HFB 2013: Accessories appeal to our inner, fitter child

The saving grace of fitness retail – accessories – aren’t slowing down and now they’re bringing some childhood fun to the mix.
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Nobody has fun like kids. Nobody.

Though your customers are adults, they might need to learn how to have fun like kids — and get fit at the same time.

When the economy tanked and customers couldn’t afford big home gyms anymore, they turned to accessories and haven’t turned back. According to our last fitness SNEWS Retail Survey results, more than 90 percent of retailers carry accessories and in 2011 they watched sales of any accessory having to do with functional training or CrossFit explode.

Manufacturers at last month’s Health and Fitness Business Expo brought some new offerings that appeal to both CrossFitters and lovers of child-like fun.

Like the functional playgrounds we wrote about that started to gain steam at IHRSA 2012, accessories took on a playful vibe at HFB, some of them taking us back to our days of bouncing around on kangaroo and pogo balls. Others, however, are appealing to hardcore CrossFit athletes.

Some of the coolest products we spotted on the show floor came from Hedstrom, parent company to Bosu. Though the company’s famed Bosu Ball ditched its usual blue color for a vibrant, eye-catching pink at HFB, making it more noticeable, the product that stole the spotlight was the Kamagon Ball (photo, right).

Kamagon

The product has the patented Hydro-Intertia technology and the ability to add up to 13 pounds of fluid resistance. The company claims it can wake up more muscle fibers than traditional, static weight training using the same amount of resistance. It’s a ball with two handles — which looks kind of like the kangaroo balls we bounced on as kids. Kamagon Balls come in two sizes, 14-inch (MSRP $100) and 9-inch (MSRP $50).

Hedstrom was on point with its offerings, also bringing the water-based strength piece called Surge (MSRP $180). The product, which looks like a big whistle, can hold up to 65 pounds of water and offers users a dynamic workout that improves balance, stability, coordination and muscular performance.

“One big selling point of these products is they’re all made in the USA,” said Shelia Showalter, Hedstrom’s national sales manager.

Speaking of balance, newcomer Modern Movement brought its M-Board 1.1 (MSRP $129, photo, left), Roll-Board (MSRP $59), M-Beam (MSRP $279) and corresponding balance stand and medicine balls to work on just that.

MBoard

The M-Board 1.1 in particular takes a user back to the days of pogo balls, except users don’t improve balance by jumping around. Rather, they do side-to-side motions that help improve balance and strengthen their legs and core. The separate $59 Balance Stand is for those not yet strong enough to balance on their own.

If anybody’s physical education was anything like ours, there was a pegboard bolted to the wall of the gym to climb up using pegs. The Power Press push-up board reminded us of that product.

The updated peg board lays on the floor and has peg handles that go in various positions to work different muscles. The different muscle groups are color-coded, so for example if you want to work your back, do your push-ups with the pegs in the yellow holes; for the triceps put the pegs in the green; and for the shoulders put them in the red peg holes.

PowerPress

Speaking of PE classes, we know we got timed a lot for running activities so why not take yourself back with a GoFit GoTimer interval timer (MSRP $20)? It’s a stopwatch that vibrates at the end of intervals and comes with an arm strap.

Spri is taking a hardcore route, appealing to the serious CrossFitter by repackaging and repurposing for fitness specialty retailers some of its classic pieces that had been sold through Spri. Products are in a line called Spri Cross Train and include Slam Balls (from 10-40 pounds, MSRPs $40-$105) and Pull-Up Assistors (MSRP $40).

“We want to service that market and outfit them,” said Patrick Miles, director of sales for Spri.

AccuFitness, which had been known for body-fat calipers and other measuring devices made its debut in the accessories category with its Anazao Fitness Gear line.

“We wanted to provide a line of gear that’s very useful and portable,” said Shawn Gillespie, president of AccuFitness. The line includes Multi-Myo Straight Bars (17-40 inches, MSRPs $34-$40) for functional fitness movement. Company officials say the appeal of these products are that they pack easily and go anywhere.

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