Of 28 products in the running for the annual Sports Product of the Year competition -- in which votes are taken and finalists announced at The Super Show -- eight are fitness-oriented, including the third consecutive year with Hoist Fitness as at least a semi-finalist.
Others include Gaiam, Keys Fitness, Oregon Scientific, Spri Products, Tanita, Wergout and Xvest. Other semi-finalists include footwear accessories, golf and team sports products and other sporting goods gear.
Last year, Hoist was a semi-finalist with its 5-position folding bench, and the company tied for top product in 2002 for its Quik Change Dumbbell System. In seven years of the competition, Hoist and the Chameleon Gym (2001) were the only two fitness products to win.
This year, Hoist will present its Rocketlok Dumbbell System, a weight set with interchangeable plates that twist and lock to allow multiple weights with one set.
Retailers, buyers and media attendees at The Super Show -- Jan. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla. -- will vote on the semi-finalists with the top 10 being announced at the show. Several hundred media then vote on the top product, with an announcement in the spring.
Other fitness-oriented products include:
>> Powerbreathe (Gaiam) -- A handheld air capacity trainer for runners, walkers and athletes. Â
>> Ironman 320t Treadmill (Ironman Fitness/Keys Fitness) -- A treadmill with a fan.
>> Talking Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor (Oregon Scientific) -- A monitor that also shows pulse.
>> Victor Personalized Sports-Training Technology (Spri Products) -- A package including an instructional CD and resistance equipment.
>> Innerscan Body Composition Monitor (Tanita) -- A scale that measures overall health, including weight, body fat, body water percentage, bone mass and muscle mass.
>> Wergout Fitback (Wergout Equipment) -- Three-section lumbar and cervical support pad that fits on benches or on the floor.
>> Xvest Weightvest Fitness Version (Xvest) -- Weighted vest with removable weights.
The first round traditionally includes advisory board members from SGMA's Sports Edge magazine, which helps operate the competition. To qualify for the competition, the product must not have been at retail before November 2004, it must be innovative as judged by the panel, and must be related to sports. Companies also pay $150 per product entered.
SNEWSÂ® View: We've seen the Rocketlok system from Hoist and agree that it's pretty innovative. The Wergout pad system, introduced at the Health & Fitness Business show, is also dandy indeed, as is the Victor product sold by Spri. We're however not too sure about the Keys treadmill being among the top 28 products of the year. It may be a decent treadmill, but, really â€¦ it's a treadmill and not the first with a fan. We'll be interested to see what a cadre of sporting goods dealers think the top 10 coolest of cool includes.