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VersaClimber Sees Non-Impact Cardio as the Future of Fitness

VersaClimber Sees Non-Impact Cardio as the Future of Fitness

Over 100 climbing studios use VersaClimbers in 18 countries, but the benefits of vertical climbing machines can be enjoyed by all types of fitness brands

VersaClimber, the fitness equipment supplier founded in 1981, is focused on moving upward in more ways than one. 

Having invented the industry’s first-ever climbing machines, the brand naturally has a thing for verticality. Users stand in an upright position, continually pumping their feet and arms on pedals to “climb” while burning an abundance of calories.

But the brand is also committed to ascension from a business standpoint, having already made significant ground. 

Since celebrity trainer Jordan Walsh opened the first rhythm-based climbing studio, Rise Nation, in 2015, over 100 climbing studios using VersaClimbers now exist in 18 countries. The equipment’s popularity continues to surge due to its unique set of offerings. 

The Impact of Non-Impact

Much of VersaClimber’s popularity stems from its ability to grant users a non-impact cardio workout experience. This feature makes it more applicable to the masses than something taxing on the body like a treadmill or bike. 

“Non-impact workouts are gentler on the joints compared to high-impact exercises like running, and they’re more accessible to a wider variety of people, in terms of both age and fitness level,” said VersaClimber CRO Jim Siegrist. “Maybe someone has mobility issues, or they’re recovering from an injury – they can still get a great workout and burn a ton of calories, all without the pounding on their knee and hip joints.”

Jim Siegrist (credit: VersaClimber)

VersaClimber is not just a piece of equipment but an effective tool to get more people in gyms or studios who are often left hanging by the more common cardio machines that are becoming boring to them. 

“This type of training is more sustainable and people can push themselves more,” Siegrist said. “It’s also a full-body exercise that allows people to be upright, which is great for anyone who’s sitting down all day, like most of us are.”

It’s onward and upward for the brand in terms of product design as well. VersaClimber recently replaced its hydraulic resistance with a patent-pending magnetic resistance that creates an even smoother climbing experience and consistency from machine to machine.

Operators Save Space & Time

VersaClimber’s non-impact nature is not the only thing that separates it from the pack. The convenience the equipment brings from a storage and timing standpoint also makes it a value-add for any gym operator. 

The brand recently added a battery power option to its machines as well as a moveable and stackable base. This allows operators to place the machines essentially anywhere they want.

“We can help any gym or health club convert rooms like yoga or stretching rooms into revenue generating-climbing studios,” Siegrist said. “They wheel the VersaClimbers out during peak hours before and after work for climbing classes and then wheel them out of the way and stack them at the back of the room when they’re offering yoga classes.” 

credit: VersaClimber

Convenience on the clock comes from the equipment’s ability to burn calories at an exponential rate. VersaClimber classes are far shorter than most other group exercise modalities. They typically run from 20-30 minutes because that’s all the time it takes to burn the same amount of calories someone would after running 45 to 60 minutes on a treadmill, for example, and they are getting a full-body workout. 

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“More classes means more revenue for the owners,” said Siegrist. “This is a great way for health clubs to monetize spaces in their clubs that are currently not generating extra revenue.”

Spreading the Gospel of Climbing 

Spreading the news on the benefits of climbing is VersaClimber’s top priority going forward. For all it has accomplished thus far, there are still more mountains to climb.

“The main goal we have is to educate the fitness community on what the new VersaClimber is and to let people who haven’t used it before know how to use it,” said Siegrist. “A lot of people have mistakenly thought the VersaClimber was only for elite athletes and that’s just not accurate. Yes, it’s a challenging workout, but you’re the motor on it and you make it as easy or as difficult as you want it to be.”

To combat this, the brand added a custom health club screen to the built-in tablets on its machines. Those feature “How to Climb” videos explaining the exercise in a more in-depth manner. They also include classes taught by instructors. VersaClimber even uses artificial intelligence (AI) to translate those videos into any language. 

But the brand’s call for more education extends to operators as well. 

“We sat in on a panel discussion at IHRSA and heard some club owners commenting on the fact that their members aren’t using the cardio floor the way they have in the past,” said Siegrist. “I think it’s because people are looking for something new and some people have just taken a beating on their joints after years of running, for example, and they want something different.”

“It’s really all about getting an audience with decision-makers at the various health clubs, boutique studios, etc., and showing them how we can help,” he added. “One of the disadvantages of being around for so long is that people tend to put you in a box and we’re working hard to get out of that. We feel very good about the changes we’ve made and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Now it’s about getting the word out.”

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