Over the years, my experience going to conferences and workshops taught me many things that have contributed to my success. One was that if I was an early adapter to a piece of equipment or a theory of training, it provided me with a way to stand out from other trainers and attract the attention from clients who are constantly looking for new, fun and exciting ways to exercise. If you are thinking about going to a conference this year, I highly recommend it! There is a lot of new equipment out on the market and the best place to learn about is often at a conference. After scoping out all of the latest equipment from recent trade shows, here are some of my favorite pieces. The biggest trends I’ve seen are the use of non-traditional strength-training equipment and the use of technology to enhance the exercise experience. The following products are not listed in any particular order: Kamagon Ball – This is an over-sized rubber medicine ball with two handles that can be filled with water to create variable, shifting loads. Moving a water-filled implement creates different challenges and can be a dynamic way to charge up a medicine-ball workout. Sandbells by Hyperwear – These neoprene weights come in different sizes and can be filled with either sand, water or steel shot to create shifting, variable loads. If you are looking for an alternative to medicine balls these can be lifted, carried or thrown to create many ways to challenge a client or spice up a boot camp program. ViPR – In the interest of full disclosure, the inventor of this product is a friend of mine. However, I wouldn’t mention it if I didn’t believe it was a true game changer for the industry. Developed by Michol Dalcourt, an expert on human movement, ViPR stands for Vitality, Performance and Reconditioning, it is designed to load movement in all planes and is an excellent tool for either 1-on-1 or small group training. Be the first kid on your block to be training with a tool developed by an top-level educator who truly understands human movement. Kinesio Capture – Are you looking for a way to analyze your clients movements and to document the gains made by your training program but don’t want to spend thousands for a high-speed camera and software? This app specifically designed for the camera available in the iPad 2 is a way to capture high-speed video to analyze movement right at your fingertips. Integrating technology with training is going to be the wave of the future and this app designed primarily for coaches working with performance athletes is a way to really document clients successes and help yourself stand out amongst your competition. Jungle-gym type workout equipment - My wife is lucky that we live in a townhouse without a backyard because if we had one then either the MoveStrong™ Functional Training System sold by Perform Better or the Space Station by PowerSystems would be arriving sometime in the near future. If you are a facility owner or if you are thinking about opening one then I highly recommend looking into one of these multi-station functional strength training tools. Each piece is designed to be used by a number of people at the same time with equipment such as ropes, Olympic bars, suspension systems and are perfect for dynamic, high-intensity small group training programs. I. Want. One. The Bulgarian Bag – What would happen if a kettlebell and sandbag mated to produce an offspring? The answer is the Bulgarian Bag. Developed by Bulgarian wrestling coach Ivan Ivanov (side note: the Bulgarians are known for their strength and power athletes), the bag is an excellent training tool to develop total body strength and power. I was introduced to the bag in a butt-kicking workout taught by Stephen Nave, a retired Navy SEAL who has developed the education for the bag and start the International Bulgarian Bag Confederation. If you are looking for a way to supercharge client workouts, take a close look at the Bulgarian Bag. Octane Elliptical Training Cross Circuit – Octane has found a solution for combining strength training with aerobic interval circuits by adding a dumbbell platform to the back of their trainers. The platform holds two PowerBlock adjustable dumbbells (themselves a cool piece of equipment) and has a workout guide for a total-body strength-training circuit to be performed between cardio intervals. The really neat thing is that part of the workout guide is a QR reader that when used by a smart phone has a direct link to a video demonstrating the circuit. If a user is having a hard time following the workout card, he or she can access the video in order to follow along with an instructor; a great use of technology as a way to combine different exercise modalities. If you are looking for ways to help your clients see results and stand out from your competition then I highly recommend getting out to a conference and experiencing some of these products firsthand. You’ll earn the continuing education necessary to maintain your certification, get to meet and work with other fitness professionals (which helps overcome trainer burnout) and learn about the latest research and training equipment. It might seem expensive but the money spent on attending professional education workshops can come back to you in many ways and the costs related to conference fees and travel could be tax deductible, so it is worth your investment (speak with a tax professional for specific information). If you want a reason to come to San Diego this November we will host the ACE Fitness Symposium where I’ll be teaching workshops about different strategies for core training and running a small group training program. Additionally, you can learn about some of the latest fitness products on the market and training techniques through the sessions and Vendor Showroom. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see you there!