Club Industry ’11: Trends and products from vertical climbing to suspension and more

Although the chatter in the aisles was about how little there was to see (or was new) at the Club Industry show, there were indeed trends on the show floor. SNEWS takes a look at a few product highlights.

Although SNEWS pointed out in its first story about Club Industry on Oct. 19 that the show was continuing to shrink, that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few highlights of note among products.

To read more about the attendance and exhibitor numbers, as well as about the event’s intended move to Las Vegas in 2012, click here to read our Oct. 19, 2011 story.

SNEWS still found a few ideas and trends to take home and ponder – even though the no-show list wasn’t short among the 136 exhibitors there. Matrix Fitness, Precor and Life Fitness still had the front row, while others were glaring in their lack of attendance: Cybex, FreeMotion Fitness, Hoist, Nautilus (Med-Fit), Total Gym, SportsArt and True Fitness, of the larger companies.

Anything new?

Nevertheless, despite the talk of “nothing new,” there were a few products and categories on the floor to check out – and some were indeed new.

The huge rolling-stair climbing equipment came out in force with the expiration earlier this year on the patent behind the original StairMaster ClimbMill (originally known as the Gauntlet for those old-timers. See photo, right). In addition to StairMaster, the pieces were on the floor from Matrix, which had a prototype in a backroom at the March 2011 IHRSA show, and Star Trac, which still had a prototype in its booth to enable feedback and final tweaks for an early 2012 release.

For most companies, the emphasis has been on improved maintenance and user safety in their development of the first-ever competitors for StairMaster. Although an extremely popular albeit niche piece, the ClimbMill (Gauntlet) had and still has a huge following, especially among military and firefighters. Matrix for example has little tracks down each side of the slightly narrower rotating stairs to allow the normally heavy sweat run-off to be caught and fed off the machine. In most cases, step depth has been extended to keep users from bumping or catching toes. Chains are now covered, and the gears and motor behind the side cover come equipped with an auto-on LED light. In the end, the biggest difference, said Jeff Dilts of Star Trac, among the new-comers will be the console and its look and programs.

Sans TRX by Fitness Anywhere on the floor, suspension training gear – i.e. straps hanging overhead to allow users to leverage their own bodyweight to train against gravity – remained a hot item with equipment on-show from Lifeline (, PurMotion (, and SBT ( Each has its own calling card with varied straps, handles and attachment systems, as well as education. SBT for example claims its footholds are more secure (see photo, left) with a heel wrap to keep the foot held in well even during dynamic moves.

MyZone, which launched as a company at IHRSA but still only talked about what it was going to do by using heart rate to make movement measurable (Click here for a July 1, 2011, SNEWS story on MyZone), officially launched its product. According to COO MIke Leveque, it will be shipping in the next few weeks and has 75 clubs lined up on the waiting list for a product that allows a club to tap into consumers who may not ever use the club (

Nexersys by TAG Fitness ( gathered a crowd around its small booth with its computerized strike training piece that combines the best of exergaming with MMA training that can be pretty hard core. TAG fitness (by industry long-timers Tim Brennan, Tim Bowen and Tim Green) are the national distributors for the North American commercial market for the newly launched club product.

According to inventor Terry Jones, who is not an MMA competitor, he came up with the idea because he likes both a mind and body focus in exercise, plus “I get to hit something,” he said. “This is fun.”

The computer acts as a trainer and actually remembers what a user did (and how they did it) then builds on that in training as they progress. “This machine knows who you are,” he said, “and what you’ve done.” With three of its own patents pending, the Nexersys could be a big hit (no pun intended) among users due to the interactive aspect that incorporates both training and fitness.

In addition to a newly redesigned and sleeker Ascent Trainer, Matrix ( also launched its MyRide, which is an add-on screen and software system for its bikes that not only can train you how to ride, but also how to build a workout or act as a personal trainer. Using the company’s VirtualActive partner, the screen has an amazing color and resolution that will draw in the most jaded user.

Eye-catching core-training items were not to be missed – and perhaps were the real hits with many equipment manufacturers seemingly less willing to launch big pieces in lingering economic-pinching times. Core-Tex, which launched at IHRSA, showed its trainer that looks like a been-there-done-that balance piece, but upon closer inspection is far from it. The Core-Tex piece (MSRP $595, photo, right) goes “beyond balance training,” according to its slogan, and emphasizes continued movement using acceleration and deceleration for functional training (

Vicore Fitness (click here for a July 15, 2011, SNEWS story and here for a SNEWS TV program) showed its weight benches and seats topped with stability-ball-like tops at the club show after debuting for retail at the Health & Fitness Business show. But it had another twist: Vicore’s trend-tapping addition was the applique of a QR code to a piece’s leg. Scan the code – for example as a club user unfamiliar with what to do – and up pops a menu of 10-second videos listed by body part you can then watch and emulate.

Of course, most entertaining is standing back and watching people walk by the Vicore booth, take a look, double-take, stop, furrow a questioning brow, take a couple of hesitating steps toward the piece, reach out at an arm’s length and just kind of touch the top, before recoiling to see what will happen, before they step over and actually sit down on one of the pieces (

Kamogon Fitness offered an alternative to medicine balls – or any kind of ball, for that matter. Its 14-inch diameter balls of a thick rubber have two handles and can be filled with the desired amount of water to create a weight that is about 10 to 50 pounds (MSRP $139.95). Plus the moving water inside creates a “dynamic instability,” while moving it around you (

Now that all the working out is done, Moji ( introduced its massage recovery tools – a palm-sized device with steel roller balls of varied sizes for an individualized massage (MSRP $29.95) and a bar that allows a two-handed grip for massaging any body part with the inset roller balls (MSRP $59.95).


Club Industry 2012 ( is set for Oct. 10-12 in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

--Therese Iknoian



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