Work It Out — Fold-away gyms could be poised for big things in the fitness marketplace.

Trends: Strength -- With their compact designs, fold-away home gyms are gaining steam and could be the wave of the future.

They’re sleek, compact and multi-functional. An entire workout center that folds up neatly into its own cabinet, and looks good enough to sit in the living room.

After years of fits and starts, at least a half-dozen U.S. and foreign companies are now marketing fold-away gyms—workout centers that fold up, fold in, and tuck away into corners and behind doors or walls. Whether they’re poised to revolutionize the fitness industry, as backers have said they hope, has yet to be seen. But it appears it’s a trend that’s gaining steam.

Some critics said they worry that the ergonomics of the machines lag behind the aesthetics, making users possibly more vulnerable to injury. And given the strong economic headwinds currently facing retailers, it’s a tough time to be unveiling a new product. But manufacturers said the streamlined units offer the perfect combination of form and function.

“Having worked in retail for many years, you’d have a husband and wife come in: The husband would want the biggest, baddest machine out there. The wife would go, ‘Where do you think you’re putting that thing?’” said Murray Strand, who designed the Murphy Gym for Superior Fitness Equipment Manufacturing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in Canada. About his creation, he, of course, added, “Now here’s a machine that offers the best of both worlds.”…

Click here to download the magazine Trends PDF from the 2008 SNEWS Fitness magazine: “Work It Out” — With their compact aesthetics, fold-away gyms could be poised for big things in the fitness marketplace.