New Generation of Fitness Gear Boosts Your Body but Not Your Bank Account

Israeli gyms are promoting newfangled exercise gadgets to spice up your workout routines and boost their profits.

 Ronit Harel
Ronit Harel
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 Ronit Harel
Ronit Harel

In order to spice up the monotonous workout routines of their patrons, fitness clubs have begun offering new types of training apparatus and lessons – but at additional cost.

Go Active, Israel’s second-largest fitness center chain, according to the business information firm BDI Coface, offers members TRX suspension training for NIS 75 for a group session, or NIS 150 for a private lesson. TRX is based on a series of special workout straps used to perform complex exercises that work on all the body's muscle groups. TRX training isn't part of the chain's regular fitness program but is offered to members as a supplement to their standard workout regime.

Many dues-paying members are grumbling about the arrangement but nonetheless aren’t willing to forgo the opportunity of trying out the new fangled exercise regime.

Until recently few Israelis were familiar with this type of training. But over the past year it's become very popular thanks to a massive promotional campaign by fitness centers seeking to retain members and tap the business potential of fitness extras and accessories. According to BDI, around 45% of fitness club members don't renew their memberships.

“The pursuit of additional revenue sources has turned fitness centers into points of sale for all purposes,” says Shimi Raviv, marketing manager for the HL professional care line of products sold at Holmes Place Spa. “Most of the clientele is conscientious about personal care and esthetics, so more and more fitness centers are actually turning into points of sale for accessory products.”

Go Active offers several other auxiliary programs like Viprfit, a method combining strength, flexibility and coordination through the use of a long two-handled plastic tube that can be adapted for weights ranging from four to 20 kilograms. The tube permits a wide range of movements -– lifting, throwing, carrying, dragging and jumping -– with each movement targeting a certain set of muscles. The workout is said to build muscle mass, burn calories and improve flexibility and strength. Like TRX training, Go Active allows members to join group sessions for NIS 75, or enroll in a personalized session for NIS 150.

Great Shape features KIK-MMA training combining kickboxing and mixed martial arts originating in boxing movements from Thailand. Punching bags are placed around the floor and exercises are conducted in the air, standing, kneeling, or sitting. The price is NIS 75 for a group training session and NIS 150 for a private lesson.

Holmes Place, Israel's largest fitness chain, offers the Human Trainer exercise regime, a suspension training system for balance improvement using kettlebells or bosu balls. The cost is NIS 520 for eight sessions or NIS 880 for 16 sessions.

Obviously none of these programs is required, and a high level of fitness and training can be attained without them. But exercise buffs say they are hard to resist. "Workouts can be monotonous and boring," admits Alon, a long-time enthusiast. "The added lessons introduce a bit of a change and add flavor to the hard work. As part of the training regime I am prepared to pay a bit more for extra lessons that aren't included in the regular exercise program." Alon spends NIS 100 to NIS 120 a month on supplementary lessons in addition to his NIS 280-a-month membership fee.

The additional lessons help him in a practical way, he says. "When you work the same muscles using the same exercises, eventually the muscles get bored and the training becomes less effective," Alon explains. Regular weight training condenses the muscles, he adds, whereas supplementary TRX sessions, for example, help stretch the same muscles out again, making them suppler.

Fitness centers on Israel listed a total of 630,000 members in 2012, according to BDI. The industry is strongly seasonal with activity reaching a peak following holiday season, when new memberships jump 15% compared with the rest of the year.

Private fitness clubs make up 70% of the market, with the chains like Holmes Place, Go Active and Great Shape accounting for the remaining 30%. Besides membership fees, the chains also take in much of their revenue through added services like classes, treatments, sales of clothing and equipment, and from their cafeterias.

Operating profits for centers whose main source of revenue is memberships -– mostly the private clubs – generally range from 8% to 12% while those promoting auxiliary services and products – -mostly the chains – generate profits of 18% to 22%.

At the fitness clubs they say it's all a matter of supply and demand. "Beyond the variety of classes offered, we understood that, there is also demand for more exclusive or personalized workshops and sessions with trainers or specialized equipment," says Elad Hasfari, marketing manager at Holmes Place. "These classes, which are open to the general public, are offered to club members interested in diversifying at a reduced price."

Human Trainer

Exercising using straps combined with kettlebells or bosu balls to promote balance through core muscles, nimbleness, and explosive power.

Cost: NIS 520 for 8 sessions; NIS 880 for 16 sessions.

Seen at: Holmes Place, Herzliya

Group HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts

Workout strategy alternating short anaerobic stretches of exercise with breaks for recovery.

Cost: NIS 75 per person for group session; NIS 150 for personal session.

Seen at: Go Active


Using suspended exercise straps, challenges all muscles in the body while continually working core muscles

Cost: NIS 75 per person for group session; NIS 150 for personal session. Trial month for guests: NIS 520, including use of all club facilities and 2 TRX lessons a week (8 overall).

Seen at: Go Active

Pilates combined with TRX

Meant mainly for Pilates practitioners looking for diversity.

Cost: For subscribers, 7 entries for NIS 140; Guests – 5 entries for NIS 150.

Seen at: Great Shape, Seven Star Mall in Herzliya

Outdoor workouts

Includes the use of apparatus found in parks and at the beach: benches, chinning bars, hurdles combined with TRX, combination aerobic and anaerobic exercise

Cost: For subscribers, 7 entries for NIS 140; Guests – 5 entries for NIS 150

Seen at: Great Shape

Integrated functional workout

Eight sessions of an intensive 1-hour "training camp" with stations equipped with things like 10-20 kilogram sacks, TRX ropes, kettlebells, stairs for jumping, floor ladder and resistance rope.

Cost: NIS 520 for members; NIS 640 for guests.

Seen at: Holmes Place, Kanyon Hagadol Mall in Petah Tikva


Total body workout combining strength, flexibility, and coordination based on a long two-handled plastic tube which can accommodate weights of 4-20 kilograms for lifting, throwing, carrying, dragging, and jumping.

Cost: NIS 75 per person for group session; NIS 150 for personal session.

Seen at: Go Active

KIK-MMA workouts

Kickboxing and Thai boxing martial arts movements. Punching bags along the floor offer exercises along different planes and heights, some performed in the air or standing, by sitting on the bag, or kneeling next to it.

Cost: For subscribers, 7 entries for NIS 140; Guests – 5 entries for NIS 150.

Seen at: Great Shape, Seven Star Mall in Herzliya

Illustration: Working out at a gym in central Israel.Credit: Haaretz Archive / Eyal Warshavsky

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