Smith Machine Review
The Smith Machine is a “crowd favorite.” And always is one of the top ten most-used pieces of fitness equipment in any club. Therefore, when the time is right, let IRON COMPANY® assist you in selecting the perfect linear bearing Smith Machine for your facility. We’ll help remove the guess work and provide the knowledge you’ll need to make an informed decision.
So what’s in a name?
History of the Smith Machine
The Smith machine is relatively new to the fitness landscape. During the 1950’s Jack LaLanne created the original sliding apparatus. LaLanne’s intention was to introduce free weight benefits to a wider audience with additional safety measures. Rudy Smith, a gym manager, took this early prototype and improved the design so that it could be mass-produced. Right from the beginning, the demand was overwhelming and the original design concept is still used today.
While it’s true that the original design concept is the same, the Smith Machine has improved constantly. And this is where it gets interesting. In the commercial setting the Smith machine has been refined through a design in pursuit of perfection. And now there are many features and considerations that complicate the purchase decision.
There are two basic versions of design with the Smith machine. The traditional version has the straight vertical path of movement. The other version is the angled version, which is usually set at a 7-10 degree incline. The thinking is that this allows a more natural movement that follows your own movement track. Choosing between the two versions is a matter of personal preference.
All commercial quality Smith machines should have these design features:
- Linear bearings: Essential for an easy movement. Nothing compares to the smoothness of linear bearings.
- Counterbalanced: A counterbalanced Olympic Bar enables the use of a lower-weight bar, which results in the ability of a broader range of clientele using the machine.
- Safety stops: These are critical for an absolute safety mechanism, which will allow members to push to near-failure limits.
- Range of Travel: Don’t let a short Smith Machine cramp your training style.
- Plate storage: Keep your Olympic Plates close by for convenience and off the floor.
- Construction: A Smith machine that weighs less than 500 pounds probably can’t endure the pounding that a commercial facility will provide.
These subtle additions can take a good Smith machine to the next level. The first is a shielded counterbalanced system, which provides a sleeker and cleaner look besides the obvious safety impact. Next, a “walk-through” design allows entering the Smith from either the front or back. This comes into play when the machine is positioned in a high-traffic area. From a convenience standpoint, numbered weight storage and safety stop positions take the guess work out of the equation.
And another twist…a few years back the Jones Club Smith Machine arrived in the marketplace with the normal hoopla. I was inclined to dismiss this as another gimmick with no real merit. But after a period of time, the Jones Club carved out a cult following in the light commercial market. While it’s not a true full commercial model, it has garnered a foothold in some light commercial facilities. The Jones Club has taken the original concept to a new level with its unprecedented range of motion.
How to Make a Purchasing Decision on a Commercial Smith Machine
The least effective method to purchase is using price and emotion. Needless to say, you should have a “realistic” budget that you will feel good about once you’ve gone through the process. The purchasing process is: information, evaluation and purchase.
Gathering information is the beginning of the process. When purchasing a linear bearing and counterbalanced Smith Machine, start with the basic features that any commercial model should possess. Next add the additional features that you’ll need in your facility into this equation. This will put the finishing touch on tailoring a Smith Machine that is a good fit for your club. Function, aesthetics and durability should factor into the formula.
Now it’s time for evaluation. Too often price tips the scales and heavily influences the purchase, which results in either dissatisfaction or a second purchase much sooner than anticipated. It’s wise to wait until the budget will allow for the right model.
So when the time is right, recruit IRON COMPANY to assist in putting the correct Smith Machine into your facility. We are dedicated fitness professionals.
About the Author
John Sisk is a former US Marine and is passionate about helping others achieve success in the arena of fitness. As a fitness industry veteran of over 40-years, John has the experience, product knowledge, and perspective that are second to none. John was founder and president of Legend Fitness for 29 years before teaming up with IRON COMPANY in 2006. With over 147 manufacturing partners, John has the right tools, experience, and expertise to ensure you get the best products for your fitness application, whether it is for military, commercial, or personal use. This is more than a job; it is a lifetime commitment to helping people. When not at IRON COMPANY, John can be found leading a Bible Study in the inner city or hiking the Appalachian Trail. Contact John here.