January 6, 1995 in Sports

Exercise Buffs Gravitating To High Tech But Old Standbys Such As Free Weights Still Have Place In Clubs, Home Gyms

Craig Evarts Correspondent
 

How can I accomplish my New Year’s fitness resolution, and be the trendiest jock on the block?

The hot new trend in gym equipment is actually not new at all. In the big gyms it seems equipment that has been available for 10 years on the Coast and two years in the Inland Northwest are just now gaining widespread popularity.

The Gravitron is the most fascinating.

It’s a practical combination of useful technology and older, proven techniques to build upper bodies. Methods include pullups, chinups and dips. According to Dave Zimmerman, a personal trainer formerly at Stroh’s Fitness and Racquet Club, “the machine is designed to give you full-range resistance at a lower body weight.”

The machine is simple in design and use. When starting, the user enters his or her weight and skill level into the machine’s computer. Then they step on to the platform and exercise in the gravitational field of their choice. The platform lifts and pushes the user up as much as needed. While using the machine, the user’s body weight can be reduced until it’s like exercising on the Space Shuttle.

Zimmerman says the idea is to “reduce your body weight to allow you to do more repetitions.” The machine monitors both time and repetitions.

The machine will not be found in many basement gyms with the high-tech price tag of $7,500.

Popular equipment for the basement gym is going back to fire-tested basics - free weights, infomercial products and non-motorized treadmills.

“Non-motorized treadmills are the revived fad,” said Bob Wilson of Kustom Built Exercise Equipment, noting his company receives “two calls a day asking for Bruce Jenner Power Walk.”

The advantage of non-motorized equipment over models with motors underneath the machine is an increased walking area, making a longer stride possible.

The “soft deck” is the biggest advancement in treadmill design. It is a walking surface that absorbs shock. The treadmills that require no maintenance are the most sought after.

Another improvement on an age-old design is the Power Block, a change to the dumbbell that saves the user a room full of space and sells for half the price of dumbbells. At first glance, it could be a rodent trap of the 22nd century. You wonder if, once you grab on, it will let you free.

It operates exactly as a dumbbell. However, to change the weight, the user removes iron cube shells at 5-pound intervals. With its simplicity and advanced design, the Power Block is a great addition to the home gym.

In both the home and gym, free weights are regaining popularity.

Tami Swingle has been lifting free weights for more than two years and says the most dramatic increase is among women. Zimmerman attributes this trend to women getting more comfortable in the gym. “Women are using free weights more,” he said. “They are getting used to the club setting.”

All the passing trends are fascinating, Wilson advises, “Do whatever you’re going to do, even if it is only a $200 stationary bike.”

MEMO: This sidebar ran with story: GETTING FIT Top 5 fitness apparatus or activities in poll of local clubs or gyms: 1. Treadmill 2. Stairclimber (all climbing apparatus) 3. Weights (machines and free weights) 4. Bicycles 5. Aerobics (includes swimming)

The names may be different, but the objective is the same - to make you sweat and get you fit and trim. Fitness directors at local clubs and gyms used high-tech names to describe some of the pieces of equipment used by Inland Empire residents to get in shape or keep fit. “There’s some real state-of-the-art stuff out there,” said Jerry Stroh, owner of Stroh’s Fitness Center. He said the exercise craze has gone “far beyond one piece of equipment.” “People are combining two or three things, like a treadmill and stairclimber, for a cardiovascular workout, then are getting in some aerobics and some weights for a total workout,” noted Keith Snyder at Spokane Falls Community College. In an informal poll of some local fitness experts, cardiovascular workouts appear by far the most popular, followed by muscle-toning and aerobics.

This sidebar ran with story: GETTING FIT Top 5 fitness apparatus or activities in poll of local clubs or gyms: 1. Treadmill 2. Stairclimber (all climbing apparatus) 3. Weights (machines and free weights) 4. Bicycles 5. Aerobics (includes swimming)

The names may be different, but the objective is the same - to make you sweat and get you fit and trim. Fitness directors at local clubs and gyms used high-tech names to describe some of the pieces of equipment used by Inland Empire residents to get in shape or keep fit. “There’s some real state-of-the-art stuff out there,” said Jerry Stroh, owner of Stroh’s Fitness Center. He said the exercise craze has gone “far beyond one piece of equipment.” “People are combining two or three things, like a treadmill and stairclimber, for a cardiovascular workout, then are getting in some aerobics and some weights for a total workout,” noted Keith Snyder at Spokane Falls Community College. In an informal poll of some local fitness experts, cardiovascular workouts appear by far the most popular, followed by muscle-toning and aerobics.


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