Email thread over alleged fitness product dispute reaches far and wide

A summer email chain that was forwarded far and wide in the fitness industry made a personal dispute involving several fitness accessory brands, including Today’s Fitness and Twist Conditioning, into a very public squabble. SNEWS got the emails, too, and took a look at the who, why and wherefore.

Email. It’s made it possible to say everything you need to say in a few minutes of typing and a split-second click of the send button. But sometimes that ease can turn what should be a private conversation to an embarrassing – and very public -- email thread.

Over the past year, numerous fitness industry professionals have received lengthy emails from Ed Dilbeck, the owner of now-defunct Today’s Fitness Products, which specialized in sleeved tubing products. And they have been left scratching their heads in confusion. In the emails, which some call “bizarre,” Dilbeck airs his grievances with Peter Twist of Twist Conditioning and Benny Park for what seems to be a business deal that allegedly went bad.

“Candidly, I’m not familiar with all the background that they’re referring to,” said Andy Tompkins, vice president of the Health & Fitness Business Expo whose executives have been copied on the emails since early summer.

‘They’re trying to air out a difference, and they’re sort of asking for an audience or a jury to kind of work through their issues. The reality is it’s really between the parties on the email.”

“It appears a possible planned and concerted effort was waged by Peter Twist and Benny Park to “alleviate” me, Ed Dilbeck, of continuing to stay in business with sleeved tubing products,” Dilbeck wrote in a mass email generically addressed to “Fitness Industry Professional.”

Tompkins said in all his years working in the fitness industry, he’s never seen e-squabbling like this. He has stopped reading the emails, he said, and hasn’t received any new ones in a few weeks. Tompkins said he thinks Dilbeck simply cc’ed everybody he could think of in the fitness industry in order to air his grievances on a convoluted issue. And, with the beauty of a nano-second-click of the forward button, all those people forwarded the sometimes bizarre, sometimes comical, always entertaining thread to others.

“I’ve tried to stay out of it,” Tompkins said. 

David Griffin of Oxygenfit has also been copied on the emails, but unlike Tompkins, he responded to Dilbeck and, in return, received a few heated responses before he stopped writing back. This one was from June 12, 2011:

“Please indicate where to send the check for the psycho analysis (sic) you have so thoroughly provided. Obviously you must regularly attend counseling sessions to display such eloquent descriptions and concise recommendations.”

Griffin echoed Tompkins saying, “I’ve been in this industry for 28 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.” 

Dilbeck declined comment to SNEWS about the reasoning behind the public email squabble. “My attorney says I can’t speak to anybody about it,” he said. He does write in one of the emails in the chain, though: 

“I forgave Benny Park, Peter Twist and others involved with this conspiracy long ago but there is no possible way I’m going to continue to sit back and say nothing as they make a mockery of the fitness industry by profiting from lies, deception, unethical and irresponsible deeds.”

He doesn’t explain what those deeds were.

The main targets of the emails – Twist and Park – did not return multiple requests for interviews from SNEWS.

Griffin said he’s been receiving the emails for nearly a year. He explained he used to do business with Dilbeck when he was working at another company that he declined to name. Griffin said he had a good relationship with Dilbeck back when he worked for the prior company, but after choosing not to purchase sleeved tubing products from Dilbeck when he opened his own company, the relationship got rocky. Then the emails starting coming years later, Griffin said.

“I felt really sad for him,” Griffin said. “I was concerned, and then I responded to one or two with some advice and got a reply that was very explosive and aggressive. I even reached out and gave him a call and said, ‘Ed, you’ve got to calm down and let this go and move on with your life.’ ” 

“I take major offense to your statement ‘just a lot of old energy which doesn’t have to be stirred up,’” Griffin wrote. “That “just a lot of old energy” was my family’s livelihood!"

On June 11, Dilbeck forwarded to the chain a response to the emails from Peter Twist. 

“Wow – that is a meaty message – too long to read all thru (sic) but sounds a little toxic,” Twist wrote. “I hope you can find a good path of good energy in a new day."

Later in the message, Twist seemed to express frustration.

“I don’t appreciate the negative and misleading comment, and is not fair to push that out to industry contacts,” he wrote.

Mainly, people just want the emails to stop, they told SNEWS, and they want Dilbeck to resolve the issue without using what has become a public forum.

Griffin, in one responses in the email thread, wrote, “I sense that you believe these emails are driving a purpose – they are not.”

-- Ana Trujillo