Gym Owner Monthly
Every so often, the status quo shifts. It just has in the gym, Greg Rhodes reports.
Spinning is a world phenomenon now. Thousands of gyms run classes across the UK and abroad but it wasn’t always so.
When Polaris unleashed the Schwinn fitness brand in Britain in the late ‘80s, the equipment distributor pioneered a style of gym cycling that would transform the exercise landscape – eventually.
The indoor cycling programme developed by South African professional cyclist Johnny G exploded on to the fitness sector in a whirl of wheeling, high energy routines and inspirational instruction – of which he was the unrivalled master.
Though difficult to grasp now, Spinning took its time to change the mindset of gym operators. “When I saw Spinning in the US, I knew it was a must for Britain,” recalls Graham Taylor, the then managing director of Polaris.
“Despite a high-powered marketing campaign to launch it here, operators and owners were initially cautious of an untried concept that would take up valuable floor space in the gym.”
Eighteen months would elapse before the floodgates opened, as they did for another UK-first rolled out by Polaris – the Schwinn Airdyne, with its iconic `big fanwheel`, and the Bowflex home gym.
Taylor went on to dominate the marketplace with the innovative machines, later introducing other leading brands such as Trotter and Bodyguard and forming his On Site Fitness e-commerce business.
Still alert to tomorrow’s trends, Taylor is once again opening the doors of fitness innovation on what is a forgotten corner of gym provision – cable equipment handles.
Now at the helm of GRYPiT Ltd, he and a development team have spent the last couple of years perfecting a selection of gym handles to suit every requirement of pulley systems.
A world away from traditional steel bars and handles, the GRYPiT® robust, polymer moulded range reshapes thinking about role and function.
The first products off the UK production line - triceps and biceps bars, lat pulldown, crossover handles and rower handle – all carry a common quality.
They ensure the hands are correctly aligned in the `neutral` position when training to help reduce risk of stress-induced conditions such as carpel tunnel syndrome, lessen likelihood of grip fatigue and promote improved performance.
“I was keen to test the handles independently before going public,” Taylor explains, “and put them in the hands of biomechanical and movement specialists, PTs and the general public."
“The universal feedback was that GRYPiT® handles brought a fresh dimension to training with pulley systems and were safer in use than traditional bars and handles because they channel the hands into the correct position for optimal work, reducing the risk of potentially debilitating conditions.”
Those responses proved the trigger for Taylor to go into full production. Sets are already out there, in operator Edinburgh Leisure sites across the Scottish capital, in JD Gyms and DW Fitness as word spreads about something truly game-changing in the fitness environment.
“The fitness sector has looked at just about every aspect of gym provision except handles,” states Taylor. “I believe it will not be too long before operators and owners recall what their pulley equipment was like before and think: `Why have we waited so long for this.”
Sometimes the obvious is all it needs to change the game.