Product Reviews: XTrainer, Strength Series, T3X Treadmill, G2 Quick Circuit, Wood Flooring and Flecks Rubber Flooring

Reviews of XTrainer by SportsArt Fitness, Strength Series by SportsArt Fitness, T3X Treadmill by Matrix Fitness, G2 Quick Circuit by Matrix Fitness, Wood Flooring and Flecks Rubber Flooring by Exerflex

SportsArt Fitness - XTrainer

The XTrainer is SportsArt's new contribution to the latest category in fitness equipment: the "cardio/strength machine" (or is it "strength/cardio" ?). Your members will be excited to know that university studies prove the XTrainer uses more calories than treadmills, elliptical trainers and stationary cycles at similar levels of perceived exertion. That means your members will use more calories without feeling like they're doing more work - an obvious motivator.

Additionally, in contrast to most elliptical trainers that move the arms and legs together in a four-way dependent pattern, with the XTrainer, lower-body resistance is independent of the upper body, and the arms are independent of each other. The arms also give both positive and negative resistance. The result is a greater training effect at what feels like less effort.

The most important innovation I noticed are the rotational handles. A common drawback to arm/handle designs in traditional ellipticals is that the handles aren't adjustable, despite the obvious fact that members don't come in one size, height, limb length or shoulder width. This discrepancy can lead to wrist, elbow, shoulder and back discomfort, or even injury. Not only are the XTrainer's adjustable handles simply more comfortable, they can also stimulate additional training effects, since studies show that changes in wrist extension, flexion, pronation and supination affect muscle recruitment patterns. There's more than mere adjustability to these handles, though. Fingertip control buttons let users make quick and easy resistance changes to upper-body resistance, lower-body resistance or both on the fly. All the while, the proprietary drive system delivers smooth and consistent resistance.

For even more comfort and a custom fit, the XTrainer also offers a patented reclining seat back that adjusts for any member, regardless of size.

Although the starting resistance is low enough for deconditioned users, the 20 available levels of resistance and a variety of programs, including Advanced Conditioning, are enough to challenge even elite athletes.

The control panel features easy-to-read, oversized LEDs with all the information needed to track exercisers' progress, including the CardioAdvisor, which displays users' current heart rate and target heart rate.

Product Details
Basic Specifications
Overall dimensions: 72 inches long by 32 inches wide by 47 inches high
User weight capacity: 450 pounds
Unit weight: 340 pounds Eddy-current resistance
Independent arms with positive and negative resistance
Fingertip controls for upper- and lower-body resistance
Welded steel frame
Electrostatically applied powdercoat finish
Automotive grade poly-v belt
Self-generating power supply
Readouts: Calories, distance, METs, calories per hour, watts, time, leg RPM, arm RPM
Programs: Random, Cardio/Weight Loss, Conditioning, Advanced Conditioning, Manual, Quick Start
Other features: CardioAdvisor, heart rate control

SportsArt Fitness - Strength Series

I have to confess, the SportsArt Strength Series line is just flat-out pretty. But don't let its good looks fool you - the oval tubing you notice right away doesn't just look great, it provides greater structural integrity and strength than rectangular tubing. Even the contoured and bolstered cushions feel like the bucket seats of a sports car, and are reinforced in key areas for additional durability. Simple-to-operate gas-assisted seats makes adjustments easy, safe and secure. Precision bushings, Kevlar reinforced belts, and deep-channel, internally lubricated pulleys with sealed bearing centers ensure a smooth, consistent feel for years to come.

All range limiters, ROMs and seat adjustments are color-coded for quick visibility and ease of use. Any member can easily figure out how to make the proper seat, pad and ROM adjustments. They may, however, have a little mental struggle getting used to the 3- and 6-pound integrated incremental weights. (Of course, two increments at 3 and 6 pounds makes more sense than one increment at 5 pounds, but most of us have an illogical, emotional attachment to the number 5.)

Though at first it may seem like minutiae, if you've been in the fitness business as long as I have, you'll appreciate the magnetic selector pins that stay not only in the vicinity of the machine, but remain secure in the weight stack, too. Other specific outstanding features in the line include rotating handles that reduce wrist stress on the independent shoulder press, and a leg extension that allows users to reach not only the range limiter, but even adjust the tibia pad from the seated position.

The leg press provides a 1:2 ratio, so users get up to 440 pounds of resistance, yet the weight stack is only 220 pounds - much easier to move if you change your equipment layout or simply want to do more thorough cleaning. The leg press also has an intelligently angled ramp that more closely resembles the squatting path of motion.

The featured independent chest press is a great example of the attention to detail throughout the line. Like several of the other upper-body pieces, the chest press has independent arm resistance so a user's dominant arm can't dominate the movement, as with a barbell or standard chest press design.

Though the multi-position handles provide training variety, users should be sure to adjust their seat accordingly. Both handles are comfortably angled, which eases elbow stress.

The independent chest press also uses comfortable and biomechanically superior converging arcs for a more natural path of motion, more effective muscle recruitment and pain-free joints.

Product Details
Basic Specifications for the Independent Chest Press (A915)
Overall dimensions: 55 inches long by 67 inches wide by 78 inches high
Stack weight: 220 pounds, 100 kg
Commercial warranty: 10 years frame, five years weight stacks, three years cables/belts, three years bearings, three years other parts, one year grips, six months upholstery, one year enclosure

Matrix Fitness Systems - T3X Treadmill

The outstanding feature of the Matrix T3X treadmill is something you probably won't even see: a proprietary Ultimate Hard-Wax Deck System that uses wax with a melting point three times higher than a conventional waxed deck. This is important for three major reasons. First, because the wax doesn't migrate from the walking/running area the way typical wax does, the deck and belt last significantly longer. Second, other critical components last longer due to a lower-amp draw resulting from reduced friction. And last, the deck requires no maintenance because the Hard Wax doesn't migrate, so you'll never have to reapply it. If that's not enough, the belt is reversible, so you can literally double its life simply by flipping it over.

The T3X comes with an extra roomy 22-inch-wide belt and 60-inch deck that's sure to make your members feel more secure and mentally comfortable. For purely physical comfort, the cushioning system uses the proprietary VCT "Variable Compression Technology" with eight different stabilizing elastomers.

The vibrant 7-inch blue backlit screen is easy to read and gives feedback on time, speed, distance, calories, pace, incline, heart rate, level and profile with on-the-fly program changes.

On the business side, the Matrix T3X has a full club warranty without daily hour limitations, like some comparable treadmills.

Product Details
Basic Specifications
Overall dimensions: 84 inches long by 34 inches wide by 56 inches high
Step-up height: 7 inches
Shipping weight: 395 pounds
Motor: 3.0 HP JID DC motor
Motor control system: DCI Club treadmill AC drive
Speed range: 5 to 12 miles per hour
Elevation range: 0 to 12 percent
Running surface: 20 by 60 inches
User capacity: 400 pounds
Deck suspension: Ultimate Hard Wax deck
Cushion system: Variable Compression Technology (VCT) with eight cushions
Deck: Reversible
Belt: Habisat
Readouts: Time, speed, distance, calories, pace, incline, heart rate, level, profile
Other: Hand pulse, telemetric receiver

Matrix Fitness - G2 Quick Circuit

After market research indicated too many people didn't exercise because they find equipment options too intimidating, Matrix Fitness Systems simplified fitness training by creating a 28-minute circuit with 12 selectorized resistance-training machines and four cycles. The circuit fits comfortably into a space as small as 20-by-40 feet, and is straightforward enough for members to master after only one session with a staff member.

More specifically, the Matrix G2 Quick Circuit consists of four Matrix U5X upright cycles, 12 Matrix selectorized strength stations arranged in a pattern that alternates upper- and lower-body exercises, and a Circuit Light. To make promoting your new circuit program easier, Matrix offers a promotional marketing support packet.

The G2 Quick Circuit starts with a five-minute warm-up on the bike, followed by one minute of work on each selectorized station, with one minute of rest in between stations. The circuit ends with a five-minute cool-down on a bike. (My math says that's a 33-minute workout, not 28 as advertised. Still, it's shorter, more efficient and more effective than what most of your members are currently doing.)

Unlike some circuits in which poorly designed machines are thrown together haphazardly, these Matrix resistance machines have numerous features you and your members will appreciate. Graphics and instructions describing proper use and targeted muscle groups are clearly visible from the exercise position. Since the circuit is easy to learn, members can feel comfortable going through the circuit on their own, using just the highly detailed instructional placards.

All pivots, seats and adjusts are color-coded and easy to see. Adjustments are quick and simple, with spring-loaded mechanisms that offer one-handed operation from the exercise position. All machines come with range limiters to adjust starting ROM as necessary, so virtually all of your members can take advantage of each piece, despite any flexibility or mobility issues they might have. Most important, the range limiters are easily accessible from the exercise position. Each machine in the line has its own bottle and towel holder.

As an owner or manager, you'll appreciate how the self-lubricating weight stack bushings with Teflon inner bushings optimize lubrication and cut down on friction and maintenance. You'll also notice how the three-point design and neoprene bumpers of the weight stacks absorb noise and keep your weight room quiet and less intimidating.

And don't forget the bikes. They're not just for warming up and cooling down - although the low starting workload make them ideal for this purpose in the circuit. They can also be used for beginning, rehab or deconditioned members. These are full-featured cycles with programs that include Intervals, Rolling, Fat Burn, Random, Target Heart Rate and Constant Watts. The racing-influenced handles with padded elbow rests and the air-cushioned contoured seat combine for a comfortable ride whether members are using it as part of the circuit or as part of an all-out cardio workout.

Exerflex - Wood Flooring

If you're like me, exercise flooring is probably the last thing you think about when designing your fitness center or studio. But that's a mistake. Not enough owners and managers ever consider their floors until it's too late.

Though there are many similar-looking sports flooring systems on the market that simply modify basketball or racquetball floors, Exerflex wood flooring is designed specifically for group exercise. What makes this flooring unique is that each board in the floor reacts independently - each board flexes individually because they're held together with clips. A shock-absorbing pad below the wood surface cushions members even more. So each exerciser gets all the shock absorption they need, no matter what their neighbor may be doing.

Though most hardwood flooring surfaces can be nearly impossible to move, you can move this floor just as quickly and easily as you installed it. Since Exerflex is free-floating and not held down with any type of permanent fasteners to the existing subfloor, you don't have to worry if you decide to move it. Exerflex is so easy to install, you could do it yourself, yet the company can provide factory-trained installers, as well.

Exerflex comes prefinished, so you don't have to apply finish to the floor after installation. And Exerflex isn't laminated like similar-looking flooring. It's 7/8 inches of solid hardwood. If you wish, you can sand it and refinish it easily to maintain that "like-new" look. This flooring is easy to maintain. A daily dust mopping and weekly damp mopping is all the maintenance your floor will need for years.

Exerflex meets or exceeds all of the DIN standards for group exercise flooring categories, including shock absorption, deformation upon impact, deformation isolation and foot stability. DIN (loosely, "Deutsche Industrial Norms" ) refers to a set of standards governing quality control and performance for numerous products, including group exercise flooring.

Exerflex - Flecks Rubber Flooring

Sure, you may need special flooring for your group exercise area, but what about the rest of your fitness center? Rubber flooring is popular and enduring because it is easy to install, hides dirt and has a virtually seamless appearance. Flecks is a speckled rubber flooring available in either interlocking tiles, square tiles or rolls in any length. They are available in either 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch thicknesses, with color flecks ranging from 10 to up to 50 percent. Double the wear life of Flecks rubber flooring simply by flipping it over (provided you use a carpet tape or loose-lay method).

The flooring comes in a choice of four standard colors (blue, green, gray and red) and/or two designer colors (eggshell and a blue/gray mix). You can create custom colors for an additional charge with minimum quantities. For branding and a personalized touch, you can add your logo to Flecks tiles or Flecks interlocks for an additional charge. All of the Flecks products carry a five-year warranty.

Product Details
Basic Specifications
Rolls: 3 or 4 feet by any specified length loose-laid, carpet taped or glued
Tiles: 3 by 3 feet or 4 by 4 feet carpet taped or glued
Interlocking: 35 by 35 inches loose-laid, carpet taped or glued
Colors: Blue, red, green, gray, blue/gray combination and eggshell from 10 to 50 percent; custom colors available with minimum purchase requirements
Thickness: 1/4-, 5/6- and 3/8-inch (1/2-inch available on special order only)
Weight: Approximately 2 pounds per square foot for 3/8-inch
Chemical resistance: Unaffected by most acids and chlorine
Warranty: Five-year limited warranty against manufacturer's defects
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