HFB 2013: Functional playgrounds for adults

Hybrid machines, which have both fixed-motion and functional-training aspects, are coming on strong, but functional products aren’t going anywhere.

The gyms that look more like playgrounds for adults continue to take the fitness show floor by storm.

At the 2013 Health and Fitness Expo in Las Vegas there was an array of functional training equipment on display, including cage-like gyms for group training classes, updated home and light-commercial products with smaller footprints and longer cables for wider range-of-motion exercises and more accessories.

Many stopped by Hoist to test out its Motion Cage Studio, a multi-station functional trainer. Of all the products, this one had a fun, actual playground vibe with its red color and vibrant-looking accessories. In addition to the staples like places to clip your TRX accessories and store your bars and other accessories, this product had a wall ball target in addition to a trampoline target for some added exercise fun.

The product is in response to the “CrossFit Craze and functional training systems,” said Jeremy Miller Director of Marketing for Hoist. One cool factor on this product was the swivel grips on the pulleys that make it easier on the wrists when doing the exercises. The product featured an extra-long cable length for range-of-motion workouts.

Serius Lifting Systems, a company owned by PowerBlock, showed its gym that has parts that could be mixed and matched to create several different configurations. Some of the parts include a flying pull-up bar, wall-ball target, dip stations and spotting arms, in addition to the standard posts and optional crossmembers.

“It makes you feel like it’s playground equipment for adults,” said Mattson Towley, project manager for SLS.

“You can use your own imagination when putting it together,” added Noah Funk, SLS’ director of sales. Plus it has a wall mounted unit option that could be for home users.


Torque Fitness launched its X-Rack Warrior Series for commercial and residential use that comes in three units: Wall Mount (photo, right), Arsenal and Rig. It can be configured to include a variety of accessories from rings to TRX bands. Like the others, it has an optional wall-ball target.

“It’s not only for CrossFit,” noted Tom Braumler, who does product development and marketing for Torque. Though the product was designed with CrossFit in mind, it doesn’t discriminate. “There are a ton of options.”

For example when multiple Rigs are constructed together for small group classes, everybody can do the same exercises. Generally on these types of products, small group classes have had to do something different from one another because of space constraints.

Light commercial and residential standard functional trainer gyms are still going strong.

BodyCraft is thought by some to have invented the category of hybrid trainers, but this time around touts its Elite Home Gym for functional users. The BodyCraft Elite has Adjustable Cable Arms for user-defined motion and an Active Balance press that mimics the benefit of barbell training by requiring the user to balance the press arm. It also has a smaller footprint for space-concerned consumers. Some of the hybrid machines we noted were interesting – like Inspire’s M3 – had a split arm on a fixed motion path.

SportsArt has a redesigned look with a new darker graphite color instead of the light gray we’ve grown accustomed to. It launches a commercial-grade, single weight stack functional trainer prototype for 2014 as part of its top-of-the-line S Series. It has a cable travel of 130 inches for those training for golfing or other sports that require a larger range of motion.

Tuff Stuff Fitness is in the process of revamping its entire line to focus on light commercial, but it made some updates to its current light commercial and residential model the SPT-6B Base Six-Pak Trainer. It has a smaller footprint now and can incorporate a bench, exercise ball or wheel chair for exercises, Mike Ryser, national sales and marketing manager said.

--Ana Trujillo