HFB 2012: Cardio moves in new direction, makes a splash

The Health & Fitness Business Expo brought us equipment we saw for the first time at IHRSA in March, plus some brand-new items from Landice that had our arms spinning, plus a debut from FitWet made a splash. Literally.
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Treadmills and ellipticals are still a hot commodity in the fitness industry, sparking innovation in the category as companies try and differentiate their products, including developing new lines that take the traditional front-to-back elliptical motion and move it laterally.

Helix came onto the scene a few years back and Lenny Snyderman brought to HFB his new, beefier Helix commercial model (MSRP $2,495), which he said is a result of requests from retailers.

Octane brought for the first time to HFB its LateralX (photo, right), which debuted at IHRSA back in March. The unit offers both a vertical elliptical stepping motion and a side-to-side motion that adjusts electronically, providing the user with a multifaceted workout. It includes 30 different resistance levels and several

Landice decided to take the upper body in a different direction with its new elliptical the CX8 (MSRP $3,695), which in addition to having three different feels for the lower body (including walking and hiking), the upper body is engaged with its variable motion handlebars, which essentially mimic the motion you made when you were a kid pretend driving with a play steering wheel.

Making a splash

Richard Vance, sales representative for Jet Fitness, which manufacturers FitWet excercise equipment, said the company decided to attend HFB to gauge what types of businesses were interested in its products.Maybe it was the half-naked staff or the flashy, big white booth near the InterBike Café, but FitWet’s booth always seemed to be packed with people.

The products deliver a new concept to the United States, Vance said. Though used in Europe for years, the equipment that combines stationary cycling, water resistance and jets, among other things, will make its first foray into the United States, Vance said.

Treadmills and ellipticals still got it

Diamondback Fitness was back at HFB as usual, but this was its first year under the leadership of Lifecore, which licensed the brand back in early 2012. This year, said Lifecore Fitness Owner Roger Bates, Diamondback is exploring new territory.

“Diamondback is known for its bicycle business but we wanted to branch out with treadmills to complete the line,” Bates said. The two new Diamondback treadmills, 910 Light Industry (MSRP $2,999) and the 910 Home (MSRP 1,999) both have iPad docking and charging capabilities.

Beth Norviel, True’s director of marketing, said the company is showcasing two new elliptical machines, the ES700 and the ES900 (MSRPs TBD, photo of ES900 right). Both have a smaller footprint than previous machines, multigrip handles with thumb switches and a lower step-up height. Plus, they feature adjustable strides from 16 to 27 inches, a True-patented core-drive system with patented side steps, locking elliptical footpads for increased safety and nine preset workouts. One of the big differences is the ES900 has rotating and adjustable height handles and aluminum side steps.

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A lot of companies are revamping the look of their lines and the biggest revamp is Vision Fitness, which not only redesigned its entire line, but its logo as well.

Some of the new treadmills in the line include the TF40, T40 (photo, left) and T80. The TF40 is the one SNEWS was most excited about. The sturdy model not only offers a 3 horsepower motor but it folds. Plus, if some of your customers who might not be so strong are a bit worried about fold-up treadmills, this one has a hydraulic “drop assist” system that doesn’t let it slam down on the ground in the event of an unfolding mishap.

FMI Fitness brought a new light commercial treadmill that has a new look, with a smaller screen, MP3 player hook-up and buttons on the side.

Though the kids’ line the company offered last year is unchanged this year, Ed Banasky, FMI director, said there’s going to be a kids' stepper coming out in March 2013.

A growing trend among treadmills, thanks to the threat of how dangerous sitting is to your health, is treadmills with desks or the capacity to hold a laptop on them.

LifeSpan brought its treadmill desk model, the DT-5, which fits an entire desktop monitor, keyboard and telephone atop the desk. Plus the unit’s control panel give users easy access to the control buttons and a good view of the LED display so looking at workout stats won’t take away from work. Plus, the unit has a USB charging port and Bluetooth capabilities.

3G Cardio (owned by Arizona-based retailer AtHome Fitness) brought its beefy fold-up treadmill, the 80i (MSRP $2,099, MAP $1,499), which has a 350-pound capacity and folds down to just 9 inches in height making it easily storable underneath a bed. The display folds down to accommodate a laptop so people can easily work while walking, though the treadmill is sturdy enough for a run.

When the display isn’t folded down, the treadmill’s speed can be adjusted by a reel stat speed control that isn’t as sensitive as standard reel stats. The piece also has a 3 horsepower motor and a 15 percent maximum incline. It has built-in speakers and an MP3 input.

Body-Solid introduced its Endurance T50 walking treadmill for senior citizens and those people who are doing some rehabilitation. The back-to-basics treadmill has a big, bright display for anybody who might have any vision problems. It also has a capacity to hold up to 300 pounds.

Climb on

Admit it: One of the only reasons some of us have a gym membership is to have constant access to a StepMill, but StairMaster might have made it so we can cancel that membership.

The company released its residential StepMill 3 (MSRP $3,499, MAP $2,999), which provides the same grueling workout as the original StepMills and the recently released commercial StepMill 5 but on a more compact package.

Ken Kruebbe, director of product management, said it’s everything StepMill addicts love like a built in reading rack, heart rate contact sensors, padded handrails and a water bottle holder. But unlike its bulkier commercial counterparts the StepMill 3 has front transport wheels, a six-inch step-up height and an automatic safety sensor in the back incase a your customer’s cat, small dog or child decides to explore under there while they’re working out.

“It has the same basic feel and programming,” Kruebbe explained.

SNEWS broke out bikes and rowers from this category into a story of their own, so look out for that story next week, along with more articles on accessories, new iPad technology and compatibility and strength products coming up.

--Ana Trujillo

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