updated 1/28/2004 8:35:58 PM ET 2004-01-29T01:35:58

Hundreds of thousands of popular Bowflex fitness machines are being recalled because of safety problems that have resulted in more than 70 injuries, the government said Thursday.

The voluntary recall affects about 420,000 Bowflex Power Pro XL, XTL, and XTLU systems distributed by Nautilus Direct of Vancouver, Wash.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the machine's backboard bench can unexpectedly collapse when being used in the incline position.

There also are problems with the "Lat Tower," which attaches to the back of the bench and has a metal bar that the user can pull down to strengthen the upper body.

Nautilus Direct says the frame of the tower can weaken over time, twist forward and fall _ hitting the user in the back, head or shoulder.

Of the reports received, 59 people suffered injuries when the backboard collapsed. Another 14 were injured by the "Lat Tower."

The machines in question were sold nationwide from 1995 to 2003 for about $1,200 to 1,600, depending on the model. Consumers are advised to stop using the backboard bench in the incline position, and immediately cease use of the "Lat Tower."

"Most consumers are familiar with the Bowflex exercise machine," CPSC chairman Hal Stratton said in a statement. "If you have purchased a Bowflex, check to see whether it has been recalled. No one should take a chance and suffer a serious back or head injury while using a recalled product."

The head of Nautilus, Gregg Hammann, says free repair kits will be sent to consumers with the recalled home gyms. The kits consist of a steel bar that will reinforce the bench and a steel bracket that will give more support to the "Lat Tower."

Consumers can call Nautilus Direct at 1-888-424-3020 to receive the repair kit. Nautilus is also contacting owners of the machines by mail.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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