Health & Fitness Business ’11: Vibration trainers still strong, plus products to get fit outdoors and ease sore muscles

The Health & Fitness Business Show in Las Vegas Sept. 14-16 proved vibration trainers are still popular after all these years. More companies joined in the vibration-training craze. Plus, a combination scooter, bicycle and stepper and a few “after-care” options all hit the trade show floor this year.
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The Health & Fitness Business Show in Las Vegas Sept. 14-16 proved vibration trainers are still popular after all these years. More companies joined in the vibration-training craze. Plus, a combination scooter, bicycle and stepper and a few “after-care” options all hit the trade show floor this year.

SNEWS continues its post Health & Fitness Business Show 2011 coverage with a look at the vibration trainers, massagers and other products at the show. For our previous recap on strength equipment at the show click here. For our recap on new cardio equipment, click here.

Strength and cardio equipment weren’t the only players at the Health & Fitness Business Show in Las Vegas Sept. 14-16, 2011. Vibration training is still shaking it up, plus we found products many exercise enthusiasts may – or could – use, including gear to ease sore or strained muscles.

Still shakin’ things up

Vibration technology is nearly mainstream these days, but some companies at HFB are cooking up new ways to spice up the technology, much of it geared toward helping users know what to do when the shakin’ starts. Education has been a huge missing link for many players, as SNEWS noted in a trends report about the segment (click here to see that Nov. 2, 2010, report).

BH North America’s John Kipper told us at the HFB show that the move toward instruction on vibration products is positive because, indeed, people don’t know how to use the product on their own.

“The benefits of vibration itself are not intuitive so you could either do the research and read about the benefits, but if you try it and don't know what you're doing you're not going to get very far," Kipper said. "If you try it and the machine is showing you what to do then you really understand."

Vibration veteran Power Plate introduced the My7 (MSRP $7,999, photo, right) to the HFB retail audience, after a debut to its commercial customers at the IHRSA show. With an embedded touch screen, the product can store up to 50 user profiles and has various programs named so customers know exactly what they do: “Feel Better,” “Look Better,” or “Play Better.” Under the “Feel Better” category are different ways to massage legs or feet; under the “Look Better” category are programs for different strength exercises; and under the “Play Better” category are exercises that help a user train for specific sports.

DKN Technology’s XG10 Pro unit hits the market in January; although Eddie Diaz, president of sales, said it’s a commercial model, its MSRP of $4,495 might make it a bit more affordable to customers who want to purchase it for the home. The XG10 Pro has the ability to provide up to 10 minutes of continuous vibration anywhere from 20 to 50 hertz (the higher of which could be used more for massage than exercise, Diaz said). The unit is updated to include 11 pre-programs versus the old model, which has only five.

BH North America also released its new commercial vibration product, the LK510 to add to its other two consumer models. The LK510 is a basic model, said BH North America’s chief operating officer John Kipper, that also has sport specific programs, massage programs and stretching or low-impact programs. It also features a screen (not a touch screen) with an avatar to lead a user through the exercises.

PowerVibe introduced the next generation of its Zen Pro vibration unit (projected MSRP $2,795), which will be released November 2012. It will contain everything the old Zen Pro had (including the ability to design your own workout) but with one added perk – a touch-screen to show users how to do exercises. PowerVibe was one of the few companies to offer both pivotal and vertical vibration, the latter of which was much more common on the trade show floor.

Though the decade old Canadian company DZT Fitness was new to HFB this year, its product is not new in the Canadian fitness market. The company is looking to break into the U.S. specialty retail market with its revamped V700 light commercial model (MSRP $1,799). The unit is now a sleek black and has wheels, versus the older version that was silver and had no wheels.

SNEWS has been following the vibration trend since it was first introduced to the U.S. fitness market in 2004, including this magazine story in Summer 2006, which explains the hertz means, and this follow-up piece on the science available at that time. Additional 2008 research was summarized in this Health Notes column. So if you want to know more, dive into our archives.

Get fit outside

Holding HFB concurrently with Interbike is bound to introduce products for use in both markets. And this show didn’t disappoint. Wingflyer offers its combination scooter, bicycle and stepper designed for all ages.


All models have the ability to fold down for easy storage and transport. The Z100 (MSRP $249), has a weight capacity of 160 pounds, foam handle grips and a hand-controlled rear brake. The Z150 (MSRP $329, photo, left) has rubber grip handles, rear disc brake system and a weight capacity of 220 pounds. Wingflyer Extreme (MSRP $289) has a reinforced BMX handlebar (which swivels 360 degrees), hand-contolled rear band brake and a weight capacity of 180 pounds. The Z600 (MSRP $499) has a Shimano six-speed shifter and six-speed derailleur, and an adjustable stem that raises the handlebars to two different heights.

With varying degrees of success, other companies have tried similar products in the fitness market in the past such as the Elliptigo, Street Stepper and the Randy Ross Street Strider, the last of which premiered at HFB in 2008. Click here to read the story about the Street Strider. Also check out a SNEWS story including the Elliptigo here.

Products to keep muscles healthy

Whether it be massage, taping, braces or inversion, those who exercise sometimes need what a few have called “after-care,” i.e. stuff to ease or aid sore or strained muscles. Teeter’s inversion tables aren’t newcomers to the segment, for example. But others were.

Bob Harper and GoFit together launched a few massage products, including the Bob Harper Massage Bar and the Bob Harper Massage Roller. The companies say the lightweight Massage Bar (MSRP $24.99) increases circulation, flexibility and speed while decreasing stiffness and muscle soreness. The ergonomic handles remain stationary while the rest rolls on a ball bearing system.

The Bob Harper Massage Roller (MSRP $39.99) is 18-inches wide and six inches in diameter Made from closed-cell foam, it is soft and comfortable with an open-ended design, which allows the product to be used for core exercises as well.

Thumper Massager attended the show with its active back supports released in spring 2011 to complement its line of professional body massagers that it showed at HFB in 2009. Both the Flexor Pro (MSRP $109) and the Companion (MSRP $49) have the company’s True-Fit positioning that allows users to customize fit by deflating or inflating an inflatable air chamber with a small hand pump. The Companion can go along on airplanes, to the office or even the gym.

Sports medicine also made its way into HFB this year. Both Mueller Sports Medicine and Rocktape touted products to help fitness fanatics heal or sooth injured or sore muscles.

A late addition to the show, Rocktape had its new product, Rocktape H20, an kinesiology tape designed for water sports athletes. Rocktape H20 (MSRP $20) includes the company’s active recovery technology, which claims to provide immediate relief to muscles and injuries. Rocktape also had its regular kinesiology tape (photo, right), not for use in water, in various bright colors – SNEWS sported red taping up the leg and got plenty of stares -- and its Rocksauce (MSRP $29.95), a pain relieving gel designed for use with Rocktape.

Not the usual player at HFB – and plastered far back against the rear drape as a latecomer – Rocktape said it nevertheless had a great show with lots of interest from both bike and fitness retailers. So much so that, contrary to show guidelines, the company packed up a few empty boxes after selling off all its samples and vacated by mid-day the last day. 

Luckily SNEWS got its blue argyle sample early.

--Ana Trujillo