Exerciser Demand Drives Innovation in Ellipticals and Lateral Trainers

Elliptical crosstrainers are among the most popular pieces of equipment at most gyms, but equipment manufacturers aren't resting on their laurels.

Elliptical crosstrainers have become basic offerings in cardio areas, and lateral trainers are quickly becoming yet another core category, but manufacturers continue to stoke users’ interest with fresh features and new products.

Virtually every major company in the arena—including, among others, Bodytone, Bodyguard Fitness, Precor, Inc., True Fitness, the Helix Company, and Octane Fitness—is contributing to the innovation.

“Exercisers are looking for new ways to reach their goals, and these products target different areas, and open up promising workout customization possibilities,” say Matt Hacker, the chief sales officer for True Fitness.

Changes in Stride, Incline, and Lateral Movement

That company’s Spectrum elliptical, for instance, has a stride length of 13" to 30", allowing individuals to use it either as a stepper, an elliptical, or a strider.

“There’s definitely growth in these categories, with stride length, incline, and lateral movement patterns providing additional ways to provide exactly what members are looking for,” says Tim Porth, the vice president of development for commercial and specialty products at Octane Fitness.

Of Helix’s unique lateral trainer, Scott Logan, the vice president of sales and marketing for the firm, says, “We think it’s a game-changer that will rock the industry.”

The first recumbent trainer, it allows exercisers to make use of lateral motion in a seated position.

“This non-weight-bearing machine is more friendly to baby boomers who’ve had hip replacement or resurfacing, deconditioned users who can profit from the multi-planar motion, and physical therapy and rehab patients,” he says.

“Our focus is to make the best-feeling elliptical, while, at the same time, maintaining a small footprint.”

Justin Richardson, Director of Sales and Marketing

Bodyguard Fitness

Customized User Experiences

The TFT console on Bodytone’s EVOE2 elliptical features the Trainingym app, which customizes workouts based on the user’s preferences, and allows them to create programs and track progress on their smartphone.

“This app also helps gym owners by providing statistics and analysis on equipment usage,” says Araceli Bañon, of Bodytone’s international sales department.

“Our focus is to make the best-feeling elliptical, while, at the same time, maintaining a small footprint,” says Justin Richardson, the director of sales and marketingfor Bodyguard Fitness.

The company’s units, offer three program modes—constant torque, constant watts, and gear ratio—to ensure a realistic exercise experience.

Precor, the company that holds the distinction of having introduced the elliptical concept in 1995, is hardly resting on its laurels. In July, it introduced a new Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer (EFX) that features improved aesthetics, a new Converging CrossRamp, and a new Active Status Light to monitor the equipment’s condition.

“The fundamental benefits of an elliptical remain unchanged and are as valuable as ever,” says Adam Hubbard, the company’s director of product management. “An elliptical is a ‘can’t-miss’ choice.”

Learn more about ellipticals and cross-trainers on Club Business Exchange.

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.