width=115IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) held their annual conference this month - a monster of an affair which draws the who's who of fitness equipment manufacturers, club owners and enthusiasts in general. Not surprisingly, computer-based fitness games and health data for the web stood out as big trends. One part irony, one part ingenuity, the health industry is using the very tools that are contributing to obesity to try and reverse the trend. For better or for worse, here's what's new and popular in the world of fitness.

Speed board:
A parabolic, self-powered treadmill that adjusts speed according to how far forward or back you are on it.

Cybex FT-450 Functional Trainer:
For all the hype this multipurpose cable machine has received, I really don't see what the hype is about. I guess it's kind of neat that there's an adjustable padded piece that unfolds from the machine but when you really think about it, this can take the function right out of a machine designed to be functional.

Think treadmill, only vertical! Yes it is a moving climbing wall. A great idea for clubs (and homes, I suppose) with vertical restrictions. Plus, you don't have to wear a harness.

Gravity Treadmills:
This isn't your mother's treadmill, but maybe it should be. Using gravity differential technology, an advanced air pressure regulation system, enclosure sealing component and other technology that only NASA rocket scientists comprehend, this super-treadmill takes weight off you your body to lessen impact and improve speed.

Jacob's Ladder:
A self-propelled, moving ladder placed at a 40 degree angle. The faster you go, the faster it goes - which sounds as scary as...well, the movie Jacob's Ladder.

xrkade: An active gaming lifestyle that simulate real sports. Interactive games include; boxing, skateboarding, soccer, biking and dancing. Xrkade targets the younger gaming enthusiasts and has actual gyms throughout the U.S.

Other Cook Fitness Toys and Popular Items

Vibration training and vibrating exercise machines continue to be popular with companies such as powerplate .

Fancy Heart Rate Monitors. Suunto has a monitor that measures EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) or how much you are continuing to burn after a workout.

RealRyder: The spinning bike that moves side to side. Also new, this thing where you can actually take the bikes outside and get this... ride them on real roads!

Fitness Anywhere continues to make waves with augmentations to their TRX training systems.

Will any of these have staying power?

Most of these aforementioned items are marketed towards commercial gyms. With an economic downturn, it may be challenging for these companies to sell these rather expensive items to health clubs. Time will tell. I for one want to try these things out.