One of the biggest joys in life is trying something new. And as a member of the fitness industry, you likely try a lot of new fitness products. I tried several while in Anaheim, CA, two weeks ago at the IDEA World Fitness Convention.
Here is a quick recap of much of what I saw in the exhibit hall, and if you want to see pictures of many of these product, view our photo gallery:
StrongBoard Balance. At this booth, I tried out the StrongBoard Balance, which looks like two skateboards (without wheels) sandwiching four compression springs. When you stand on the top board, you must balance yourself and work your core because of the springs. I met Mike and Adella Curry, the couple who co-founded StrongHold Fitness LLC, the company that makes StrongBoard Balance. Mike is a certified fitness coach who still does coaching despite starting up this company. Adella owns her own marketing company and heads up the marketing and public relations for StrongBoard. Mike shared how the product is being used in rehab centers and how they are reaching out to more fitness facilities for use in training sessions as well as group exercise classes. Adella got me up on the board to do a few squats. I could feel how the instability of the board caused more intense engagement of my leg muscles and caused me to focus more on my weak core. The portability of the product made me briefly consider tucking it away in my bag, but alas, my bag wasn't quite big enough. Check out a few exercises your clients can do on the StrongBoard here.
Fluidity. At the Fluidity booth, I spoke with founder Michelle Austin about the Fluidity Barre and the Fluidity Method that she created. Austin studied kinesiology and studied the Lotte Berk Method under Lotte Berk in London before creating this product and system. The Fluidity system allows Barre to be done even at clubs without space to put barres around their group exercise rooms. The barres are easily folded and moved to the side by one person. The classes gained popularity in the early 2000s at gyms in New York City, and the company is expanding to fitness facilities around the country. If you want to try out the mobile Barre system, check it out at the Club Industry Show in October where Fluidity will host a class at 3:45 p.m. on Oct. 22 and during the early morning workouts on Oct. 24.
Intelliskin. I'm standing a little taller during my workouts after my visit to the Intelliskin booth. Tim Brown, who has 30 years of experience in sports medicine and is an athlete, created sports bras, tops, shorts and pants that keep the posture of athletes and exercisers in alignment, helping to improve performance and decrease the risk of injuries, he says. At the IDEA show, the company introduced a women-specific Aura line that has a thinner-looking silhouette. The products evolved from the process of sports taping, which Brown used to do as medical director for the Association of Volleyball Professionals and later when he traveled with the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour. He did what he called Specific Proprioceptive Response Taping (SPRT), which helps the body heal "by aligning and compressing soft tissue injuries in the direction of relief and correction," according to the company's website. However, people began asking Brown for something that didn't require putting tape on their skin. Brown began working on a piece of clothing that could do the same thing, creating a posture correction shirt that also helps athletes optimize their performance and relieve pain if they are injured as well as help them heal more quickly.
DISQ. I spoke with Robbert Boekema, founder of DISQ, about what inspired the DISQ, which involves using straps to attach resistance cords to each arm and leg and then attaching a belt with a "dial" on each side of it that allows users to adjust the resistance. Boekema was a speed skater (his mother won a gold medal in speed skating in the 1968 Winter Olympics), and he and his fellow speed skaters wanted a way to do strength training when they were on the road. He got the idea for DISQ when he was on a ski holiday and pulled the cord of his ski pants, he says. The DISQ has been in health clubs across Europe for several years but is making its debut in the United States as a group exercise option at Crunch. Boekema and his team worked with Crunch Senior Vice President of Programming Donna Cyrus and her team to develop some group exercise classes with the DISQ. Boekema says he hopes to expand to other club brands soon. The company also offers an iPhone app with a series of exercises that clients can do with the DISCQ outside of the gym.
TRX. I took a little time to stop by TRX and chat with Randy Hetrick, founder of the company. TRX celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year, debuting at IDEA in 2004. The company has launched My Locker, a new education and community platform for TRX trainers. The booth was abuzz with trainers checking out the My Locker site and trying out the suspension training system, but just as much buzz was created by the photo booth. Posing with a TRX Rip Trainer, people could choose from a number of backgrounds that were superimposed behind you. I visited the booth with Laurie Morylak, our integrated sales rep, and we posed on a surfboard with a shark eyeing us for lunch. (See the picture by going to our photo gallery.)
Fitnet. I kept noticing people in bright orange T-shirts, sweat bands around their heads and rather thick-rimmed glasses walking around the exhibit hall. They kind of, well, stood out among the trendily clad, tan and toned trainers and group exercise instructors. When I arrived at the Fitnet booth, I found it was filled with bright orange T-shirts and thick-rimmed glasses on people who seemed to take great pride in calling themselves "geeks." In fact, Bob Summers is "chief geek" for Fitnet, and he was happy to share how he created the company after needing a workout option and a way to stay connected to his trainer when traveling. His team and he created a mobile app that allows users to view workout videos. That doesn't sound that revolutionary, does it? Well, the difference is that this system uses biometric sensors to determine if exercisers are following along with the exercise appropriately. Trainers can then go into the system to see how their clients did. The trainers can select from more than 200 videos to create a workout for their clients by piecing together five-minute videos.
Helix. I stopped by the Helix booth to say hello to Scott Logan, vice president of sales and marketing at Helix. He shared that Helix has introduced a new version of its lateral trainer that works for group exercise classes and small group training. The lateral trainers they had at the show were a modern white color with a tad smaller footprint and a bit lighter than the original versions.
In addition to trying out these products, I stopped by the W.I.T.S. booth and spoke with Jay Del Vecchio and Amy Hyams about the Personal Trainer Summit that W.I.T.S. will host at the Club Industry Show at 2 p.m. on Oct. 23. They will be discussing how personal trainers can apply what EMTs learned in gaining acceptance to help personal trainers gain more acceptance in the medical community. The summit also will include an expert panel that will discuss issues of interest to personal trainers.