Stairmaster® is a brand name that manufactures stair stepping machines. Commonly found in gyms and fitness centers, the Stairmaster® originally hit the market in the early 1980s and was considered a revolutionary piece of gym machinery. The original Stairmaster® was a step-treadmill that functioned similarly to an escalator; the stairs rotated in a constant motion to mimic the motion of walking or running upstairs, and the speed could be varied to deliver different levels of resistance for a workout. Stairmaster® has since created different and more advanced models of the stair stepping machine, as well as other fitness equipment, though machines similar to the original model are still in use today.
A modern Stairmaster® generally consists of two platforms, one for each foot. The platforms move independently of each other, allowing each leg to move at its own rate. The platforms are raised off the ground to allow for downward and upward movement, and the platforms are attached to arms that are affixed to a center point within the machine. Resistance is controlled by adjusting the computer system, which controls the rate of the chain drive system inside the machine. The frame of the machine extends to the front and sides of the user to provide strength and support. The user can grasp hand rails for stability during exercise as well.
The Stairmaster® today has a much smaller footprint than earlier models, and the computer system affixed to the machine is far more advanced. Such a machine measures heart rate and calories burned, as well as other features that vary by model. Some models now come equipped with LCD screens that are capable of being hooked up as a television so the user can watch shows to pass the time while exercising. Some models also feature water bottle holders and other amenities.
Since it first hit the market, Stairmaster® machines have spawned copies, some much cheaper and not nearly as solid, and some built as direct competition to the original. Today, the company is owned by Nautilus, Incorporated, which manufactures other exercise machines that may or may not bear the Stairmaster® name and likeness. The original machines targeted the muscles of the legs, particularly the calves and thighs, though it also provided a cardiovascular workout at higher speeds. The use of the machine was common among athletes, particularly runners and skiers who routinely use those muscles while participating in their respective sports.