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Did You Hear? Balance gear, body weight equipment increasing in popularity

Balance-training gear and equipment using body weight leveraging are rising in popularity among personal trainers and fitness clubs according to the 16th annual IDEA Fitness Programs and Equipment Trends Survey. SNEWS brings you the results.

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Fitness instructors and trainers have cast their vote, and they say balance-training equipment, foam rollers, small exercise balls, and gear that leverages body weight are top trends.

IDEA Health and Fitness, an association for fitness professionals, sent its 16th annual programs and equipment trends survey to club owners and personal trainers to determine what is hot and to spot growing trends. The survey found usage of Bosu balance trainers, and wobble and balance boards are on the rise, while traditional equipment like stair climbers, treadmills, step machines and platforms have been decreasing in popularity over the past five years. 

Stay balanced

Although respondents offering balance equipment decreased in 2011 to 86 percent of respondents offering the equipment in their facilities (down from 87 percent a year earlier), it was still the most popular item offered to consumers. Next up was body-weight leveraging equipment (57 percent), foam rollers and small balls (89 percent), kettlebells (49 percent), and stability balls (90 percent).

Sandy Todd Webster, editor in chief for the association’s journal, said balance training is something people are doing to stay fit for everyday activities.

“It’s both a move toward functional training for practical life movements (getting grocery bags out of the back of your car while holding a squiggling 3 year old) and the influence of our aging population,” Todd Webster wrote in an email to SNEWS. “In both examples, balance is essential to avoid injury and maintain—even excel—at the activities our clients love.”

Having good balance, Todd Webster said, helps prevent people from injuries like broken hips and makes it easier for people to stay active as they get older. 

Get some leverage

Equipment like the TRX Suspension Trainers, Gravity Training Systems (GTS), climbing ladders, ropes, and push-up and pull-down devices are also hitting a trend now too.

Todd Webster said old-school exercises like push-ups and pull-ups are convenient because one can do them anywhere, and new body leverage-training equipment provides consumers with more ways to do trusted old-school exercises – plus they’re portable, too.

“Body leverage training equipment simply expands the menu of things you can do with body weight to a dizzying array of exercises,” Todd Webster said. “This also makes it fun and interesting for both client and fitness pro, which keeps both parties fresh and engaged in training.” 

Judging the future

Todd Webster said she thinks body leverage training equipment will continue to grow in popularity, and as far as programming, she predicts circuit-style boot camps, dance exercises and exercises that help people train for marathons and triathlons will rise.

Among the trainers and instructors who responded, 69 percent still offered elliptical machines; 68 percent still offered treadmills; and 53 percent still offered stair climbers. The survey noted usage of all traditional equipment except indoor rowing machines has declined.

The survey had responses from 148 business and program director members and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

–Ana Trujillo