Without a Life Fitness dealer in the Phoenix area, Advanced Exercise Equipment (AEE) approached the manufacturer with an idea -- open a Life Fitness company store and go straight to the upscale and exclusive shopping mecca of Scottsdale, Ariz.
The store, to be run by Denver-based AEE with marketing support by Life Fitness, swung open its doors on Nov. 24 in a quiet launch to allow the kinks to get shaken out before advertising begins and a grand opening is scheduled for January, John Talley, AEE vice president of retail sales, told SNEWS.
"We were trying to leverage the strength of the Life Fitness name in the town," said Talley. "The name is huge in the clubs and in the resorts in that area."
Barely broached three months ago at a meeting in August at the Health & Fitness Business Expo, the concept for the store quickly hit high gear, with consultants helping Talley get ideas out of his head onto paper with some plans even being drawn on the floor in sawdust, he said. Outfitting the building took only three weeks.
The 3,300-square-foot store -- with the sign indicating its name as "Life Fitness Exercise Equipment" -- will carry only the manufacturer's equipment, including Life, ParaBody, Sport and Essential. However, those pieces will be complemented by accessories from TKO and weights from USA Troy, Talley said. Other accessories, such as heart rate monitors, will also be added to the mix, he added.
The biggest push was to use the influence of the Life Fitness name, Talley said. AEE had a retail and commercial showroom in the area, but it was in a warehouse district and not set up as a store. Since eight of 10 products sold by AEE are from Life Fitness, he said, it made sense to be the ones to do the first specialty company store; the Phoenix area was a logical location since "it was the biggest void without a dealer."
Forget pieces of equipment lined up along a wall, Talley said, noting that "it's all presentation," and being a draw for people. The ceilings are 17-feet-high; four colors emphasize warm earth tones with some reds; equipment is displayed in three islands; and there is a "design center" where staff can help customers layout a room or rooms using a computer program to figure out how to best place the equipment.
"It's a little different look than most of your traditional exercise equipment stores," Talley said about the store located at the intersection of North Scottsdale Road and East Camelback Road across from Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall.
According to Life Fitness, the stores have no relationship to its own Omni Fitness stores, which will continue to focus their efforts in the Northeastern United States, where Omni will also soon open five new stores in Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.