Some people go to Las Vegas to hit the slots and place March Madness bets. We went to Vegas and spent all our time exercising on the fitness industry's latest and greatest equipment.
IHRSA 2013 proved that the functional fitness training trend isn’t going away; in fact, it’s becoming more popular. Companies like Paramount, Hoist Fitness and Cybex are releasing new functional training stations and cages, just a year after Life Fitness unleashed its functional trainer.
Another trend gaining steam is advanced console technology that allows users to watch TV, track workouts and virtually run through gorgeous landscapes all over the world. Screens are getting bigger, tracking capabilities are getting more streamlined (customers can use the same account on multiple machines, whatever the manufacturer) and user experience is getting more interactive.
Plus, there's an increased focus on developing products that can be adapted so everyone from the elite athlete to the elite athlete’s frail grandmother can use it.
But we’ll update you on those trends throughout next week, with specific drill-downs on cardio, strength and accessories. Right now, we’re giving you a list of what we thought were some of the top products and workouts at the show.
1. The Sproing
CEO Paul Toback is touting his creation as the “reinvention of the treadmill.” It’s not technically a treadmill — the platform doesn’t move and it’s not intended to replace running completely — but it sure worked us out hard. Maybe it was the one-on-one session with a St. Louis Rams trainer that left us dripping sweat after only 12 minutes, but we sure enjoyed testing this product.
2. Ocean Yoga
We admit that yoga intimidates us, but yoga on a stand-up paddleboard-like product — FreeMotion Fitness’ Ocean Yoga Board — somehow is approachable. Ocean Yoga was launched at the show, and its PaddleFitness workouts, developed by famed Surfer Laird Hamilton, looked so fun we had to try one. We did and will be the first to tell you it’s a rewarding workout.
3. Woodway Curve
This isn’t new, but we had never hopped on the Woodway Curve until this show. This self-powered treadmill, which is literally curved, feels just like running outside. If the user leans forward, the treadmill goes faster so it promotes proper running form and doesn’t feel as hard on the knees as traditional treadmills.
4. Octane LateralX
The Octane LateralX isn’t entirely new either, but now touch-screen technology provides the interactive workouts and entertainment that consumers are getting used to at clubs. The split screen is a bonus.
5. FreeMotion Fitness F707 Hamstring
We were able to get a one-on-one session with Jeremy Strom, director of education for FreeMotion Fitness. He put us on the F707 Hamstring machine, which offers progressive resistance — meaning the cable that provides the resistance isn’t stationary, rather it moves with the user's leg to provide a more intense workout.
6. Helix HLT 3500
We're totally digging lateral movements these days. The Helix launched a few years ago, but its new commercial-grade unit is bigger, sturdier and has more comfortable foot beds. You can do squats and other types of booster exercises while getting in your cardio.
7. reACT Trainer
When we saw this product in a press kit we thought it had the footprint of a StepMill or other stair climber, but it’s actually much smaller with a footprint similar to a treadmill's. It’s a platform that one stands on while it moves in a circular motion, forcing you to engage muscles as it shifts. We definitely felt it on our hips.
We didn’t have time for many classes, but we figured this one was worth a shot. And we're still sore! This workout was intense, but Laura Wilson, instructor and Pivotal 5 (Kettleworx's parent company) director of programming, was super-enthusiastic, and made the 30 minutes fly by.
9. Spri Ropes
Rope training is gaining popularity at gyms all over the country, but notice the handles of the ropes the next time you go into a gym. They’re not easy to grip, but Spri is fixing that with new handles that make it easier for exercisers to do the popular exercise while holding the rope properly.
10. TreadClimber 5 by StairMaster and TreadClimber by Star Trac
These two products have the same guts, because they come from the same parent company — Core Health and Fitness — but their outsides are very different. Both, however, torch calories with a low perceived effort. We spent some time on each and our marathon-running lungs were out of breath in five minutes.