It is fitness expo season across the globe with IHRSA hitting Orlando (US) this week, FILEX in Melbourne (Australia) and FIBO in Cologne (Germany) in April to name a few!
Last week a gym owner from New Jersey reached out to me after discovering Technogym’s new SKILLMILL via my blog Fitness Equipment Cafe. He was pretty excited about the opportunity to get a closer look at IHRSA this month and I totally understand why!
Discovering the latest and greatest fitness equipment is honestly the best perk of blogging on the subject. Whether equipment comes from the worlds biggest equipment manufactures or the backyard shed of a passionate individual – I love fitness equipment!!!
So here is my top 10 fitness equipment finds over the last three years of expo’s. I hope you discover some new gems within this list below.
Note: The criteria is simple. The equipment on this list, must’ve featured on www.fitnessequipmentcafe.com in the form of an expo demo/interview. I can’t just pick equipment that I like from news pieces.
# 10 – AIRGO, By Big Ass Fans
Lets start with a bit of controversy shall we? I know it’s not fitness equipment, but it is: in-gym equipment! The moment I saw this huge fan I knew it was a winner! The ‘AIRGO’ is a free standing, mobile piece of art! It is 8 feet in diameter, pretty energy efficient and runs off a standard 10 amp plug-and-play plug. Whether you own a ‘box’, boutique or large commercial facility, Big Ass Fans have a fan for you! Check out their entire range including the whopping POWERFOIL X3.0 ceiling fan and the AIRGO’s baby brother BLACK JACK fan, and be prepared to be thanked by your members & staff!
# 9 – Surge 360
Hands up who was in the industry when hydraulic fitness was all the rage! Well, the Surge 360 represents all the things that were right about the hydraulic movement. This neat piece of semi-mobile equipment is perfect for any size gym seeking to make an impact on either their gym floor, circuit class or PT zone! I say semi-mobile, as it can easily be moved around a gym, but I wouldn’t be able to put it in the boot of my car for PT sessions.
The Surge 360 can be used by one person bilaterally or two people (one per pole). Hydraulic resistance in this sense is pretty nifty, as the range of motion per pole is really broad and strength of resistance is controlled by your pace.
# 8 – FitMetrix
At it’s core FitMetrix is a heart rate tracking platform aimed at the group fitness market.
I really like that the white labeled FitMetrix platform easily integrates into your existing website as if it is your own. The whole system is designed to engage members on multiple levels. FitMetrix can be used as a ‘performance data’ visual display in your group fitness room OR if out in the field, a PT can showcase workout data on a laptop. Deeper into FitMetrix, users have the ability to book classes, view historical workout data and more! I feel that tools like FitMetrx are a clever way for clubs to revitalise an aging group fitness program!
# 7 – SURFSET Fitness Board
The more I see happy people doing SURFSET classes on social media, the more I want one! If I were to set up a boutique gym or personal training studio, this would be on my list of must haves. The board is super responsive and is a magical workout for individuals, small groups or even a large group fitness classes! I think that I would find it hard to run out of new exercises and fitness sessions to do on the SURFSET FITNESS Board… but just in case I did, add a SandBell or two and #progression achieved! Oh… last thing… did I mention it was fun!?!
# 6 – FIT3D ProScanner
It’s not often I come across an assessment tool as cool as this. Taking peoples measurements is not the most enjoyable thing in the business and I’m certain that sentiment is felt on both ends of the measuring tape! Enter the unobtrusive FIT3D ProScanner that literally creates a 3D model of a person, identifying their body measurements via a 40 second 360 degree rotating scan.
The selling points of this machine are; speed, accuracy and no measuring tape! Dan of FIT3D Australia mentioned in our interview that there is no need to wear the same clothes to your next assessment as scan bypasses the thickness of the clothes! A+ in my book!
# 5 – PAVIGYM 3.0
The PAVIGYM 3.0 is simply sensational! As a PT, I used to use colourful duck tape on my studio floor to create zones and lines to achieve all sorts of exercise variations. Clients found it fun, I found it inspiring and some sessions felt like we were a couple of kids in a toy shop! Well imagine the moment I strolled onto the Life Fitness stand and Aaron said “Have you heard of Pavigym?”
Needless to say, I fell in love with the simpleness of turning floor space into an interactive and dynamic piece of equipment within its own right! In my 90 Seconds With… PAVIGYM flooring video, you will see how it also greatly enhances the user experience under the Synrgy360 rig.
If you want a true idea of the potential of PAVIGYM, including embedded floor and wall lights (and associated control panel), you should check out their twitter account (@pavigym) and website www.pavigym.com
# 4 – Matrix I7C Indoor Bike featuring Coach By Colour
I did a write up in January on all the new high tech bikes that I have managed to video recently. Whilst they are all awesome in their own way, one bike stands out in my mind – the Matrix IC7 with Coach by Colour.
After an initial on-bike FTW (Functional Threshold Wattage) test, the bike issues you with a score which becomes the basis of your effort via colored zones. I really like the concept of a screen that changes colour depending on what zone you are in… I’m constantly amazed by the power of immediate feedback! In a class setting the colour is also visible to the instructor which adds an interesting dynamic and I am sure an exchange of colourful dialogue too!
What I most like about the IC7 and other new-age indoor cycles is their ability to blend in on the gym floor as a legitimate stand alone piece of cardio equipment.
# 3- Life Fitness Synrgy360
At first glance I thought the Synrgy360 looked like a fancy storage rack for kettlebells, bands, straps and other gear. But once I took a closer look, and really thought about how it would apply in the gym setting, I became excited by its possibilities.
What Life Fitness have delivered is a high-end product for the minimalistic market. The Synrgy360 would suit a small group PT studio or a commercial gym’s group fitness zone. It looks impressive and provides a tonne of exercise variations, restricted only by your programming ability.
What I really like about this system, is that the instructor is elevated in importance, not minimalised. This has a number of foreseeable advantages including an improved relationship with club members, which potentially improves retention. Additionally, given the focus on strength exercises, I could see it leading to a conversion of male participants to ‘Synrgy classes’. This was always a focus of mine in the gym setting.
When I think of the Synrgy360 sitting in a club, I imagine a circuit styled class, where the instructor(s) spot clients, as they move from battle rope to dips, to TRX RIP, to pulls ups, to wood chops and beyond. Motivating, challenging and inspiring club members to their best fitness.
I wish the Synrgy360 existed when I managed a PT studio many years ago! I would have happily replaced the jungle gym configuration of chest, back and leg machines, with the Synrgy, as it offers so much more variation & excitement than fixed pieces. That said, the Synrgy360 at IHRSA – 2015, looked a little different with a Multi-Jungle attached to one end! You can see that image in my Life Fitness @ IHRSA 2015 post.
One of the big selling points of the Synrgy360 for me is the dual adjustable pulley. That piece alone gets my programming juices flowing and really pays dividends in the personal training setting.
The Synrgy360 is customisable via modules and currently comes in four initial configurations: T, XS, XM and XL, with further options in the form of: VERSA, MIX, COMBO & VERSA DAP Packages. You can view them all at the Life Fitness site.
Last thought is on flooring. Life Fitness have gone the logical ‘extra mile’ and provided flooring options via PAVIGYM. I think that if I were to set up a new gym from scratch, I would design from the floor up. Looking at the myriad of markings and zones under the Synrgy360, really adds to the variation of movements and targets for ball throws, tyre flips and anything you can imagine!
# 2 – Precor P80 Console
When Precor launched the P80 console, it was a game changer. Not only did the creators throw away the conventional thinking around physical console shape, they invested heavily in creating a robust, flexible and identifiable platform – Preva Networked Fitness.
With a drive towards ease of use and personalisation for both gym operators and gym users, the P80 has managed to gain a big fan base! Precor have 41,000 P80 consoles networked in 3638 facilities across 72 countries and have recorded a whopping 205,000,000 workouts by users (at the time of writing this post).
Whilst Precor are certainly not alone in the game, they have shown leadership in the move away from hardware based sales, into software based solutions via smart console technology.
When you suddenly have the power of smart console technology, it is easy to go over the top and throw everything into it. Andy Pickett of Precor told me in an interview that “games are an unwelcome distraction” and I respect that philosophy. Precor have stuck to their belief of fitness is foremost, keeping the P80 simple, making their screens clean, uncluttered and functional.
Precor employ approximately 50 software developers, who have created simple features such as:
- Featured work out of the day (replacing Quick Start) as main the focus on the home screen,
- TV controls and slap ‘motion’ toggles are all positioned off the touch screen,
- an ergo designed console that you can grab a hold of during a workout (think AMT rather than treadmill),
- Meta-Gaming in the form of reward badges and recognition of achievements (we’re all big kids at heart aren’t we!?!)
- RFID login (that can be expanded to include turnstile, locker and cafe purchases etc)
- Weekly progress display,
- Custom goal setting,
- Ability to push workout results to social media,
- Video On Demand
- Web exercise videos
- In work out advertisements &
- Preva Business Suite, Preva Asset Manager and Preva In-Touch for gym managers…
Precor have also created the Coaching Centre which is an online education and training resource for everyone who owns, uses or maintains Precor fitness equipment. They have broken the site into four categories: Operators, Fitness Professionals, Service Providers and Exercisers, offering something for everyone!
For all the reasons above plus many more, Precor’s P80 console is my pick of the bunch to date. I am definitely looking forward to getting up close and personal with the new P82 console at the Australian Fitness & Health Expo in Melbourne in April. Stay tuned for that video in May.
# 1 – The OOV
In short, discovering the OOV was life changing for me, therefore is my ultimate fitness expo find!
“The idea behind the OOV is to decompress and lengthen the spine, while you are lying down on it, with your pelvis in an open loop so you are having to control your pelvis… It is unstable rotationally, so it activates all your core muscles, (and) gives your diaphragm somewhere to go… You can start to use it as a core control, motor control, and eccentric training tool, used in recovery and strength and conditioning as well” – Daniel Vladeta – OOV Creator.
Before you scratch your head or tap-out a nasty email to me, let me explain a bit of background. I suffered a traumatic back injury a few years ago. While the surgery was a success, I was still pretty broken. Everyday began with lower back pain that would eventually fade as my body warmed up.
So when I met the OOV’s creator Daniel on the HF Industries stand, I was fragile and dubious of his offer to try out this weird looking tool. Daniel on the other hand was very confident that it would blow me away. Immediately after an on-expo-stand session, I felt taller and more muscularly engaged! It was a really weird sensation.
After interviewing Daniel, I immediately went out and bought my very own OOV and I feel it has played a key role in my back management plan. The OOV is also supported by an app (The Movement Programme) offering 4 weeks of progression that can be easily repeated in maintenance phases.
Additionally, the OOV has potential in the group fitness setting, with a number of facilities already running programs as we speak.
I hope you like this list. If you want further details on a particular brand or product, drop me a comment, email, tweet or facebook message and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.
Until Next Time,
Fitness Equipment Cafe
Guest Blogger: Nate Effeney from Fitness Equipment Cafe. Fitness Equipment Cafe’s mission is to be the: #1 source of independent fitness equipment expertise – globally.