Bodyguard cancels strength line, still on track despite changes

Only two years after acquiring the Newton Strength line, Bodyguard Fitness has announced it is canceling the manufacture and distribution of all strength-training equipment to focus on its cardiovascular line.

Only two years after acquiring the Newton Strength line, Bodyguard Fitness has announced it is canceling the manufacture and distribution of all strength-training equipment to focus on its cardiovascular line.

That comes as the company maintains it is still on track to implement plans it began about a year ago to revamp, expand and improve its equipment -- plans that have been delayed somewhat with continuing management changes in the wake of the recent departure of general manager Denis Jutras.

"We continually look at the industry and make adjustments to our plan accordingly," Dave Taylor, Bodyguard's North American sales manager, told SNEWS®. "We inherited some things here, and we have had to adjust along the way.

"We are addressing cardio equipment across the board. We have had a good reputation for treadmills, but we are lagging in certain categories," Taylor added. "We need to continue improving our elliptical and bike lines."

The announcement on July 18 that Bodyguard would exit strength came from company owner and CEO Raymond Dutil, who is also acting as interim general manager for Bodyguard. A spokeswoman told SNEWS® that Bodyguard is working on replacing Jutras and filling that position as soon as possible. Jutras had a year ago just been named general manager to take over for Jack Landry when he retired. Landry had that position since Bodyguard was acquired by Canada's Procycle eight years ago.

Part of the company's plan is to pick up the pace in certain product categories, although now not all necessarily by this year's Health & Fitness Business Show despite having that hope last year (See SNEWS® story, Dec. 2, 2004, "New image, products in the works for Bodyguard"). Some will however still be shown.

"I am very proud of the work done by the Bodyguard team in getting to where we are today," Dutil said in the announcement. "Their efforts have given us the opportunity to introduce an exciting product line-up at the Heath & Fitness Business Show in August. We are confident these new products will be very well received by industry experts and consumers alike."

Taylor added that even with the changes, the company has kept its dealers in the loop and most of them are still on board and pleased.

"Since we instituted changes in our sales force and management, our dealers are actually more informed and involved," Taylor said. "We are doing some different things with products and warranties this year and will continue developing our position in the market. New dealers and those that have sold Bodyguard in the past should be pleased with the direction we are heading."

Bodyguard said it will continue to honor the warranties on all Newton and Bodyguard strength products.

SNEWS® View: We have heard off and on for months about changes and reshuffling happening north of the border at Bodyguard. Now, it is bucking the industry trend and actually retrenching from an attempt to become full-line, with both cardiovascular and strength equipment. We recall when Newton was shown proudly at the HFB show in August 2003 and when the name was mostly changed in 2004 to Bodyguard Strength. Now, this. Still, it likely is a good idea for a small company that is working to discover its true place in the lineup of other equipment companies -- ranks that in the last few years has grown even more with the likes of Lifespan, Bladez and Fitness Master, all of whom are pushing hard. Bodyguard now returns to its forte -- solid, well-priced cardiovascular equipment, which is the Procycle company's heritage with bikes under the name Rocky Mountain.

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