at the retail panel on the second day of the show. "It's smaller, more focused, and it's moved twice. And we can expect more dramatic changes in the industry."

SNEWS® took to the aisles to see if any product popped or what companies were showing what in fitness and related training and workout areas. Some companies were there (Horizon and Fitness Master, for example), but had nothing new to show and focused on pre-planned buyer sit-downs or meetings with international representatives. Despite negative comments about the show from manufacturers, a few said with crossed fingers that one "golden nugget" can still make it worthwhile.

For the full post-show wrap-up, see our story Jan. 24 for inside information about what was going on, who said what, and the skinny on approximate numbers at the 20th annual show ("The Super Show up for major reassessment"). Below, are a few hits of products seen -- not all, mind you, but a sampling, in alphabetical order:

Bladez -- Although only two years old, Bladez fitness had the wow product of the show, but kept it behind closed doors to be able to have quiet meetings with key buyers. Basically, we're talking moderately priced equipment with impressive LCD screens that will get a full coming-out-party later this year.

Danskin Fitness -- Continuing to hold tight on its niche of well-thought-out simple fitness gear for women, Danskin showed a tweaked line of benches and gym packages. Its highest-end fold-up gym package has moved the plate and bar organizer from underneath to behind the bench so it can fold up and take only 2 square feet of room. The contoured back cushion allows shoulder blades to move freely. Silly perhaps but "fingernail-friendly" weight plates will certainly attract a few women. The package (MSRP $250) includes the bench, two dumbbell bars, a full-length barbell bar, quick-release collars, 14 plates ranging from one to five pounds, and an instructional poster and DVD.

Fitness Quest -- Putting the focus on an expanded New Balance equipment line, Fitness Quest had also dropped the show and bedazzle from the booth (no rockin' loud dance acts for the first time) to not only save some money but allow non-stop quiet for uninterrupted meetings. "We used to measure success by quantity of people and electricity," said Mike Clark, executive vice president. "Now we measure it in the quality of meetings, and we don't need the flash." The company now has 11 pieces in the equipment line with four being exclusive to specialty, including a recumbent with a wickedly comfortable seat back ($1,500 retail) that is licensed from the design of Herman Miller's famous chair. The bike also has a two-sided oversized pedal with one side contoured for comfortable pedaling barefoot or in stocking feet.

Gaiam -- Known as the yoga company, Gaiam's newest and highly touted product was a slight departure -- something called the Power Breathe a small device that is said to train the lungs and inspiratory muscles to help you breathe better for wellness or sports performance. The product has been sold in the United Kingdom for about three years, but is just being introduced in North America. Suggested retail, $70. The Power Breathe was voted one of the five top products in the Sports Product of the Year contest.

GoFit.net -- More than an accessory company and more than a dot-com training site, GoFit.net is a combination that is turning its focus to the specialty market. In addition, it announced a partnership with the Athlete's Performance training and product company and Mark Verstegen for his performance training. The partnership will create a new line of fitness and training products under the name of Go-Fit Sport.

Hoist Fitness -- A small box focused only on the company's Bodygear brand for sporting goods (Bodygear by Hoist). That included a showing of the new Rocketlok dumbbell packages that are drawing quite a bit of attention. Expected to be at retail in early spring, the Rocketlok packages come in a small snap-shut carrying case (or two in the case of the larger one) that hold a bar as well as plates that snap into place and lock together. The small set, aimed at sporting goods where it will make its retail debut at Dick's, is 24 pounds (retail $50). The larger set (100 pounds) will be branded Hoist and be sold at specialty for upward of $300. New is also an Olympic bench that slides up and back to decline, incline and flat positions and can also fold up for more compact storage.

Lamar Health, Fitness & Sport -- Taking a relatively last minute spot to be on location for a series of meetings, Lamar had its booth lined with the Universal-brand cardio and its own strength equipment. Its new Olympic bench also folded up for better utilization of space in the home.
 
Makoto -- Funny how no matter where the electronic arena game is, you can simply hear its distinctive tones when a player is in the ring whacking at the three towers. We've written about the delightful fitness aspects of a game that is also challenging and fun, with the disadvantage of a high commercial-type price tag. We're told to expect a down-sized retail version in a year.

Nautilus -- Nautilus focused on its Bowflex and Schwinn product in a small booth that was jammed with equipment, as well as herds of buyers. The product included not only the original Bowflex but its new Bowflex-branded equipment that includes treadmills, weights and strength-training equipment and a TreadClimber.

Polar -- The heart-rate monitor specialist probably had one of the few true introductions of new product. Among other things, its really first monitors sized more specifically for a smaller woman's wrist were being shown in the booth. The F series has four models that run from retails of $50 to $150, with the women's model, the F4, hitting the mid-range at $80. Even at that price, it includes all the basic features including button-free operation, average heart rate, full watch functions, water resistance to 30 meters, and zone heart rates but in a smaller size.

Spri Products -- Spri was showing off the debut of its partnership with John Abdo, inventor of the infomercial AB-Doer, and his Contour-Weights, which are soft and flexible tubes of weight that can be put around your waist, over your shoulders or held in your hands. Think of them as updated sand bags to add to weight-training. They come in mini sizes of 1 to 5 pounds and larger long tubes from 6 to 50 pounds. They are expected at retail in March. In addition, Spri announced its partnership with personal trainer Bob Greene, better known as Oprah's trainer. The company will introduce training programs based on Greene's books in packages that include DVD and accessories. The first will be a strength package that will retail for $25.

Tanita -- Famous for its body-fat scales, Tanita has gone a big step beyond with the introduction of its so-called InnerScan scale (three models from $90 to $120). Long story short, these monitors are cool, priced well, and could be a super motivator to just about any exerciser or any level. Yes, they tell a user body fat, body water and of course weight, but they also show muscle mass, daily caloric needs, metabolic age, bone mass (not density, mind you), visceral fat and give an overall "physique rating." In addition, a line under the Ironman brand (three models from $100 to $130) will give users base caloric needs based on basal metabolism, with the assumption that users are more advanced and can calculate needs based on varied athletic activity. We tried the InnerScan, with a bit of trepidation but found the readings seemingly accurate based on past measurements and personal knowledge. In fact, even one use was somewhat addictive. They will be available at retail in the spring and should be a great add-on or stand-alone sell.

York Worldwide
-- No, not York Barbell mind you but York Worldwide. Lots of changes at York, including new ownership and new executives. On top of that, the booth quietly unveiled its new higher-end treadmills and equipment that range from $600 all the way up to commercial-grade pieces for $6,000. More news to come out of York. Stay tuned.

Zipfizz -- Who doesn't need a little ZIP now and then? We can't really count this little tube of power than mixes into water as a sports drink since there are only 10 calories per 16- to 20-ounce serving (sports drinks are about energy in the form of calories). But this drink, once mixed, has a sound dose of potassium and a moderate dose of magnesium and sodium, making it an electrolyte supplement. But wait there's more in Zipfizz (www.zipfizz.com): 100 mg of caffeine, helping it to compete with the Red Bulls of the world at about $2 a pop. Its national launch will be this year.

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