Companies seek to steal spotlight from elliptical with new cardio offerings at IHRSA

Cardio equipment was a big story at IHRSA, with several companies bringing “alternatives” to elliptical machines, including Octane’s new LateralX Trainer, TechnoGym’s Vario Trainer, Precor’s updated Adaptive Motion Trainer with Open Stride and Cybex’s updated Arc Trainer.

Though group exercise companies Zumba and Kangoo Jumps tried to steal the show with the loud, Latin-infused rhythms and pulsating club beats blaring from their booths, SNEWS found the real stars at IHRSA — revamped and brand-new cardio equipment.

As soon as one walked into the Los Angeles Convention Center, it was clear cardio would be a big story this year. Cybex took aim at ellipticals everywhere with its new Arc Trainer ad campaign, and lateral-movement trainers were all the rage on the trade-show floor. Plus, new motion trainers from Precor and TechnoGym battled it out for attention.

Indoor cycles, too, were popping up from what seemed like every company. Check back with SNEWS on Friday for that story.

Taking aim at ellipticals

Poor ellipticals. They sure got a beating in advertisements from Cybex at IHRSA — the ads said the Arc Trainer burns fat, while ellipticals burn time.

The revamped, updated Arc Trainer is quite the workout. Our SNEWS reporter hopped on for a mere seven minutes and found herself sweaty and out-of-breath, though not overly exerted.

Cybex claimed the Arc Trainer — of which there are two new commercial models, the 770AT and the 770A — burns calories while building strength and power. Users have the option to adjust their stride themselves, to a glide, stride or climb. There is a scaled-down consumer version of the Arc Trainer (MSRP $3,495) called the 360A.

Dr. Paul M. Juris, executive director of the Cybex Research Institute, said one of the most useful features of the commercial system is that it has a touch-screen operation console separate from the video system, whereas other machines integrate the two. The control console is a separate iPhone-sized screen below the video screen.

“With others, if the video system goes down, everything goes down,” Juris said. In this case, if the video system goes down, it doesn’t affect the machines touch-screen operation console. The upgraded Arc Trainer has a 220 strides-per-minute, and a 1,300-watt power capacity, whereas the older version has only 180 strides-per-minute and 900-watt power capacity.

Side-to-side to forefront

While other companies' advertisements and press information didn’t take a direct aim at ellipticals, they did bring lateral trainers to the show, touting their side-to-side training benefits over the front-to-back motion of current equipment.

While lateral trainers certainly aren’t new, and TechnoGym has had its lateral trainer, the Crossover, on the market for years, companies like Helix recently have reinvigorated the lateral-training space. Helix launched at IHRSA 2008, but this year the lateral-training spotlight shone on Octane’s LateralX.

The SNEWS team felt the workout on the LateralX on the inner and outer thighs, glutes and quads. Unlike with the other lateral trainers on the show floor, the LateralX offered users the ability to change the degree of lateral motion from narrow to wide, the narrower settings providing lower intensity. The LateralX moves both front-to-back and side-to-side in an elliptical motion so users can spice things up.

Five-year-old, Netherlands-based company Carver Fitness recently launched Carver Fitness USA to bring the Carver Pro I (MSRP $6,799) to the U.S. market. This Carver 3D lateral motion allows for more than 20 options including a speed skating-like workout.

It seems like all of the products, lateral or arc, are looking to be an alternative to ellipticals in gyms and homes, said Charles Hallford, president of Carver Fitness USA. 

Lateral trainers “give you an option,” Hallford said.

Pick your stride

But they’re not the only elliptical competition in town. Both Precor and TechnoGym held demonstrations of their new trainers, which simulate running. On both machines, users get all the benefits of a run with very little stress to the knees.

Precor’s newest version of its Adaptive Motion Trainer with Open Stride allows users to customize their step to feel like a run, climb or walk motion because they can adjust the length, height and steps per minute. Like the Cybex Arc Trainer, the Adaptive Motion Trainer seeks maximum caloric burn with a limited perceived exertion. The newest version of the AMT has an adjustable stride length that goes up to 36 inches. Previous models went only up to 27 inches.

TechnoGym’s new Vario product features the company’s standard touch screen technology with Internet capability (check back with SNEWS in a few days as Precor recently launched its Preva Net technology, which is similar and available as a console option on its machines). Users can either do a step motion, an elliptical motion or a “Vario movement” which is like running with less stress on the knees.

--Ana Trujillo