Product Reviews: Cybex V43 Strength & LCX 425T Treadmill

Star Trac Elite CrossTrainer & Pro Stepper; Cybex VR3 Strength & LCX 425T Treadmill

Star Trac -- Elite CrossTrainer

STAR TRAC INVESTED two years of research and development, and had hundreds of user tests, 60 specific product requirements and 35 prototypes before releasing its Elite CrossTrainer, designed in conjunction with BMW Group DesignworksUSA.

The most outstanding feature in the Elite is SelectFit, an innovative system that's the first to integrate strength training into a cardio machine. With a push of a button, the user can choose a pulling upper-body motion to focus on the back and biceps, or a pushing upper-body motion to isolate the chest and triceps. Users can also disengage the upper-body arm motion to concentrate solely on moving their lower body. This can be a great bonus for older or new exercisers who need to start with a little less intensity.

With traditional ellipticals, the upper-body motion depends on the lower-body motion. The arms of the machine move along with the pedals regardless of the amount of force (or lack thereof) users provide with their upper body. SelectFit makes the Elite the first machine that allows users to vary their upper-body workout throughout the exercise.

A common problem with ellipticals is that the relatively wide spacing of the pedals can lead to motion that is uncomfortable, at best, and injury-inducing, at worst. The Elite's 3-inch pedal spacing helps minimize stress on users' hips and back, and keeps their strides more comfortable and natural.

High-tech users will appreciate the Elite's Pro Partner technology, which allows them to download and monitor their workout with a Palm-powered handheld to track and log workout speed, heart rate, calories burned and distance.

One of the more convenient features is a rear step platform and a 5-inch step-up height, which make getting on and off the machine safer and more comfortable. In addition, the large, cushioned Soft Trac shoes eliminate the common complaint of numb feet from using an elliptical.

The Elite Cross Trainer makes it easy to stay motivated with a console that gives users constant feedback of time, strides per minute, heart rate, course profile, resistance level and a quarter-mile track display.

product details

overall dimensions: 70 inches long by 27 inches wide by 67 inches high
overall weight: 450 pounds
user weight capacity: 350 pounds
pedal size: 17.6 inches long by 8 inches wide, open-ended
distance between pedals: 3 inches
step-up height: 5 inches
electrical: Self-contained power supply, no external power needed
resistance: 20 levels of intensity

readouts: 16-character message window; Dedicated: time, strides per minute, heart rate, course profile, resistance level, quarter­mile track display; Scrolling: total calories, calories per hour, watts, distance, speed, METs, heart rate, Total Body Workout
standard features: Personal cooling fan, Soft Trac pedals, dedicated heart rate display, upper-body motion with SelectFit technology, entertainment ready, FitLinxx certified
heart rate monitoring: Polar Telemetry and Contact Heart Rate System

wireless data transfer: Pro Partner technology communicates via infrared (IR) beam with Palm OS software

Star Trac -- Pro Stepper

THE FIRST things users will notice about Star Trac's Pro Stepper are the ergonomically designed grip bars running the full length of the machine, and the Aero bar wrapping around the top of the display. This unique curve safely accommodates users of various shapes and sizes, and is the result of careful analysis of hand and body positions of stepper users. No longer will users have to contort their backs and shoulders in order to find a comfortable grip. That should save them from back pain and keep them exercising longer -- and actually get results.

But perhaps the most defining feature of the Pro Stepper is the wide variety of motivational workout programs. In addition to the fairly standard Quick Start, Fat Burner, Multi-Stage Fitness Test and two heart rate programs, the Pro Stepper adds Famous Steps and two muscle-specific workout programs. Famous Steps lets users scale nine different landmarks from around the world, including the Eiffel Tower, the Great Pyramid and the Empire State Building. The Glute Sculptor and Thigh Toner programs let users target specific muscle groups.

The console is made for comfort with a personal fan, extra-large bottle holder and utility tray. Extra-large buttons let users move smoothly through up to 20 levels of intensity. With constant feedback on elapsed time, floors climbed, heart rate, course profile and resistance level, along with a track display, the Pro Stepper gives users continuous motivation. They can get scrolling performance feedback in six categories, and constant telemetric heart rate monitoring.

The oversized Soft Trac pedals with safety rims let even the most vigorous user feel safe and secure at any speed. At the same time, these same features make even deconditioned or post-rehab members comfortable and stable. Another safety and comfort feature is the rear step platform, for a safe, balanced entry to the low 4-inch step-up height.

Since the Pro Stepper was completely redesigned with the same look of the Pro Series cycles, cross trainers and treadmills, a new Pro Stepper will fit right in with the look and feel of a facility's current design if it already has (or plans to get) more Pro Series equipment.

product details

overall dimensions: 46 inches long by 39 inches wide by 72 inches high
overall weight: 210 pounds (95.3 kg.)
user weight capacity: 350 pounds (159 kg.)
pedal size: 13 inches long by 6.35 inches wide, open-ended (33.02 by 16.13 cm)
distance between pedals: 2 inches (5.1 cm)
step range of motion: 16 inches (41 cm), independent stepping action
electrical: Self-contained power supply, no external power needed
certification: UL/CSA or CE
resistance: 20 levels of intensity

readouts: 16-character message window; Dedicated: time, floors climbed, heart rate, course profile, resistance level, motivation track display; Scrolling: total calories, calories per hour, watts, distance, speed, METs
programs: Eight programs, including Famous Steps, Quick Start, Glute Sculptor, Thigh Toner, Fat Burner, Multi-Stage Fitness Test, Dynamic Heart Rate Control and Constant Heart Rate Control
heart rate monitoring: Polar Telemetry and Contact Heart Rate System
standard features: Personal cooling fan, Soft Trac pedals, Aero Bar over display, dedicated heart rate display, entertainment ready, FitLinxx certified

Cybex -- VR3 Strength

THE VR3 is the latest in the line of resistance-training equipment from Cybex, and it features several biomechanical advances. Most of the pieces use an Easy Seat base, which is an enclosed seat base adjustment design with a gas spring assist. This lets users adjust their seat height without leaving the machine; they can do it with just one hand.

Another innovative feature is the patent-pending technology of the Range Limiting Device (available on the leg extension, seated leg curl and back extension). Limiting the range of motion of the exercise can help keep users with knee or back issues within a safer range of motion for their particular situations. Cybex' Range Limiting Device keeps the force curve consistent, regardless of the range users choose. In traditional machines that provide range limiters, this was once considered impossible. This means, regardless of the position users select, their starting position will always match the appropriate position on the cam. So the machine always provides more resistance where users are stronger, and less resistance where they're weaker.

Users will also love the greater and more comfortable range of motion of the Dependent Converging (in the Chest and Overhead Press) and Diverging Movement Technology (in the Row). These arcing movements more naturally replicate human motion, stimulate the target muscles more and minimize stress at the joint.

The weight stacks of all VR3 pieces are shrouded and completely enclosed for maximal safety. And say goodbye to the "half plates" that tend to disappear, or "donuts" that are never around when users need them. The patent-pending Second Generation Twist Select Increment Weight System lets users quickly and easily adjust their resistance 5 pounds at a time, with just a turn of a knob.

Innovations in individual pieces include the Seated Leg Curl with its offset input arm. This design lets users adjust the shin pad without affecting the starting angle of their knee. Formerly, moving the shin pad meant greatly increasing the starting angle of the knee (which can mean trouble for many people). Also, the 100-degree angle of the back pad accommodates people with tight hamstrings.

The Row combines a floor-level pivot and a clever, unequal-length four-bar linkage that gives users a near linear path of motion as in a cable row, but with variable resistance that closely matches the body's strength throughout the range of motion. The floor level pivot keeps the machine's profile low, and more uniform with the look of the rest of the VR3 line.

The most original piece is the Abdominal, which uses a patent-pending pelvic stabilization system with an adjustable foot brace, allowing users to "lock into" the hip pad. This design (also used on the back extension) encourages the user's hip extensors to help stabilize their pelvis. Instead of forcing users to move their spine at a single point to mimic the single axis of most abdominal machines, this design lets them flex the spine naturally, and makes the abs work more, while working the hip flexors less. The specially shaped hip pad, with its curved lumbar section, gives users greater range of motion, while the innovative input design promotes safer, more effective form without complicated adjustments.

All the VR3 pieces use belt drives for smooth feel for your users, and less maintenance for your staff. Even the instructional placards on the side of each machine use easy-to-see high-contrast pictures, and easy-to-read straightforward directions.

Cybex -- LCX 425T Treadmill

IF YOUR facility is looking for a treadmill with a large running surface, but you don't have much space, the Cybex LCX 425T fits the bill. This small package boasts a commercial-sized (20 by 60 inches) running surface, while maintaining a compact footprint.

Beyond managing to fit so much in such a small space, the most outstanding innovation in this treadmill is the deck suspension system, called Intelligent Suspension 3. One of the challenges in treadmill deck design is making the deck soft enough to absorb the impact of running and landing, while keeping it firm enough for efficient and effective push-off. Most of the flex and shock absorption in the Intelligent Suspension 3 deck takes place at the point of impact. With traditional floating decks, however, the whole deck flexes (to some degree), and can give some runners a sense of instability. The Cybex LCX 425T's solid-steel construction, pulse-width modulation controller and 2.75-inch rollers combine for vibration-free workouts for all speeds -- up to and including the 11 miles-per-hour max.

The split-level console helps keep the user's accessories at hand, with a magazine rack, two water bottle holders and a CD/MP3 player holder. The handy upper display lets users select or scan between distance, total calories, calories per hour, METs, pace and heart rate, while the lower display provides time, incline and resistance level.

Users get variety from the array of programs available, including Pike's Peak; two Speed Interval programs; Hill Interval; Rolling Hills and Hills; in addition to the standard Quick Start, Manual, Heart Rate Control (with user-selectable target heart rate), Cardio and Weight Loss. Each program offers users 10 levels of both incline and resistance, and the live keyboard lets them change the program or settings or both without missing a stride. As an extra safety measure, each program provides a two-minute cool down to automatically reduce users' speed and elevation, and bring the heart rate back down toward resting levels.

product details

speed range: 0.5 mph to 11 mph
elevation range: 0 to 15 percent
running surface: 20 by 60 inches
maximum user weight: 350 pounds (181 kg)
deck suspension: Pivoting suspension system
dimensions: 72 inches long by 32 inches wide by 61 inches high
step-up height: 11 inches (28 cm)
motor: 3 HP PMDC
controller: Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) controller
rollers: 2.75-inch steel
deck: Heavy-duty, waxed phenolic surface on 1-inch medium density fiberboard; double-sided for double life
belt: Two-ply, polyester-backed belt with PVC top coat
frame construction: Welded main frame of primarily 11-gauge steel
machine weight: 320 pounds (145 kg)

design: Split level with magazine rack and tabs, dual water bottle holders and CD player/utility compartment
programming: Quick Start, Manual, Heart Rate Control (with user-selectable target heart rate), Speed Interval 1, Speed Interval 2, Cardio, Weight Loss, Hill Interval, Rolling Hills, Hills, Pike's Peak; programs have 10 levels and control both incline and resistance
cool-down feature: Provides a two-minute cool-down using reduced speed and elevation
information displayed: Upper display may scan or select between distance, total calories, calories per hour, METs, pace and heart rate, including multi-color indication of heart rate range; lower display shows time, incline and resistance level
heart rate monitoring: Contact and Polar (chest strap not included); display includes multi-color indication of heart rate range
connectivity: CSAFE (FitLinxx certification pending)
safety lanyard: Permanently attached lanyard with removable key
Stephen Holt, B.S.E., C.S.C.S., owns Stephen Holt Fitness Education. He can be reached at or 410 453-6295.
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