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The fitness market has responded to demand from a population of people past their competitive primes. More products are popping up to help older or oft-injured athletes make workouts more comfortable, safer—or simply more fun.  The Wall Street Journal conducted an unscientific poll of older and injured athletes, specialty stores and fitness professionals to select a handful of popular or promising exercise products for this crowd. Athletes say the tools help alleviate the aches and pains of exercise that commonly start as early as their late 30s.

The Zero Runner, a machine that made its debut this year, has extra joints that allow knees and hips to bend more than they might on elliptical machines. Those joints allow the machine to feel less like an elliptical and more like running down the road.  Tom Riggs is a 56-year-old artist and longtime marathoner in Fort Collins, Colo., whose numerous surgeries prompted doctors to advise him to quit running. He gave it up in April, but a few months ago bought a Zero Runner. “It’s as close to the actual running motion as I’ve ever gotten,” Mr. Riggs says. He runs 40 to 50 miles a week on the machine—about what he had been doing on the ground, he says.
The Zero Runner isn’t motorized, so it is “virtually silent,” says Tim Porth, co-founder of Octane Fitness, which makes it. He aims to develop a version of the machine for health clubs and rehabilitation facilities. But he also bills it as a way for younger runners to minimize pounding on their bodies.

The Zero Runner is relatively new and thus not tested by the masses, and it comes with a $3,299 price tag.  It is available on the company website and at specialty fitness retailers.

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
By Rachel Bachman


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