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great strides
Although industry veterans may attest that it only feels like yesterday, 2010 marks the 15th
anniversary of the launch of the world’s fi rst Elliptical Fitness Cross Trainer™ – the Precor EFX544.
oday, elliptical trainers are a scientifi c and technological principles to
staple part of virtually Miller’s initial concept. History and
also in 1995...
every gym and form the hindsight now tell us that the launch of
basis of workout routines the fi rst cross trainer was an inspired

Toy Story – the fi rst ever wholly
for millions of users move, however, in the early 1990s, computer generated fi lm – is
worldwide. However, one of the most signifi cant challenges lay ahead before the released.
signifi cant developments in the world of product could be brought to market.

Ebay is founded.
commercial health and fi tness had rather After all, concept is one thing, but

Steve Fossett becomes the fi rst
humble beginnings. American designer successful execution is quite another. person to make a solo fl ight across
Larry D. Miller sought a solution that The Precor design team studied the the Pacifi c Ocean in a hot air balloon.
would enable his daughter, a junior needs of potential users, researching

DVD – the optical disc storage
athlete, to enjoy a good, weight-bearing areas such as stride lengths and rotations, media format – is launched.
workout, without the impact inherently to understand how a broad member
associated with running. demographic could benefi t from using the
After initially fi lming his daughter machine. The mechanical elegance of offered a quick route to high visibility
running alongside the family car, Larry Larry Miller’s rear fl ywheel design and sales momentum, but instant
returned home, and repeatedly replayed concept was at the very heart of the exposure to the demanding commercial
the video in slow motion on the family’s machine’s smooth, rhythmical motion. arena was also not without risk. The
television – meticulously tracing her Therefore, throughout the development Precor designers would need to
footpath. He then set about designing a process the design team never lost sight accomplish the feat of transforming a
machine that could mimic the stride of the importance of maintaining a sense basic prototype into a robust end
motion as closely as possible. The of natural movement, which would product which would not only capture
elliptical fi tness trainer concept was born. provide a consistently smooth and fl uid the imagination of a highly discerning
workout experience for a variety of users. market, but would also stand up to the
putting science in motion One of the most innovative rigours of a commercial gym.
After reaching a licensing agreement with breakthroughs during product
the inventor, Precor set about applying development was the introduction of a unique offering
patented adjustable ramp, the While the development challenges were
CrossRamp. Research established that many, the opportunity for an innovative
different ramp angles placed more new entrant was evident. By 1995, bikes,
emphasis on the various muscles of the treadmills and stair climbers were the
lower body. High ramp angles were stalwarts of any respectable fi tness facility,
proven to work areas such as the upper but none offered the cross trainer’s
hamstrings and glutes, whilst lower angles enticing blend of stride-based
targeted muscles including the quads and cardiovascular and resistance training. Jim
lower hamstrings. The adjustable Birrell managed the Precor design team
CrossRamp feature added a new during that period and vividly remembers
dimension – by exercising a variety of leg the formative years of the EFX544: “The
muscle groups – and set the product in a EFX offered so many attractive qualities,
class apart, as a true cross trainer, rather smooth, fl uid motion, a weight-bearing
than simply just an elliptical machine. exercise without the impact, and a lower
Precor then made a bold decision: to perceived exertion level than the
launch the EFX544 into the commercial treadmill – it had it all.”
market. Such a strategy had rarely been Regardless of many clear merits, the
adopted before, with new types of fate of the EFX544 lay fi rmly in the hands
fi tness machines traditionally being of the user when it launched in 1995.
fi rstly tested on the home user market. Deservedly for Precor, the EFX’s star
The commercial market certainly rose quickly, and shone brightly. Jim
recalls: “Gym owners and other buyers
Broad appeal The EFX series remains liked the motion but, as with any new
a fi rm favourite in clubs worldwide. product, they bought one or two initially,
6 Read Health Club Management online march 2010 © cybertrek 2010
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