Survival of the fittest

By Hannah Wallace August 31, 2008

If you haven’t shopped for fitness gear lately, you’re in for a big surprise. From pedometers that digitally read almost everything except your horoscope to sensor shoes that set you on the right track, it’s a brave, new, high-tech world.

Born to Run

Fit2Run is the brainchild of Bill Robinson, former owner of Robby’s Sports, and his son, Parks. The three outlets—in Sarasota, Tampa and Wellington—are each a fitness buff’s paradise. What’s hot? Parks Robinson says you shouldn’t make a move without your trusty Garmin Forerunner 405, a GPS-enabled sport watch that wirelessly uploads training data to your home computer ($300-$350 with heart rate calculator). “It calculates time, distance, pace and heart rate,” he says. “We’re one of the country’s first retailers to carry it.” For footwear, Robinson praises the Asics-GEL Nimbus 10 for its “extra cushion, better bounce-back response, new technology lacing system and compression resistance.” It comes in men and women’s sizes ($125). His advice for home workout warriors: “Invest in commercial-quality equipment from FreeMotion Fitness. The company’s treadmills, bikes and ellipticals are state-of-the-art.” ($2,599-$2,399 for ellipticals; $1,799 for the bike; $3,000-$4,000 for the treadmills)


8123 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota

(941) 358-5100

Getting personal

“Good athletic shoes are the most vital fitness gear,” says Sherry Wilson, co-owner of Snap Fitness, a new fitness center in Bradenton. But there’s a caveat. “Have your feet properly analyzed and sized before you buy.” She recommends the experts at Sarasota’s Fit2Run or New Balance. “They’ll analyze your gait, determine your wear patterns and help you select the right shoe.” Wilson’s favorite running shoes are New Balance (from $85 to $150). Her heart belongs to the Polar F6 Heart Monitor. This stylish and ergonomic gadget tracks calories and fat burned and establishes personal target heart rate and exercise zones. It’s ideal for busy gyms—its coded transmission eliminates interference from other monitors (around $119). Finally, Wilson is a big fan of personal trainers. “Working with one gives you optimal results,” she says. “Most of us hit a fitness plateau. A personal trainer can push you to the next level.” The trainers at Snap Fitness, J.S. Doyle and Dave Turman, have degrees and national certification in multiple exercise and fitness modalities ($85 to $75 per hour session, half-hour group $45).

Snap Fitness

8194 Tourist Center Drive, Bradenton

(941) 358-8833

Have a ball

De Day epitomizes the ideal of a sound mind in a sound body. Her recent success on the national TV show, American Gladiator, proves it. For the past decade, she put her bachelor’s degree in exercise science from IndianaUniversity to work managing fitness centers and organizing health and fitness programs. Today she and her husband, Bruce, are the co-owners of SiestaKeyFitnessCenter. Day says pre-weighted medicine balls are the perfect prescription ($15-30). “Medicine balls are a great way to get strong and fit,” she says. “You can do so many different fundamental exercises, from abdominals, legs and upper body to cardiovascular drills.” When you’re not at the gym, Day recommends the “phenomenal” G7 Dual Adjustable Pulley with Bench, which comes with a guide to creating a personalized workout program (about $5,000). Above all, Day says, “Make exercise fun, do it with other people, be consistent. We live next to the water, after all. Take advantage of it—take your workout outside!

Siesta KeyFitnessCenter

5241 Avenida Navarra,


(941) 349-8500

Jump on the Web

Suzette Jones is president of Evolution Health & Fitness, a private fitness center featuring group and individual exercise classes, Pilates, active-isolated stretching and Corepole, a technique that emphasizes strength, cardio, flexibility and stability training. She’s wild about, a Web-based program connecting fitness trainers to their clients. If your trainer has signed up, she can train you from anywhere on the globe (about $20 per month). Another favorite new gizmo is the Nike+iPod Sports Kit, a wireless hookup between Nike footwear and Apple ear gear. Basically, your shoes talk to your iPod, then your iPod talks to you. How cool is that?

Evolution Health & Fitness

1990 Main St., Sarasota

(941) 955-9300

Power hiking

John Krotec and his wife, Ann, own Environeers, an outfitter’s shop combining rugged outdoor adventure with a green sensibility for nearly 20 years. For power walkers, Krotec recommends a set of Leki trekking poles ($40-$100). “They let you do Nordic walking, like a cross-country skier. It’s a great aerobic workout; the poles help with balance and reduce stress on the knees.” He’s also a big fan of pedometers. “Brunton offers a great line,” he says. “Their pendulum system is personalized for the user’s natural gait. It’ll show your pace count, how far you’ve gone and how many calories you’ve burned.” ($28-$50) Krotec agrees with Sherry Wilson that footwear is important. “Outdoor hiking is like any other sport,” he says. “You don’t want to cut corners.” Vasque is his top-selling line of shoes. (Cross-trainer outdoor shoes are $80-$130; hiking boots, $100-$260.) He adds that eyewear is equally important. “Ignore the ZZ Top song,” he says. “Don’t buy cheap sunglasses. They dilate your pupils but don’t block the harmful rays.” He advises sunglasses by Julbo or Native Eyewear. “Both offer fantastic, photochromatic, protective lenses,” he says. “They eliminate high luminosity and glare, and they look cool, too!” (From $45) With all that vigorous hiking, you’re bound to get thirsty. Krotek recommends the CamelBak hands-free hydration system. “After two or three miles, you’ll be very glad you have it.” ($28-$50)


5373 Fruitville Road, Sarasota

(941) 371-6208‎

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