HFB 2013: The glute-ham machine is back

Retail and light commercial equipment manufacturers see an opportunity to capture part of the CrossFit market with an old-school piece of equipment.

Glute-ham developer machines are nothing new. They became popular in the 1970s after being featured in an article in Strength and Health about Russian weight lifters working the two muscle groups with a pommel horse set in front of wooden stall bars.

But they’re back.

At the 2013 Health and Fitness Business Expo in Las Vegas, SNEWS noted the next-generation of glute-ham equipment creeping into the booths of brands large and small, and while some products aren’t brand new, the fact that they’re being taken out of storage and displayed for buyers indicates a demand for the products.

One new prototype on the show floor was from Tuff Stuff, which debuted its CGH-450 Glute Ham machine (MSRP $999).

“This is more for the traditional strength trainer,” said Mike Ryser, Tuff Stuff’s national sales and marketing manager. The introduction is part of the company’s push to place greater focus on the light commercial business.

“Retail has been off and we’ve been doing well in the light commercial vertical market. That’s where specialty is going,” Ryser said. “We’re finding ways to go out into schools, hotels, fitness studios and CrossFit boxes.”

Glute-ham strengtheners are proving to be a popular CrossFit product. Boxes generally use glute-ham developers like those from Apollo athletics that aren’t stationary machines, rather they are mobile “partner” units that look like those single-person, fold out futons. But the stationary models, like from Rouge Fitness, are gaining popularity as well.

Apollo Athletics’ General Manager Matthew Losciale said no fitness equipment or accessory is ever new, really, it just experiences resurgence. Glute-ham developers have been experiencing such a resurgence that Losciale said he didn’t even have a sample of its Partner Glute Ham Developer (photo, right) to bring at the show ... he sold it.

Appolo Athletics gHam

CrossFit, he noted, is the reason for the resurgence. Even CrossFit champions like Rich Froning Jr. have the products in home gyms – he has two glute-ham developers – and who doesn’t want to look like Rich Froning Jr., who was recently featured on the cover of The Box Magazine, a CrossFit specific publication.

Losciale said he goes to the Reebok CrossFit Games to see what products the athletes are using so he knows what customers will soon want for their home gyms. As a result, Apollo offers two glute-ham developers, one commercial and one light commercial.


Steelflex, under the FMI America Fitness Equipment banner, also has a glute-ham machine as part of its new push to offer high-quality CrossFit products within its APE line.

“Out industry, since March, has been increasing sales of CrossFit products,” explained Ed Banasky, vice-president of FMI. CrossFit “opens up the market and dealers have got to step out and be brave.”

--Ana Trujillo