Feature Article - March 2005
Find a printable version here

Fresh Fitness Checkup

Fitness equipment and programming: One doesn't work without the other, and both are changing

By Kyle Ryan

Personal training

The undisputed ruler of fitness-facility programming—personal training—has a hold on 89 percent of the facilities surveyed by IDEA. While most people typically think of personal training as pricey one-on-one time with an instructor, that definition is becoming less accurate. Small-group or paired personal training has gained popularity. According to IDEA, 65 percent of facilities offer paired personal training (up 23 percent since 1998), and 42 percent offer small-group training (up from 33 percent in 1998).

"What is exciting to me about this is that I see that the personal training with two clients sharing and three to five clients sharing is growing," Davis says, "and what makes me feel good about this is that I think it's going to be much more accessible to people because you really bring the cost down, number one, and number two, you're helping with adherence."

"Adherence" here means that people are more likely to stick to a program and enjoy themselves doing it when other people do it with them. Although personal training has, in some ways, moved beyond one-on-one interaction, trainers may need supplemental training to help them develop the necessary skills for it.

  New Equipment to Check Out

Here are descriptions of some recent industry offerings
you're bound to hear some buzz about:

  • Designed to be the opposite of the dumbbell, these curved weights have handles on each end. The curve allows for circular and rotational movement that works with body's dynamics.
  • A 25-inch disc with an inflatable dome and two recessed handles. People can stand on both sides and use it for various balance and core-training exercises.
  • An inclined inflatable or foam wedge that provides a base for more than 20 different core exercises, which are diagrammed on the top of the wedge itself
  • A sort of Maypole for group exercise, this is a steel pole connected to a 36-inch base with numerous bands attached to the pole. The bands have various tensions and have 360-degree spinning capability on the pole's seven different height connections.
  • A disc-based exercise system where participants stand on sliding discs
  • A four-pound omni-directional weighted ball that straps onto hands or feet
  • Heralded as the evolution of the step, this variable-level bench features a top that can be opened and propped to create a seat in three different positions. The area under the top has a storage bin for various accessories.
  • Designed for people in wheelchairs, this piece of equipment uses handles that glide along two converging tracks on both sides of the person. Users push the handles up and down to work their upper bodies.