This week, Ken Wunderlin from Pittsburgh recommends the TrakHandle Sport Cable Attachment.
Here at G&G, we take a lot of pride in only carrying the best equipment. Most often, people think that just refers to the big stuff: treadmills, ellipticals, gyms, and the like. However, we also look for the absolute best products at the accessory level! The Trak handle is the perfect example.
Full transparency here: when I first heard that we’d brought in a $120 pair of handles for function trainers, I thought:
Who would spend that much on a pair of handles?!?!?!
I mean, I thought we would never sell them! You can get a set of nylon ones for thirty bucks or a set of metal ones for forty. I’ve now been in this industry for 25 years and typically have a good eye, I feel, for what will sell and what will sit. Hearing about them, I though they were ludicrous. Seeing them, I thought that we might sell a few.
After using them, I bought them for myself!
Trak handles are a perfect example of not knowing that I needed something until after I knew it existed (the same feeling I had when I discovered the power of texting annoying family members instead of having to call them!). Function trainers, such as the Inspire Fitness FT2 have become a staple of home strength equipment. They are smaller than traditional fixed press gyms, but are more effective at moving the body in similar ways to how we move in daily life. The handles used on these gyms, however, leave much to be desired. Up until the arrival of Trak handles, a lifter had one of two options:
- Nylon handles. These come in many varieties, but the approach is similar: a nylon strap with a grip of rubber, plastic, or aluminum. Each has its problems. The rubber ones tear too easily, and the plastic ones crack. The aluminum ones are stronger, but instead tend to saw apart the nylon! Some companies tried to alleviate this by creating a sort of trumpet-looking curved end, which helps a bit, but is far from perfect.
- Traditional steel cable crossover handles. These are stronger than the nylon versions, but come with issues of their own. First, they always squeak, as two pieces of metal grind against each other when the handle is moved through more than one plane. It’s awful. Second, the metal handles don’t have any give as the exerciser moves through multiple planes of movement, and can therefore feel inhibitive. That’s why most brands give nylon versions with their machines.
In comes Trak. The Trak handle addresses each of those problems elegantly through two major changes:
- At the base of the handle, where it attaches to the cable, there is a super smooth ball bearing pivot that rotates 360 degrees. This means that the exerciser’s (can I just say “your”? My old English teachers will probably have a heart attack, but it just sounds so much more normal) hands can hold the handles at whatever angle is comfortable to you, conforming to your body instead of making your body conform to the design of the machine. This also allows for any sort of rotation during the exercise to be done with no hitch. Under load, the nylon handles tend to catch on the grips, and metal ones don’t spin at all, so they twist the cable. The pivot on the Trak handle allows for fluid movement.
- Inside the handle, for a smooth glide side-to-side, the handle itself is attached to a high tensile strength cable (similar to the ones on the gyms themselves) that runs through four sealed ball bearing pulleys. Most movements of the body are arced (think, for instance, of how a dumbbell bench press starts with your hands by your shoulders and ends with the two dumbbells touching at your body’s center. The nylon handles twist somewhat to accommodate this, but not a ton, and again the metal ones don’t at all. Trak handles flow side to side through any arced motion with no impediment at all.
In the end, Trak handles easily pivot through any range of motion, making them absolutely ideal for any functional trainer. Thanks to their easy glide and pivot range, they also force you to balance them more than any other handle, making each movement that much more functional. At this point, I can’t imagine NOT using them! Man, now a double negative, as well. Mrs. Ewing would be so disappointed...
Below is an internal view of the handle. You can see the bearings for the pivot and the pulleys. You have to stop into the store to feel how smooth they are, though! In this case, pictures don’t do justice!
Ken Wunderlin has been with G&G Fitness Equipment for over 18 years. Prior to joining the G&G team, Ken worked in the fitness product industry. He is a former High School and Collegiate Wrestler, as well as a former Judo state champ. Ken’s favorite fitness activity is Leg Day!
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