Harley Pasternak: Four Fantastic, Fun Fitness Toys

04/09/2014 at 01:23 PM ET

Harley Pasternak
Courtesy Harley Pasternak

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the largest fitness convention in the U.S., the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association trade show. The IHRSA, held in San Diego, is definitely the place to be if you’re searching for all of the latest and greatest fitness gadgets, exercise equipment and any fat-burning machine you can think of.

I’ve been attending the show for nearly 20 years, and remember when fitness innovations like the elliptical, arc trainer and spin cycles were first introduced over the IHRSA weekend.

This year, with 371 exhibitors to visit, I was hoping to find something exciting to buy for my studio that would get my clients excited. While most of these pieces are designed for commercial settings (health club quality — and pricey), some of them have more affordable, residential versions that might be a nice addition to your home gym. Here are some of my favorite new products hitting the market:

The Helix workout gearCourtesy The Helix

The Helix
The Helix is sort of like an elliptical, but it moves side to side (rather than forward and back), thus blasting the inner/outer thighs, hips, butt and even your obliques (love handles). I love this machine! Not only can you do regular cardio on it, I also tried getting in the plank position with my feet on the floor and my hands on the pedals — and my abs are still hurting.

Cybex Eagle Strength EquipmentCourtesy Cybex

Cybex Eagle Strength Equipment
One of the better-known names in fitness equipment, Cybex, debuted its revamped Eagle strength equipment. The 12-piece lineup, available this spring, has finishings that look like they belong in a Porsche Turbo: Intuitive placards illustrate proper use and movement, instructional videos (standard and advanced) can be accessed via QR code and mobile app, and a smartphone/tablet holder has been added to allow for on-machine viewing.

Life Fitness SYNRGY BlueSkyCourtesy Life Fitness

Life Fitness’s SYNRGY BlueSky
Think of it like a jungle gym for adults! Introduced at IHRSA, SYNRGY BlueSky is designed specifically for outdoor use and offers 12 bodyweight training stations for exercisers. I tried it during the show and felt it in all the right places the next day.

Brewers Ledge LaddermillCourtesy Brewers Ledge

Brewers Ledge Laddermill
This thing is so cool! It’s literally a giant aluminum ladder that never, ever, ever ends. Using your back muscles, arms, abs and legs, your heart rate soars as you slowly climb your way to lean and mean. Users can vary the speed and the angle of the wall to change the difficulty. Built-in auto-stop technology provides safe workouts, too.

Tell me: Which piece of equipment excites you the most?

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms


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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Anonymous on

Ummm….I don’t have $500 to $1500. I guess I’ll use a kettlebell and have better results with a single, simple tool.

Suz on

^ Ditto. When the headline said “toys” I assumed it would be something simply and cheap. Guess you only get to play with fun fitness toys if you can afford them.

Marie on

If I were going to spend this kind of money, I’d invest in a home gym – Power cage, olympic bar, weights, and a bench. Pretty much all set with that and my bicycle and running. No need for a ladder machine!

Anonymous on

Out of my price range. How about toys the average person could afford.

Guest on

So what you’re saying is my 15 yr old treadmill and 3lb weights can’t hang with the cool kids…

Lori on

“Toys” in the title is misleading. Should say “Gym equipment”