IHRSA 2013: Accessories attempt to satisfy CrossFit craze

The CrossFit craze is stronger than ever, and SNEWS is spotting new accessories that retailers can stock for enthusiastic CrossFitters to use at home — or even for small CrossFit gyms they buy from you.
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CrossFit isn’t going away anytime soon.

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So retailers might as well get used to it and stock up on the accessories CrossFitters want to put in their homes for those times when they can’t make it to the gym.

Judging from what manufacturers at IHRSA had to offer, there are plenty of options out there — from updated ropes with aluminum handles to a slew of accessories gyms could put in their functional training cages.

Harbinger unleashed its HumanX line, built specifically for people to use with functional training exercises and CrossFit. One of SNEWS' favorite pieces was the X2 Speed Rope, an ultra thin jump rope coated with a soft material to prevent injuries when customers accidentally hit their shins or calves with the rope. The rope has a patent-pending brass spin mechanism that ensures a smooth swing.

Harbinger’s director of marketing, Chanin Cook, said functional training is a category that is going to continue to grow because people see its usefulness in helping them improve strength, speed, stability and endurance. Plus it’s something everybody – from the deconditioned to the serious CrossFit athletes – can do.

One thing every cage-type functional training product at IHRSA needed was cables and straps. Harbinger brings its PowerAmp XXX FlexFast Cables.

TRX, the go-to strap manufacturer for a lot of the products, didn’t bring anything new to IHRSA this year for retailers, but products it has previously released were updated with new educational components. For example, TRX's Premier: Team Blocks include a two-level educational course for facilities that incorporates a total of 12 hours of education and ongoing support.

“We want to be able to help clubs keep the members they have and attract new members,” said Randy Hetrick, TRX’s founder.

Spri has a new take on straps that will help exercisers properly grip the strap, leading to proper workouts for muscles beyond the user's arm.

Robert Sherman, master trainer for Spri, said that when the handle on a strap is too small, people grip it too hard instinctively, leading to overworking of the arm muscles and less incorporation of other muscles in the chest, shoulders and back.

“The whole point of suspension training is it’s not about relying on the back — you want to rely on your chest, shoulder and back muscles,” Sherman explained.

The bigger handle on the suspension strap is 2.5 inches. The new suspension straps are made from the same material as seatbelts, making them ultra durable, said Adam Zwyer, director of marketing for Spri.

“It’s nice and hefty,” Zwyer said as he demonstrated the product. Plus, the high-grade aluminum handles are a new feature on other items, such as the ropes for rope training the company launched.

Other products from Spri include Kettle Balls, which are like kettle bells — but the bottoms are like medicine balls rather than weights. That makes them attractive to people who are intimidated by kettlebells, or small facilities that don’t want floor damage from kettlebells.

“It just looks friendlier,” Zwyer said.

Pivotal 5, which offers a variety of accessories, plays off the “where do I get one,” phenomenon that happens when people take group classes. While the company is in stores like Sports Authority, it is in a few specialty fitness retailers in California and Craig Bradley, the company’s vice president of sales, said he hopes to get into more doors.

Recently Pivotal 5 launched a Kettleworx instructional DVD, which accompanies its Kettlebells and is great for any market with gyms that have Kettleworx classes, one of our favorite workouts of the show.

--Ana Trujillo

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