HFB 2012: Newest strength equipment utilizes body weight

The latest thing in strength equipment is functional trainers that use your customer’s own body weight.
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Who doesn’t like a Swiss army knife? It can do everything from opening cans to gutting fish (if that’s your thing).

We’ve been seeing functional trainers and some strength equipment that could be the Swiss Army knives of the fitness world. At IHRSA, it seemed there was a functional trainer everywhere you turned, and while it was on a smaller scale at the Health and Fitness Business Expo in Las Vegas, functional trainers were still all the rage.

Plus, some companies offered revamped versions of their most popular strength equipment and interchangeable dumbbells.

Functional play time and at-home fitness kits

As we noticed at IHRSA, these functional training stations seem to pay homage to our playground days with their monkey bars and other types of back-to-basics fitness we used to know as recess activities.

At HFB, Torque Fitness brought its X-Lab, a commercial functional training system that is ideal for personal trainers who do P90X or Insanity with their clients. Even though it’s a commercial unit, Torque’s Jerry Dettinger said the company’s retailers generally assemble one and stock it with all the accessories and functional training products that they can sell to the customers.

Lifecore Fitness threw its hat into the functional fitness ring with the Fit Cage (MSRP $2,999), a functional and suspension training system that has spots for a boxing bag, rubber tubing, suspension-training straps and a rowing bar, among many other accessories. Lifecore Fitness President Roger Bates said the functional training system is made for light commercial use in hotels or clubs where it can be used for group training.

“The whole family can do it,” Bates said, adding that one person stopped by the Lifecore booth and said he could see himself installing a Fit Cage in his backyard.

On a smaller (and more affordable) scale, was the Variable Height Platform Trainer (MSRP $400), which offers 10 products in one for your customer, from a massaging stick to a dip rack to a six-level plyo-box to a utility bench and an ab-wheel. The unit folds up to fit into a closet or in a corner of a fitness club classroom. The units are distributed by World Sales Alliance, Inc.

Over at Teeter Hang-ups, the focus was on the ThunderBell Complete Training Program (MSRP $99). The equipment is the ThunderBell weight, which has seven different handgrips that make it so it can be used as a dumbbell, barbell, kettle bell, medicine ball and free weights.

The ThunderBell comes with three DVDs that feature more than 10, 45-minute workouts. The DVDs are separated into Introduction, Advanced and Warrior workouts. The training system also includes a downloadable 90-day fitness calendar and five-phase eating guide.

Jeremy Levine, the fitness trainer who developed the U.S. Navy SEALs Human Performance Program, developed the ThunderBell system.

Diane Olson of Teeter said the ThunderBell is ideal for those customers who don’t feel comfortable with P90X or other intense at-home workouts. Plus, she said, it’s very compact and easy to take with you on business trips.

Sticking to basics, reducing price points

Over at the Troy booth, Ken Mohle was showing off the company's new interlocking Olympic bumper plates that come in 10, 15 and 25 kilos.

Mohle explained to SNEWS that the interlocking feature is helpful because the plates don’t spin when users are bench pressing their weights, leading them to achieve better balance during their strength workout.

RocketLok revamped what SNEWS once called “sexy dumbbells.” Though it’s the same weight as the old dumbbell, it’s more compact and in coated black steel. The product retails for $399 for a 100-pound set.

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“Ultimately the product is much tighter,” said David Kemble. Plus the coated black steel “is a little more masculine.”

For TuffStuff Fitness, the HFB show was a way to showcase some of its products it's added, or are considering adding, new features to, said Michael Ryser, sales manager for the company.

The TuffStuff HTX-2000 (MSRP $4,295) two-stack gym for home and light commercial use is one of those products. Ryser said the company is looking to add an integrated 15” touch-screen monitor showing more than 40 different exercises.

Torque Fitness decided to take its all the functions of its popular TQ5 and create the H2.

“What we did was we kept the basic function and brought the price point down,” said Torque’s Jerry Dettinger. The TQ5 retailed at $2,999, but the new H2 retails at $1,999.

Over at Inspire, the company displayed its new functional trainer and Smith machine, which allows users to utilize the two weight stacks versus a weight bar as in normal Smith machines. The unit, called the FT2 (MSRP $3,995) comes with all the accessories and attachments and its two weight stacks allow users to lift up to 450 pounds.

Plus, said Inspire’s Todd Schiessle, the company brought its new Body Lift home gym (MSRP $1,395). What makes this versatile piece interesting is that it doesn’t have a weight stack, rather it utilizes the users body weight.

Powertec didn’t bring too much in the way of new equipment, only its new leg press (MSRP $955), but look out for a mention of the company in our upcoming technology story.

Saying ‘thank you’

PowerBlock did come to the show with a few new things, including a mini version of it’s signature PowerBlock dumbbells and storage station for their desks or stores as a thank you for the company’s 20th anniversary.

“We’re really here to thank everybody for 20 years,” said PowerBlock’s Lance Goodemann. The company owes its longevity to “A lot of luck and a lot of help from other people … Better products than ours have failed.”

Because of the increased interest in CrossFit and P90X and other programs that can be done in the home, PowerBlock brought its Ez Curl Bar (MSRP $149) that will retrofit with the past PowerBlock Urethane and Classic models; and its PowerStation storage system that stores PowerBlock products and other accessories. The PowerBlock PowerStation also has an optional attachment for a flatscreen TV.

--Ana Trujillo

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