More than 1,000 products in six categories were nominated and tested for the second-annual Health magazine "Best of Fitness" awards, much coveted because of a magazine audience that could reach 6.5 million influential, higher-income fitness enthusiasts. Â
In the fitness equipment division, SportsArt Fitness walked away with three of nine awards, and Horizon Fitness nailed down two, while single winners included Life Fitness, Hoist, PaceMaster and Octane.
â€œWe are incredibly honored to be recognized by a publication as prestigious as Health," Scott Logan, director of marketing for SportsArt, told SNEWSÂ®. "Winning three awards is amazing but, beyond that, it really validates our company-wide philosophy of building innovative products. Thanks to Health for helping educate the public about high-quality fitness equipment and thanks to our engineers and design team for bringing these terrific products to market.â€
SportsArt won for its C51r and C53r recumbent bikes in categories for "Under $1,500" and "Over $1,500," as well as "Most Innovative" for its Xtrainer. Horizon took the awards for its EX-44 Smoothstride elliptical for "Under $1,500" and for its PST 6 treadmill for "Under $1,500." In other cardio equipment categories, PaceMaster won for best "Over $1,500" treadmill for its Platinum Pro, and Octane won for best elliptical for its Q45e for "Over $1,500."
In two awards for weight systems, Life Fitness was awarded top prize for its Parabody GS1 for "Under $1,000," while Hoist was named best for "Over $1,000" for its V2 Multi Gym.
The January/February awards issue is scheduled to appear on newsstands Jan. 3, 2006, and a summary of the awards should also appear on the magazine's website at www.health.com.
In the award's first year last year, there was only one division for an equipment category, pitting low-priced and higher-priced items against each other. The magazine editors realized that needed to be changed and added two price categories this year for treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and weight systems, upping total awards from five to nine. It could be that price division that allowed Horizon to run off with two categories, when last year it was left out of the money. (Click here to see our 2004 story.)
"To be recognized by Health Magazine â€” as not only offering the best treadmill under $1,500 but also the best elliptical under $1,500 â€” truly validates our commitment to providing exceptional quality and performance at an affordable price," said Bill Sotis, Horizon's vice president of product and marketing. "Since we introduced Horizon Fitness products to the market, our goal has always been to develop high-quality, performance-based fitness equipment at prices that are affordable for the average consumer."
Companies both nominate themselves and are selected by a panel of six judges, one overseeing each division, which included not only equipment, but also apparel, fuel, gear, video/DVD, and footwear. Each has multiple sub-categories and most have an award for "most innovative." The awards skew toward the needs of its readers, a Health magazine spokeswoman told SNEWSÂ®, which are women who are more athletic or more fitness-inclined, age 25-54 (with core readers being 30-45), affluent (average household income is about $68,000) and well-educated, with an even split between married with children or single. More than 90 percent of the magazine's readers are subscribers.
Overseeing the fitness equipment award was Lynn Allen, president of Heartland Fitness in Ames, Iowa, who is an advisor to the SGMA.
Of the remaining 24 product winners, top picks in the gear category were: pedometer, Omron Healthcare Digital Premium Pedometer HJ-112; heart rate monitor, Suunto t6; bag, Overland Equipment Pro-Sport; and hydration System, Adidas by Stella McCartney Rehydration Bag. In the footwear category, winners were: running, Avia A2230 Avi-Lite; walking, Ryka N-Gage Walk; cross Training, New Balance 715; trail Running/walking,Â Asics Gel-Trail Attack II; and most Innovative, Teva X-1.
In the fuel category, winners were: bar, Snickers Marathon Energy Bar in Double Chocolate Nut; gel, Clif Shot Bloks/Lemon-Lime; and beverage, Gatorade Endurance Formula. In the apparel category, winners were: jacket, Illuminite Aspira Soft Shell; top, Lululemon Womans Singlet Tech; socks, Asics Hera Low Cut; bra/bra Top, Isis Scoop Back Cami; shorts, Brooks Epiphany Stretch Short; pants, Dominator Spirit Pant; and most innovative, Sugoi Wired Long Sleeve Training Top. Video/DVD winners were: cardio, Dance Off the Inchesâ€”Calorie Blasting Party! With Juliane Arney; Pilates, Rael Pilates, System 7/17 or 27; yoga, Yoga Shakti by Shiva Rea; strength, 10 Minute Solution Kickbox Bootcamp with Keli Roberts; and most innovative, Kari Anderson Reach.
Winners will be allowed to use a "Best of Fitness Awards" seal from Health magazine.
SNEWSÂ® View: As always, any award can be called into question, especially when they are basically selected by one person (with input and advice from other staffers, we have been told). Nevertheless, the magazine makes no claims about being technical in its judging; it simply is choosing equipment that seems to fit the bill in different categories, with a slight bias toward items its readers would like. Knowing the magazine and its editorial staff, we can vouch for its solidity and fairness. In addition, the kind of well-heeled national audience of this magazine can only mean good exposure for the industry as a whole and, of course, for these brands in particular. Since most of these are found at specialty, it's now time for the specialty shops to do their best to educate and sell â€“ and to keep a customer who could become a very long-time patron.Â