LAS VEGAS -- This year's International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) convention March 20-23 in Las Vegas may have been highlighted by former President Bill Clinton's speech and the Augie's Quest Gala charity event to raise money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), but many of the more than 12,000 fitness professionals from 70 countries who attended the conference also showed up to check out the products on the exhibit hall floor. Following are just some of the many products that attendees had an opportunity to experience.
Checkfree introduced managed data services at the show. This is a membership management system that combines online club management software, electronic payment processing and outsourced management of billing and member services. It allows Internet and in-club kiosk access to personal accounts and workout plans. It comes in three service tiers. The system uses Internet-based club management software, which eliminates the need for in-house computer network infrastructure. The system generates a monthly report that provides a summary of monthly club activities. It can also report on missed billings and provide a profile of the club’s most profitable members.
Efi Sports Medicine offered the first look at its new GRAVITYouth Series™--a club program designed to help children be active, train for sports and have fun. The program features two age-specific workouts: Secret Circuit for kids 7-11 years old, and Sports Circuit for children 12-15 years old. Both 30-minute workouts are performed on efi’s GTS unit, an incline glideboard and cable pulley system that uses an individual’s body weight as resistance. In Secret Circuit, participants choose from a deck of cards featuring various exercises they are to perform and surprises such as wild cards and a Joker. Sports Circuit engages participants by linking exercises to sports activities and competition.
Exertron's founder Bob Kissel demonstrated at the show the patented exercise technology he created for strength-training equipment. The technology uses intelligent variable resistance that reacts to the user’s momentary available strength. It uses sensors to automatically adjust resistance for strength. Rather than the user manually changing the weights as their muscles tire, the machine reacts to their need for a lower weight and changes it. The technology measures performance, encouraging users to continually improve their score from workout to workout. Currently, the technology is not available on strength equipment, but it is adaptable to any strength machine, Kissel said.
Expresso Fitness introduced Internet-based capabilities for its virtual reality-enhanced Spark fitness bike. The new capabilities allow exercisers to personalize their fitness regimen. Spark riders can create their own IDs and customize their workouts. They can race against their best performances or those of other facility members. All workouts are collected and riders can review their progress on www.expresso.net. Specially designed trainer links deliver new tools for trainers through a Web-based trainer portal. With this tool, trainers can review member activity, offer online hints, benchmark fitness and create motivational group workouts.
The EZ Facility 3.0 trainer management system is a scheduling, management and reporting tool for facilities that offer personal training. It is delivered via a monthly Internet software service. The product not only schedules bookings, but it also calculates trainer payroll and commissions, manages customer account information, invoicing and payment tracking (printed or e-mailed).
FreeMotion Fitness introduced the FreeMotion treadmill and FreeMotion elliptical trainer. The treadmill is powered by a direct rear velocity system, a rear-drive motor system that combined with urethane deck isolators provides additional cushioning that creates a softer running surface. The motor system pulls rather than pushes the treadbelt, which provides direct, consistent belt tension and alleviates some of the stress on the bearing and rollers, which means less maintenance. The elliptical trainer features patented rear-access design to minimize its footprint and maximize floor space. It has a custom-designed electromagnetic resistance system that applies consistent resistance for smooth performance, less maintenance and generates power for the basic console.
Life Fitness debuted new circuit training equipment that provides easy access, push button resistance selection and low starting resistance for seniors or those unfamiliar with strength equipment. The circuit series consists of 11 pieces of equipment. The company also noted upgrades on its treadmills (93T on up series), including a more convenient location on the ergo bar for te incline an dspeed adjustment buttons, preprogrammed "Go System" buttons to make changing speeds easier, higher maximum speeds, a stride sensor that detects when a user leaves a machine and stops the belt after a brief delay and a LED sensor to notify club operators when the belt needs maintenanced. The company's 91Xi elliptical now has 16 programs, eight new interval workouts and two new interactive zone trainign heart rate workouts--cardio and fat burn.
MYE Entertainment is combining its advanced in-club TV with MP3 music. The system allows users to access entertainment from TV, FM radio and their own MP3 music library. The MYE Entertainment controllers attach easily to cardio equipment. Currently, MYE Entertainment is partnering with True Fitness to place the technology on their cardio equipment.
The Panasonic Core Trainer looks like a short barstool with a modern saddle for a seat. The Core Trainer moves the seat side to side while leaning it—and the user—forward, level and then backwards. Users must stabilize themselves with their thighs and core. Panasonic does not have any models ready yet for clubs as the company is still refining the product.
Power Plate, which uses vibration technology to train users’ muscles, debuted a new feature at the show-- card key software that allows health clubs to improve sales and management of Power Plate training session packages. The Power Plate is generally used in one-on-one or group training sessions. The card key allows clubs to control who is on the equipment and allows them to program session packages. Power Plate is used by some professional athletes and is in place at Shula’s Gym in Florida.
SportKAT’s Korebalance has been used by physical therapists for several years, but the company is now launching the equipment into the fitness club market. Korebalance is used by athletes for agility training and by seniors for balance training. The product requires users to use their spatial senses as well as their core. Some might consider it a stability ball of sorts (using a hydraulic system to move the plate) with bars to hold onto if needed and a video element added in. As users stand on the plate, the screen in front of them projects an image that users must navigate by balancing on the plate.
Stoplight Solutions offers a product called TimeFrame, which includes a 40-inch LCD touchscreen that provides instant access to customers’ information needs. The system is designed to be placed in a facility so members can access the information. It helps them get real-time information about a club’s classes, promotions and services.
True Fitness showed off its True Strider (TS1), a new elliptical cross trainer with a shorter stride, smaller footprint, rear entry rather than side entry, and a core drive system under the pedals. The pedals remain parallel to the ground in a fixed plane throughout the stride, providing more natural motion for the ankle. The TS1 offers three workout options – combined upper and lower body workout, a legs-only cardio session, or an arms-only session.
Virgin Life Care demonstrated its Virgin HealthZone system on which users can track their blood pressure, weight, BMI and body fat. Users also can input their workouts and then access a personalized account via the Internet to earn rewards (monetary and vouchers) that are based on their activity. Virgin Life Care markets the HealthZone system to corporations for their employees and locates the HealthZones in partnering fitness facilities.