Thursday, October 05, 2006

Sports Art and Life Fitness Visits

Today was a busy day and I had little time to get to many booths, but I did make it to two pre-set booth appointments—one with Sports Art and the other with Life Fitness.

I met with Scott Logan at Sports Art, arriving a little late because I was answering questions at our booth, but Scott was nice enough to overlook my tardiness. He was excited to tell me about the company’s family of cardio equipment, the Extreme Series, which they are launching at this show. Sports Art is trying to get their message out to the young personal trainers in hopes they’ll use the equipment with their clients. The company decided the Extreme name would appeal to these individuals because they are young and grew up with extreme sports.

The treadmills in this line use a different drive system than has been used before, he said. In fact, it’s the same technology that is used to stabilize fluctuations in the Apache helicopters.

He emphasized that the treadmills use 32 percent less power, which means a $3,000 per year savings in electricity costs for a club with 10 treadmills. The savings don’t end there as the treadmills don’t use brushes, which is what generally wears out on treadmills, so maintenance requirements are less, he said.

Scott showed me the company’s new recumbent bikes, too. The bikes have a comfort-dry seat back, which has venting, and the seatbacks are adjustable.

Later in the afternoon I headed to the Life Fitness booth to see the Summit Trainer, which is being officially launched at this show. I had seen it in its preview stage in June at Club Industry East. In fact, I spent part of an early morning workout getting a workout on the Summit Trainer at that show. I have to say that I felt my workout the next morning in several areas of the lower body.

Robert Qwest, senior director of cardio product management at Life Fitness, demonstrated the Summit Trainer for me. Users can adjust the stride during their workout—shorter or longer or lunge strides. Users can get a full body workout by grasping the handles or let go and just work the lower body. The equipment looks a bit like someone took some bike pedals, attached them to a thick metal rectangle and set the rectangle on a bit on an incline.

Qwest said the Summit Trainer has been tested in four test sites since April. Users like that the equipment is new and different, that it offered a total body workout and that they can control their stride, Qwest said. After getting the positive feedback, the first Summit Trainers are ready to be shipped this month.

Qwest also showed me the treadmills, which had the company’s new integrated LCD screens on them (the LCD screens are available on all the company’s equipment). The screen should make use easier for first time exercisers and seniors to figure out, Qwest said. The new screens allow for pace training for marathoners. Users can watch their progress around a track, on a nature trail or climbing a mountain, or they can watch TV instead. The screens also allow for a promo channel for the clubs on which they can promote their own club programs and messages. The clubs also can scroll a message along the bottom of the screen.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to workout on either the Sports Art or Life Fitness equipment during early morning workouts tomorrow as I have an early morning meeting, but perhaps I can get a great workout on them on Saturday.

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