Fitness Programs | IHRSA Conference Round-Up

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IHRSA Conference Round-Up

It wasn’t the NCAA basketball tournament, but the sheer excitement, muscle and sweat exhibited by some 12,000 fitness industry professionals who attended the 27th annual International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association Conference and Tradeshow at the San Diego Convention Center had a lot in common with March Madness.

More than 413 exhibitors packed the convention center’s 400,000 square-foot exhibit hall from March 5-8 showcasing their newest inventions, product designs and workout programs. After all, a “hit product” with fitness professionals and health club owners can reap lucrative rewards when it translates into consumer excitement. This article highlights innovative products introduced at IHRSA that promise bike fans interesting turns, step enthusiasts a new slant and gentle ways to tone your body in time for bathing suit season.

Becoming A “RealRyder”

RealRyderColin Irving, former competitive cyclist and co-founder of RealRyder LLC in Pacific Palisades, Calif. hopes his new ride will have indoor cycling enthusiasts jumping in and out of their seats for joy. Judging by the draw of fitness pros who participated in the 20-minute group cycling classes offered on the trade floor, the RealRyder, a new type of stationary bike which Irving designed to turn, steer and tilt like a real road bike, certainly evoked curiosity and a great deal of attention.

Says Irving, “We had 50 bikes made in Taiwan for introduction at the IHRSA show.” Some of these bikes may soon be rolled into the NRG Fitness and Performance studio in Escondido, Calif., say studio owners Rene and Brian Nolan.

Ms. Nolan plans to integrate the RealRyder bikes as part of the studio’s circuit training program. She also wants to introduce their personal training and group training clients to 45-to-120-minute long indoor cycling classes. Nolan says after a year-long search, she’s finally found a bike that offers her clients something different.

“I’ve been teaching spin classes for 10 years now and these bikes are well beyond innovative,” Nolan says. “There is a lot more versatility—you can move from side to side, the feel of these bikes is very smooth compared to other bikes and it’s also better structured.” The only drawback, thus far, is cost, Nolan says.

Rich Hanson, executive vice president at RealRyder, gives a price of $1,995 per bike for buying one to nine bikes; and $1,695 per bike for ordering 50 bikes and up. That compares to $800 to $1,000 for currently available group cycling bikes, Nolan notes.

Even Hanson admits that health club owners will likely think twice about making the upfront investment not knowing how much their members will enjoy the RealRyder. But he’s convinced it’ll only be a short while before indoor and outdoor cyclists will embrace its “real-road” feel.

RealRyder plans to introduce an ACE-approved continuing education program for group cycling instructors. For more information, visit online.

A New Slant on Step

SPRIRemember these commands? V-step, straddle down, now lunge.

Surely, step aerobics groupies have been practicing these moves since Madonna landed her first big hit album “Like a Virgin” back in the 80s. New generation material girls, Britney and Christina, may have given step class participants new tunes. But it was up to fitness pro Chris Freytag to help introduce a new slant on step.

The veteran ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainers and star of multiple Prevention magazine DVDs joined forces with SPRI Products Inc. to bring the slanted surface, which fits under the old step platform, to the masses.

“For those of us who have been stepping for the last 15 years, the slanted riser adds a whole new dynamic to group fitness,” says Freytag, who is a member of the ACE board of directors.

She feels the slant offers great variety: Group fitness instructors can do more explosive, athletic-type moves rather than mere dance choreography; stacked as an incline bench, the step transforms into a platform for doing strength-training exercises; and placed parallel to one another, the slant offers personal trainers a perfect platform to have their clients perform drills, jumps, and other dynamic movements.

Adam Zwyer, marketing manager for SPRI located in Libertyville, Ill., cites a cost of $59.95 for a pair of slanted risers, which comes with a 90-minute DVD featuring three 30-minute strength, cardio and interval segments. Zwyer predicts experienced instructors will add their own creative slant to the group exercise format: “People are (already) comfortable with the step (platform) and use it differently.”

SPRI also gave its exercise balls a make-over. The new Xerball medicine ball, for instance, is a departure from the clunky weighted balls of the past. If it looks like a basketball, grips like a basketball and bounces, should it be dunked? The answer is probably not. At a weight of 2 pounds to 30 pounds, the Xerball is still a strength-training ball inside and out. Look for it starting this June. Cost ranges from $20 to $80 each. SPRI’s new Xerdisc, a lightweight air-filled disc, has also been restructured in shape and wall thickness to look and perform better. It will be sold for $34.95 a piece. For more information, visit on the Net.


GravityTelevision viewers surely have seen Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley at one time or another sculpting their Hollywood bodies to perfection on a machine that uses a glide board and a cable system. Now the maker of the home training system Total Gym, San Diego-based efi Sports Medicine, has created a new programming series for instructors to train clients on its functional training system called Gravity. Gravity has risen to popularity in health clubs and in Pilates and personal training studios nationwide.

The new “Gravity Clubhouse” membership program, formally introduced at IHRSA, offers trainers and club owners DVD workouts and choreography, music, online education, discounts on Gravity Gear and promotional items with the click of a mouse. Trainers chose among three “tracs:” Gravity Group Strength-training, Gravity Pilates and Gravity Blast, featuring five 15-minute supersets for working abs, shoulders, chest and other body parts. For more information on Gravity and Gravity Clubhouse visit and on the Internet.

Marion Webb is the managing editor for the American Council on Exercise. For specific fitness-related story ideas or comments, please e-mail her directly at