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The new face of fitness.

Innovative programs, computerized equipment, and cutting-edge technology are launching a new age of exercise as we enter the 21st century.

Fitness has come a long way since Sears, Roebuck and Company at the turn of the century advertised the Rational Body Brace that "removes the cause of all weakness and forms a natural support for every organ of the body," the Peerless Vapor Bath Cabinet, guaranteed to melt the lard out at a retail price of $2.95, and the Heidelberg Electric Belt, which administered a choice of voltage levels to sensitive body areas, offering "a quick cure of all nervous and organic disorder arising from any cause whatever."

The "good old days" paved the way for the advances in fitness equipment and techniques that are now available to all of us.

And none too soon.

In old comic-book ads, Charles Atlas' 98-pound weakling" got sand kicked in his face--if you'll remember--and embarked on a bodybuilding program. Thousands picked up on Atlas' advice about working out, yet most people considered musclemen to be rowing with one oar and weak between the ears. Then science stepped in to confirm that aerobic exercise and resistance training are not just for the musclebound; such training can benefit everyone.

Today, iron-pumpers and Reebok-thumpers range in age from 10 to 90 and beyond, and former 98-pound weaklings can be found kicking up sand during daily workouts along the beach.

Some fitness advocates subscribe to the theory that moderate exercise is the key to health, while others believe only strenuous activity paves the way to a longer life. "No pain, no gain" echoes the credo for gung-ho grunters climbing toward the pinnacle of fitness. But "easy does it" fits more comfortably into others' lifestyles.

Experts tell us the benefits of exercise are roughly equivalent to the time and effort we put into the regimen. One thing is certain; we won't benefit at all unless, as the sneaker ads say, we just do it!"

Fitness today is a multibillion-dollar industry, catering to our ever-changing tastes in fitness needs and appetite for variety. No longer are we faced with the bleak prospect of relentless iron-pumping, mindless pedaling, or body-wrenching jogging. With computerization, the fitness lifestyle is even taking on a life of its own. You can cycle through the mountains, in-line skate in Central Park, and keep track of your progress like a specialist, right in the comfort of your own home.

If you've fallen behind on the highway to fitness, check out some of the latest exercise equipment, designed to pick you up, stretch you out, pump you up, monitor your pulse, and put you back onto the road to well-being.

Fitness for the Over-50

Every city and most small towns have at least one gym. A peek inside the brightly lit facility loaded with barbells and shiny workout stations reveals a youthful crowd of well-toned, healthy twentysomethings and an occasional older member pacing their way through a "one-size-fits-all" standardized program.

MaxLife focuses on the fitness needs of athletes aged 45 to 84. Specifically, the Maxlife program, which uses Universal Equipment stations, designs individualized routines to address each members' needs and goals. The well-structured training programs address the singular physical concerns of older adults.

Posture, flexibility, strength, range of motion, and muscle tone are key factors that play a major role in the frequent aches and pains older adults experience--often the result of inactivity.

At the core of the MaxLife Fitness Program are 12 Universal Crossline Circuit machines that provide resistance exercise and add an aerobic component to each workout for total-body conditioning. Initially, participants lift only 40 percent of their maximum capability; eventually, they'll be able to train within their target heart rate zone to achieve maximum aerobic benefit with minimum risk.

For more information, call 800-843-3906 or 319-365-7561.

A Corner Gym for Your Den

You've worked all day, right? It's well past 7:00 p.m. Staying in shape is important to you, if only the gym were a little closer or you didn't have that extra work to catch up on tonight. Many people share your predicament. Often, that extra push to get to the gym just can't be summoned up. You begin to miss workouts; pretty soon, working out becomes a chore you just don't do.

What if the gym were just feet away? Vectra Fitness brings the gym to your doorstep. Long recognized as an industry leader in the design of quality home gyms, Vectra is breaking new ground with the unveiling of the C-1 home gym.

Affordable and compact, the C-1 offers a complete gym facility in the convenience of your home at a competitive price. Shoulder shrugs, presses, squats, calf-raises, sit-ups, dips, and lying-down leg curls--a total body workout, minus that long trip to the gym, can be achieved on this all-in-one workout station.

Price: starting at $1,995

For more information, call 800-283-2872.

Burning Up Calories

Take the guesswork out of how many calories you burned up doing such and such activity for so many minutes at this and that speed.

Thanks to the people at Muscle Dynamics, there's a simple, accurate way to keep track of how many calories you've burned. The product is called, appropriately, Caltrac. It is a powerful, beeper-size minicomputer that attaches neatly to your waistband. You can wear it around the house to see how many calories you burn making the beds, cutting the grass, shoveling snow, or working in the garden--not to mention its obvious use in keeping track of calories expended during aerobic exercises. Caltrac comes with a 15-minute video that explains the ABC's of the program, as well as a fitness guide, calorie-content guide, and an instructional manual.

Price: $89.95

For more information, call 1-800-5-CALTRAC.

Walking On Air

If you're convinced that walking is good for you but worried about stress injuries to your bones, the ProForm Air Walker from ICON Health & Fitness might be a perfect solution. The nonimpact Air Walker offers a smooth, rhythmic motion that provides an effective, nonjarring aerobic workout. Upper and lower body muscle movement is increased for total body conditioning, and there's even an adjustable dial resistance to control personal workout,intensity while providing an effective way to stretch the body's muscles, increasing flexibility. You'll feel like you're "walking on air" while getting your daily workout at the same time!

Price: $299.00

For more information, call 800-727-9777.

High-tech In-Line Skating

Heavy traffic, not to mention scraped knees and elbows on rough pavement, has dissuaded many from joining the in-line skating craze--a trend with a following of more than ten million. Now, Nautilus has come to the rescue with its newest high-tech machine, which simulates in-line skating right down to the scenery. The Nautilus Skate Machine makes in-line skating easy; it's also the only cardio-vascular machine that offers lateral, rather than linear, movement.

This new movement allows one to exercise both the inner and outer thighs while toning the legs and buttocks and keeping the cardiovascular system in pace. The machine is equipped with a computer that provides continuous monitoring of such vital statistics as calories burned per hour, miles skated, speed, time elapsed, and strides per minute. With 42 courses and 9 effort levels to choose from, you'll enjoy the state-of-the-art computer graphics that allow users to race through Central Park, Venice Beach, and other well-known skating locales.

Price: $3,195.00

For more information, call 704-875-1798.

The Floor That Gives You an Edge

Fitness starts from the ground up, and what you have underfoot is of prime importance, according to the Sport Court company, which has designed suspended flooring that provides "lateral forgiveness" and "vertical cushion." What does this do? The company says it enhances your performance, whether in basketball, tennis, soccer, or ice hockey. This floor takes trauma away from knees, ankles, back, and joints-and gives you great traction. Different types of flooring come in modular squares that can be easily installed in a home basketball or tennis court. A variety of designer colors range from bright red to silver to teal. For athletes of all ages and abilities.

Price: from $12,000

For more information, call 800-421-8112.

A Thoreau-ly Modern Treadmill

Naturalist-writer Henry David Thoreau believed that walking outdoors was the best all-around exercise. But even he must have blanched at the thought of hiking through the woods at minus two degrees, or in torrential rain or searing heat. Too bad he isn't around to enjoy the WalkFit 5500 treadmill. A University of Wisconsin study concluded that walking on a nonmotorized treadmill bums an average 53 percent more calories than ordinary walking or using a motorized treadmill. The nonmotorized, total-body version also provides a superior cardiovascular workout. WalkFit by Nordic comes in four total-body machines with both upper- and lower-body resistance that exercise more muscle groups, the body's primary calorie-burning source.

Price: $499 - $599 (depending on features)

For more information, call 1-800-528-3088.

Anti-jarring Shoes

When it comes to subtlety, the inventors of Exerlopers could care less. These totally new, guaranteed-to-attract-notice boots absorb the stress-related injuries experienced by many joggers. Mounted on elliptical springs, Exerlopers delay the impact with the ground, thereby greatly reducing the jarring impact on your bones, muscles, and tendons. Additionally, you can use the Exerlopers to exercise indoors on a flat surface. The space-age appearance of the shoes may draw attention at first, but lifelong joggers, sidelined by shin splints or tom cartilage, will be grateful for a new way to exercise while enjoying the sport they love.

Price: $189.00

For more information, call Unique Life & Fitness Products Inc. at 800-463-5470.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Saturday Evening Post Society
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:new equipment and activities
Publication:Saturday Evening Post
Date:Jan 1, 1996
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