25 Years of Fitness profiles -- Manufacturers

A silver anniversary is nothing to gloss over, and the fitness industry has plenty to celebrate -- yes, even in times of adversity and economic hardship. Take a moment to realize it is indeed very youthful as far as industries go, and then just look at all it has accomplished in the last 25 years. We sought out stories and insights from leaders who were around 25 years ago, asking them varied questions about their roots in the industry, influential moments and products, as well as the future of specialty fitness and the industry as a whole. See what these manufacturers had to say about the growth of the industry...
Author:
Publish date:

A silver anniversary is nothing to gloss over, and the fitness industry has plenty to celebrate -- yes, even in times of adversity and economic hardship. Take a moment to realize it is indeed very youthful as far as industries go, and then just look at all it has accomplished in the last 25 years.

We sought out stories and insights from leaders who were around 25 years ago, asking them varied questions about their roots in the industry, influential moments and products, as well as the future of specialty fitness and the industry as a whole.

See what these manufacturers had to say about the growth of the industry:

Larry Brown

Paul Byrne

Chris Clawson

Jerry Dettinger

Ted Habing

Bobby Hinds

Buell Ish

Greg Niederlander

Augie Nieto

Peter Oppedisano

Jerry Staub

Greg Webb


Larry Brown

Flex Fitness • Former vice president




Entry into the fitness industry


I got started in the industry after coming out of the Army as a medic. I owned a pre-hospital care group in Hawaii, and had a company that did tennis and fitness, meaning tennis coaching with private training to get in shape to play better tennis. I met a fellow from HK who had been injured and was visiting. He happened to be building a residential resort in HK, and I went to HK to do the recreation planning. It was a huge project with a yacht club, tennis club and fitness club. Went around the world doing a survey on all types of clubs. While this resort was getting going, we opened our own city clubs for fitness. We developed this into a management/consulting company and were also involved in product procurement and had a separate company just for that purpose. Between the three companies, we opened over 130 clubs throughout Asia, whether just consulting, managing or procuring or combinations or doing all of these.

Reactions of public, friends and family

My family thought it intriguing that I would just take off to Asia to start something new for the time.

Influential moments in fitness history

I still think today that Augie Nieto is the one person that had the vision that made so many changes we have today in the equipment side of the industry. Twenty-five years later, a new kid emerges on the scene from a different industry in the form of Steve Nero. Great vision as well, but with much better systems.

Future of the fitness industry

Where does tomorrow end up? The biometrics stuff we are working on will be fully integrated into the fitness industry. When you walk into a club, we will know who you are without you having to carry a card, type or say your name or number, wear or touch anything. When you get on a piece of product, it will know who you are, what you are here for, what your heart rate is, blood pressure, metabolic rate, glucose levels, temperature, etc., and will take you through its program to keep those in check -- again, without touching anything or wearing anything. And this will all be applied to the consumer health and fitness industry as well as most parts of our daily lives.


Paul Byrne

Precor • President

Entry into the fitness industry

As a graduate student at Syracuse, I started selling Paramount to supplement my income. After graduation, I took a brief hiatus from the business to teach high school chemistry and physics, but returned with vigor, teaming with an arguably crazy but evangelical Barry Lynn to sell and promote Total Gym in the NYC market. After that, I co-founded Concept 90 in the early ’80s with some college friends. We were one of the first along with Malcolm Menter and a handful of others to try to expand the concept of specialty fitness. I remember we took on this new line of hot rowers from a company called Precor.

Influential moments in fitness history

I view Kennedy’s President’s Council, Arthur Jones/Nautilus, and Kenneth Cooper as having the most profound influence on the direction and breadth of the fitness movement. The increasingly ubiquitous nature of the media didn’t hurt either.

Future of the fitness industry

The increasing pressure of health care costs will drive more government involvement, which will drive more emphasis and funding for prevention. The key is driving up participation rates beyond the current dismal percentages. I expect technology and government funding to play a key role in that transition.

The future of specialty fitness retail

The current economic crisis will be felt by specialty retailers for some time. Consumption of home exercise equipment has a direct correlation to housing. With the massive amounts of equity that has been destroyed, sales will take a while to rebound. Couple that with the relentless changes due to the Internet, and I think there will be fewer stores and smaller stores supported by very different ways to find and intercept customers.


Chris Clawson

Johnson Health Tech NA • CEO/President

Entry into the fitness industry

I started in October 1984 as a sales associate at Oshman’s Sporting Goods in San Diego, Calif.

Reactions of public, friends and family

I think everyone I knew, including my parents, thought it was a great job since I have had a blast from the start. I clearly have enjoyed both the retail and manufacturing sides of the industry. The business is so much more consolidated on both sides, particularly on the retail front, and what had often been family-owned businesses are now very corporate with a larger number being publicly traded.

Influential moments in fitness history

Augie Nieto, without a doubt, has the title of being the singular person that changed the definition of the industry. He didn’t invent the computerized exercise bike, but he gave it soul. From a singular product an entire cardiovascular product range has come of age across all channels of distribution worldwide.

Significant product of the last 25 years

In the past 25 years, I would have to say the elliptical trainer would be the most innovative. The stairclimber would have been my answer if the timeframe were 1984-1995, but the elliptical category is so pervasive it has to be No. 1.

Future of the fitness industry

The human body will not have morphed into a new range of motion in 25 years, so I believe the products will be improvements of what is known today with some unique designs emerging along the way. That means more of what we know today, with things we haven’t anticipated, rather than dramatic products that we simply cannot comprehend. The Internet and technology make change so much faster, but the human body can only move so many ways. Software and entertainment are tomorrow's blue sky.



The future of specialty fitness retail


The most challenging elements of being in specialty retail will continue to be foot traffic and what is a well-defined “off-season” for sales. Brick-and-mortar fitness retailers will embrace online selling like retailers in other segments, and that will help. But, ultimately, they need to have unique selling propositions (products, valued knowledge, financing, service, etc.) that make them relevant to consumers.


Jerry Dettinger

Torque Fitness • CEO

Entry into the fitness industry

I started back in 1980. Steve Duncan and I started in my family garage building weight beaches and strength equipment. We sold the products by word of mouth first, mail order next and then to specialty dealers. We started in St. Paul, Minn. Our first company was Pow'r Body Building, changed the name to ParaBody and lastly sold the company to Brunswick, which had earlier acquired Life Fitness. Our current company is Torque Fitness making innovative strength equipment and Hyperstrike software that gives the customer custom workouts and meal plans to meet their health goals and allows for interaction between the salesperson and the client.

Reactions of public, friends and family

When we started, strength training was only done by a small percentage of the population. No women, few men, and it was something that was considered almost a little strange. My family has a history of being entrepreneurs, so they thought it was great. The industry was just starting to get legs so it was wide open to all kinds of new products. The change now is beyond belief. Women are strength training, and no serious athlete has not made strength training a major part of their life.

Influential moments in fitness history

On the strength side, it may have been the results of teams in the NFL using strength training to improve performance. This drove things down to the college level and high school level. Pretty soon, everyone was wanting to strength train. Arnold Schwarzenegger took the image of a body builder mainstream, and his success in Hollywood (has been influential). On the cardio side it would be Augie Nieto. His bringing technology into the industry with Lifecycle was a major turning point. He had a vision for building a worldwide fitness company that crossed into all phases. He’s a great leader. On the retail side, it would be Malcolm Menter. He was fearless in being willing to expand, and he had the best business model from the early days. He had great products, great locations and great salespeople.



Significant product of the last 25 years

The Lifecycle as mentioned earlier, and the elliptical as it was the perfect product for the baby boomers.

Future of the fitness industry

Home fitness will have software that will motivate, educate and track results. It will be seamless and take the guesswork out of what people are doing. This has been the missing link in everything we have been trying to do over the last 25 years.

The future of specialty fitness retail

The stores of the future will leverage their knowledge to help their clients reach their goals. This will be done through the correct equipment and interactive software that connects their customer, the store professional and their insurance provider. We will enter a new phase of life-long relationships with our customers, and it will be less about equipment and more about results.


Ted Habing

Inspire Fitness • Co-founder

Entry into the fitness industry

In 1976, when I was 13 years old I taught myself to weld so I could build my first weight bench. I ended up building a complete gym for my basement, including selectorized machines using altered railroad tie plates for the selectorized weights. In 1981, I started building free-weight benches and selling them to people I met in the weight room at Eastern Illinois University. Paramount Fitness hired me as a designer in 1985, and in 1986, I founded Pacific Fitness with Norm Richards. Pacific focused on selectorized weight machines for the home, vertical and commercial markets.

Reactions of public, friends and family

Twenty-five years ago, friends and family commented that it was very risky starting a business at such a young age, and they said they would not touch the fitness industry with a 10-foot pole. I went against their advice and started Pacific Fitness. The retailers and consumers loved the gyms we made, and the business grew rapidly.

Influential moments in fitness history

Augie Nieto. He has always had a way of inspiring people, and he lived what he preached.

Significant product of the last 25 years

Precor’s elliptical because it started a new category of products that have taken the best-selling spot.

Future of the fitness industry

I think specialty retail will always have a place. Good, strong stores always seem to make it in the long haul. When too many stores crowd a market, it seems to weaken specialty retail in that market. A good hybrid might be a lifestyle products store that carries unique, high-end products that expand beyond just fitness. A specialty lifestyle store might carry unique products in several categories that capture the attention of people. We all like new, innovative products, and specialty retailers support that best.


Bobby Hinds

Lifeline Fitness • Founder

Entry into the fitness industry

I sold Term Life Insurance, and to get clients “fit,” I gave them jump ropes and put them on a program to get into shape. It worked well, and so many clients were grateful to be in shape that I felt it was the right time to start a jump rope company. I started the company out of my own backyard with the help of my children and our neighbors who made the jump ropes. Some highlights in the jump rope business were my appearances on major television shows during the '70s and '80s like Johnny Carson, Walter Kronkite Evening News and Merv Griffin.

Reactions of public, friends and family

The public probably thought I was nuts -- I know my wife did. My kids had a ball making jump ropes in the backyard with all the neighbor kids.

Future of the fitness industry

Traveling with your exercising equipment will be easier because of the portability of the products. There will be no more waiting in line at the gym or making sure there is a fitness center in your hotel -- your gym is in your suitcase!


Buell Ish

Vectra Fitness • Co-founder

Entry into the fitness industry

My college degree is in economics, with a minor in German. I got a job out of college in a bank management training program, but I was quickly aware that banking was not going to be a good fit (too quiet and too boring). I started looking, and in 1984, M&R Industries hired me to work as a sales rep for the AVITA line of cardio equipment, which included rowers, exercise bikes and treadmills. Based on my interests and abilities, I was quickly handling many marketing activities, such as the production of brochures and other printed materials. After that, I became product manager and was determining which products went into development. That company was sold in 1986, and I left in December 1986.

I approached my two former employers, Doug MacLean and Bob Rasmussen…the M and the R. Together we founded Vectra Fitness Inc., incorporating in March 1987. We decided to go into the multi-gym business with an emphasis on selling a high-end product through the specialty store channel. We selected strength equipment primarily because it looked like a stagnant market where innovation could lead to success. And we selected the specialty channel because we had contacts there, and we as individuals had reputations among those contacts that ensured that any product that we produced would be given fair consideration. We also knew that the country’s premier specialty stores were the only ones offering the sales and service that our product would require.

We showed our first product, the On-Line 1500 at the Anaheim NSGA show in September 1987. As we were a start-up business, there was not a factory yet. The product was very well received. We went home with many accounts interested. We immediately rented factory space, bought punch presses, cold saws, brake presses, welding equipment, etc. And we started hiring. We shipped our first production On-Line 1500 the week before Thanksgiving of '87.

Reactions of public, friends and family

In 1987, the multi-gym market was dominated by painted weight machines for around $1,000 and chrome machines for around $2,000. The On-Line 1500 represented a painted, single-stack machine for a retail price of $2,995. Oddly, people were selling treadmills for above $3,000, but they did not think there was a market for a home gym at this price. When I discussed the product on the phone with potential retailers, I was getting nowhere. The problem was that they had a mental image of a painted version of the Paramount Fitness Mate in their heads. This all changed when they saw the product in person. No one had expected a product as nice as the 1500. It had more stations, more exercises and was easier to use correctly than anything out there. Dealers quickly saw the value that the product represented, even though it was priced well above any one-stack machine they had ever carried. The sell-through proved that there was a market there that formerly had been unknown.

Significant product of the last 25 years

To me, the single greatest innovation in the last 25 years was the “On-Line” no cable change system in our first product, the On-Line 1500. When we started designing the product, everyone was telling us that the single biggest impediment to demonstrating, selling and then working out on the home gyms of the time was all the cable changes. This will seem strange to those who know only the machines of today, but in 1987 all single-stack machines required cable changes. In short, only one exercise was connected to the weight stack at a time. Between every exercise in a workout, the user had to unhook a cable from the top of the stack and then connect a different cable from a different exercise. The only answer in the marketplace were multi-stacks. If the machine had enough stacks, then cable changes were not necessary. This was a solution for those with $7,000 or $10,000 to spend.

The no-cable change system on the 1500 was the answer, and even though it received a U.S. Patent it was very widely copied. Within 12 months of the introduction of the On-Line 1500, every product that had been on the market before had been discontinued. Every company making multi-gyms was forced back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, they primarily chose to copy the cable system we designed and patented. Fortunately, there was much more to the On-Line 1500 than just its no cable change feature. We were a small company, and within a year, more than 25 companies had copied our most significant technology. While we ultimately won all the lawsuits and received royalties from essentially all the companies that copied our patent, it would take many years. The primary reason it took so long is that in the United States one protects a patent by filing lawsuits. We had to finance these lawsuits from operations, so there was no way to sue all the companies at once.

The reason that I think this the most significant innovation of the last 25 years is that it has touched every weight machine made in the last 22 years. Not only have two to five times as many machines been produced and sold because of this change, but also every one of these machines is much easier to use and therefore more effective in terms of delivering the results that those who use them are pursuing.

Future of the fitness industry

I’m an optimist. I think that the products, programs and ideas that help individuals reach their fitness goals will prosper. And I think that the cheap products that look neat in an infomercial but don’t help their owners achieve their goals will be forced from the marketplace. In short, I think that good information forces out the mistaken notions as the consumer gets more knowledgeable. Largely, I think the change in consumer knowledge is brought about over the long-haul by personal trainers, knowledgeable sales staff and all the others who make up this wonderful industry sharing good information with the masses via the media and one-on-one. A lot has been learned about the role that strength training can play in a fitness regimen…bone density, weight control, etc. There is still a lot of work to be done in bringing this knowledge to the population at large, but the word is getting out.


Greg Niederlander

SPRI products • Director, program/product development

Entry into the fitness industry

I graduated with a degree in PE in 1980 and went to work for what was then called “Sports Performance and Rehabilitation Institute” (SPRI) in Chicago in 1981. As a part of my job, I trained Steve Block’s son. Steve came in one day and saw us using all these rubber bands and tubes and he saw a business opportunity. He was an insurance salesman and had been for 22 years, and he just left it all to start this SPRI Products business. It was one man’s vision of what it could be…. It was Steve.

I would see the boxes of rubber bands in his office and he’d say, “Those aren’t tubes and rubber bands. These are tens of thousands of dollars worth of Nautilus exercise equipment you can take anywhere. He would offer trainers and instructors 50 bucks to teach a class, and they’d get excited. I started with him in 1983, a year after he started the company.

Reactions of public, friends and family

The product was a little ahead of its time. People outside the industry would say, “You’re selling bands and tubes!?” It was soft and fun and colorful, so it was also an engaging way to involve women in strength training. That’s why we came up with using the words “toning and firming and shaping,” plus the term “pumping rubber.” Tubing introduced people to the weight room and, beyond that, to personal training.

Influential people in fitness history

Steve Block, he was the John Wayne of the industry. Every morning he would get up and drop to the floor and do 100 sit-ups. He even carried around the same tube for years and years. He played football and was a personal fitness advocate. When he sat down with somebody to do business, he would first ask, “How are you doing? Is there anything I can help you with?” Only after that would he continue the business meeting. He admired the fitness professional because he knew they weren’t making a lot of money and they wanted to help people.

It was also the movement from the cardio age of Jane Fonda to the strength age. And that came from Arthur Jones developing the original Nautilus equipment. That significantly impacted the fitness industry.



Significant product of the last 25 years

The tube, of course. It created a bridge of acceptance of strength training, especially among women. There were other more prominent products, but this bridged gaps and took people to different areas of fitness.

Future of the fitness industry

For our own survival and to reach more people, it will come full circle. There will be more movement-based activities and less structured exercise. I see more freedom of motion since there is only a small percentage of the population that will enjoy or can tolerate strength-training exercise. There’ll also be more technology, and that part will keep going too with the equipment.

We will move to combine all three areas of fitness -- flexibility, strength and cardio -- to grow the industry.

The future of specialty fitness retail

The consumer is more and more educated through trainers, reading, TV and other things. They’ll be looking for less structure, and the accessory world will increase. You’ll still, of course, have all your treadmills and your bikes, but people will ask for more accessories and they will come in asking for what they want. And the retailers will need to be educated enough to help them.


Augie Nieto

Augie’s Quest • Founder

Entry into the fitness industry

I started Lifecycle with my partner Ray Wilson in 1977 in Irvine, Calif. I’d soon bought a motor home, affectionately called “Slugo,” and had set out across country to show the bike off to any gym rat who cared to see it. I drove from coast to coast, setting up in health club and fitness center parking lots to pitch my vision of the industry’s coed future. I had a Lifecycle bolted to the floor of my mobile home, and I lured club owners and managers out to ride it every chance I got.

I was so confident I’d stumbled upon the future of fitness that I had several hundred Lifecycles ready for shipment in a California warehouse. My enthusiasm, however, proved doggedly uncontagious. Over the course of nine months, I sold a pathetic 1 bikes. By the time I’d returned to the West Coast, I found myself nearly a half million dollars in debt. Desperation took hold. I sifted through my meager options and settled on the one that made the most sense to me at the time. I needed people to love the bike like I did, so I started giving Lifecycles away. I selected 50 health club owners and sent each of them a bike -- not to their gyms but to their homes. I wanted this gift to be seen for what it was -- a personal gesture made freely with no obligation attached.

I hardly knew what, if anything, to expect in return, and I certainly had no idea I was tapping into a potent human force that has informed and shaped social interaction for centuries. Even if inadvertently, I was unleashing the irresistible power of reciprocation. The 50 club owners, once they’d accepted something for nothing, could hardly hope to let the debt go unanswered. We were now joined in what anthropologists call a “web of obligation.” My gift had to be repaid somehow. The hard wiring of the human psyche demanded it.

I’ve since grown to appreciate the profound gravitational pull of reciprocity, but at the time, I was merely hoping to stave off ruin and help generate enthusiasm for a product I believed in. The expense of putting 50 free Lifecycles in the hands of people who might buy and deploy fleets of them seemed modest relative to my investment in the 400 bikes sitting unwanted in my warehouse. I was doing what I had to do as a businessman, and I remained blind to the social science of the undertaking until well after the orders started coming in.

Today, I calculate that each of the 50 Lifecycles I gave away directly resulted in 10 bikes sold. And those bikes in turn sold more bikes, which sold more bikes, which sold more bikes. The company I started with a lone product I believed in would eventually morph into Life Fitness, the largest manufacturer of exercise equipment in the world.



Influential moment in fitness the last 25 years


I believe the formation of IHRSA was the single most important event in the fitness industry. It gave the industry a voice. Plus, it gave the fitness industry a place to learn best practices, and gave the vendors a place to showcase their products.

Most significant product of the last 25 years

I would have to say the introduction of computerized cardio equipment like the Lifecycle. It changed the landscape of the club industry. It attracted a whole different type of participant…women! It transformed the entire industry. We were able to attract not only women, but also de-conditioned men.

Future of the fitness industry

The struggle is that we are currently at a plateau. There is a limit to the number of individuals that would be willing to go to a club. Home fitness is not a threat to the clubs’ success. It is a lifestyle decision. I hope the future of fitness brings an incentive for the individual to either go to a club or use a home piece of equipment.


Peter Oppedisano

Business Management • Consultant

Entry into the fitness industry

I was the vice president of marketing and sales for Cybex (medical rehabilitation products) starting in 1982. In 1986, as part of our strategic plan, we saw a blending of rehabilitation and fitness coming. So we purchased Eagle Performance Systems in Minnesota and slowly folded it into the Cybex family, ultimately changing its name to Cybex Fitness Products.

Reactions of public, friends and family

Twenty-five years ago, the general public was really just catching on to the need for fitness, wellness and longevity. From my perspective, it was the educational cycle for the everyday person. Now they are more knowledgeable and, therefore, more discriminating in what they want and need, which places much more of a burden on us, the creators and manufacturers that supply the industry.

Influential moments in fitness history

From the service provision side, it has been the advent of the big club chains. They have taken the fitness movement to a new level with the incorporation of all types of training and exercise under one roof. The mega-club environment was just at its infancy 25 years ago. If you wanted to swim, you went to a pool or swim club, and if you wanted to lift weights, you went to a mom-and-pop (usually muscle head) gym. This has changed the face of the fitness industry. It has taken it from being a muscle/body builder mentality to a wellness and longevity mentality.

Significant product of the last 25 years

I would say the introduction of the elliptical products, but to my way of thinking, the concept has been good but the implementation is still lacking. On the other hand, I would consider the Healthrider as a significant contribution to the fitness industry. As a product, from a scientific perspective, it was next to worthless, but what it did accomplish was to get thousands of people off the couch and exercising because it was so easy to do. So from that perspective, I think it had its significance to our industry.

Future of the fitness industry

I see the future of the fitness industry moving more toward functional exercise rather than the basic cardiovascular and strength training components that we all see today. I envision that the product offerings will become more activity-based simulation devices. By that I mean a rowing machine would really more simulate rowing, a ski machine would more realistically simulate skiing, etc. One of the things that helped me succeed in the fitness industry was my grounding in the physical therapy and rehabilitation industry. As the movement in physical therapy becomes more and more driven to functional outcomes, so the fitness industry must go as well.


Jerry Staub

Aerobics Inc. • Chairman

Entry into the fitness industry

I first became involved in the fitness industry in 1971 when I joined my dad (William Staub) after he founded Aerobics. Dad had a successful machine shop business making precision parts for aircraft and helicopters. When he read Dr. Ken Cooper’s best-selling book “Aerobics,” he was intrigued by the idea that treadmills were a great way to achieve cardiovascular fitness. In the early years, Aerobics was a side business to the machine shop, and I was the only Aerobics employee. Dad and I personally built every treadmill and ran at least 10 minutes on each one to test and calibrate the unit. The first units sold for $295.

Reactions of public, friends and family

I will never forget the first tradeshow we attended in the '70s. It was in Los Angeles, and I had an 8x10 booth with standard gray curtains and an electric outlet. I plugged in the treadmill (a Power Pacer back then) and proceeded to walk and jog. In short order, I had a literal crowd around the booth. Most of the people had never seen a motorized treadmill previously. I heard quips like, “Boy, that guy is going no place quickly.”

Future of the fitness industry

Maybe we’ll have helmets that we don, and press touch screens to activate the muscle groups we want to automatically condition. Our supplement pills will break into macro-pellets that float through the bloodstream and measure the appropriate chemical levels and adjust their release rates for optimized efficacy. Specialty fitness manufacturers will download your exact body geometry through scanner stations and manufacture and ship customized equipment that is perfect for YOU.



The future of specialty fitness retail


The population will continue to embrace fitness as a way to ensure the quality of life. And, hopefully, fitness specialty dealers will once more realize the value of knowledge, support, service and product choice that is needed to set them apart from the mass merchants.


Greg Webb

Nautilus • Vice president, engineering

Entry into the fitness industry

From 1977 to 1979, I worked at Nautilus as an intern during summer months while in college. I started full time in June 1980 after receiving a degree from Virginia Tech in mechanical engineering. I started out as a manufacturing engineer but moved to design engineering within one year. I worked with Arthur Jones in the early years, which is where I learned about biomechanics and exercise.

Reactions of public, friends and family

Nautilus was new to Independence, Va., in 1975. A lot of people did not take it all that seriously when it first moved there, but it became the largest employer in the area in just a few years.

Influential moments in fitness history

Arthur Jones’ invention of the single-station Nautilus machine in 1970 started the beginning of the fitness industry as we know it today. Prior to that, gyms were often relegated to basements and rundown buildings. Very few people exercised compare to today. Most were young guys interested in bodybuilding, or a few athletes. Today, the mix of people -- both male and female -- who exercise is a wide spectrum from business executives and professionals to youth and athletes. Clubs have become a social center and a normal activity in many peoples’ lives. This has driven the sales of countless exercise machines for the home as many don’t have time to go to a club or prefer to workout in the privacy of their home.

Significant product of the last 25 years

The single-station Nautilus machine. Prior to this, most machines were multi-station cable pulley machines. The single-station Nautilus machine brought to the masses a machine that matched human body movements and strength curves.



Future of the fitness industry


This is a concern. The vendors within the fitness industry, in an effort to be competitive, have reduced the price point of products compared to several years ago. Although this may appear to be better for the consumer pocketbook, product robustness and features can tend to regress. If there is going to be a progression over the next 25 years, vendors must invest in product innovation. Innovation in functionality and reliability comes at a cost, but innovation meeting consumer needs has always delivered sales in the past. I hope the industry will be willing to invest in its future. Otherwise, the total industry will become stale and stagnate.


If you liked this supplemental material to the SNEWS 2009 Fitness magazine’s article celebrating 25 years of fitness, then you’ll like all the rest too. Be sure not to miss additional commentary from retailer long-timers, more from manufacturer long-timers and some insights from those who are retired, out of the industry or from other related groups.

In addition to the photos in the magazine we have more, with full IDs and other information. Don’t miss vintage photos from manufacturers, vintage photos from retailers, vintage photos of people, and classic photos of old and original equipment.

Then, if you are wondering who is in and what is pictured in each photo on the grid on the Table of Contents page of the magazine, you can find those IDs by clicking here.

Related

Fitness_sum09_cover.jpg

25 Years of Fitness profiles -- Retailers

A silver anniversary is nothing to gloss over, and the fitness industry has plenty to celebrate -- yes, even in times of adversity and economic hardship. Take a moment to realize it is indeed very youthful as far as industries go, and then just look at all it has accomplished in ...read more

Fitness_sum09_cover.jpg

25 Years of Fitness: Vintage photos -- equipment

SNEWS is celebrating its 25th anniversary and we're including the fitness industry in the party. What better way to celebrate 25 years of an industry than to talk to those futurists who opened stores, built gyms in their garages and tinkered with ergonomics in 1984 -- or even ...read more

Fitness_sum09_cover.jpg

25 Years of Fitness: Vintage photos -- retailers

SNEWS is celebrating its 25th anniversary and we're including the fitness industry in the party. What better way to celebrate 25 years of an industry than to talk to those futurists who opened stores, built gyms in their garages and tinkered with ergonomics in 1984 -- or even ...read more

Fitness_sum09_cover.jpg

25 Years of Fitness: Vintage photos -- people

SNEWS is celebrating its 25th anniversary and we're including the fitness industry in the party. What better way to celebrate 25 years of an industry than to talk to those futurists who opened stores, built gyms in their garages and tinkered with ergonomics in 1984 -- or even ...read more