FreeMotion Fitness set to debut specialty retail line at HFB show, seeks retailers

After a year of work, the curtain is about to pull back on FreeMotion Fitness' premiere of its line of cardiovascular and strength equipment geared for specialty retail.
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After a year of work, the curtain is about to pull back on FreeMotion Fitness' premiere of its line of cardiovascular and strength equipment geared for specialty retail.

Set to show for the first time at the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver, Aug. 2-4, the company has also taken on the event's title sponsorship and moved from a booth toward the back of the hall to a larger space in the front row in a can't-miss location next to on-floor registration.

The goal is not only to make a splash with its 20 pieces of new equipment but also to build out the retailer network with contacts at the show, especially among those businesses that also have a commercial side and sales force, company representatives told SNEWS®, which announced the strategy in an Oct. 23, 2006, story, "FreeMotion Fitness embarking on new retail strategy."

"Everything is FreeMotion-based," said Pat McGinnis, director of the company's retail segment, who came to FreeMotion, which is owned by Icon Fitness, nearly a year ago from his position as vice president of sales at Raleigh, the parent of Diamondback Fitness. "It is FreeMotion. It's not Icon, and this product and brand is dedicated to the specialty fitness channel.

"We've been very well-received by the retailers we've talked to," McGinnis said. "People are excited about the potential."

The company will not mince around at its debut, showing about a dozen cardio pieces and about eight strength pieces. Treadmills will range from MSRPs of $1,800 to $4,600, with the top piece being its Incline Trainer with a peak grade of 30 percent. Ellipticals will have MSRPs of $1,600 to $2,600. Stationary bikes will range from $800 to $2,100. A hero strength piece offered will be a take-down for the home market of FreeMotion's Dual Cable Cross piece, which will have a smaller footprint (34 inches wide, 60 inches long) and less height (84 inches) and will have a MSRP of $3,200.

What will make the line different?

>> Rear drive treadmills – The company's Incline Trainer is one piece, which like two of its treadmills, will have a rear drive, instead of the industry-standard front motor under the console area. According to the company, that setup pulls rather than pushes the belt and offers a more consistent tension while running cooler and quieter and therefore extending the life of the motor.

>> Modular gym – With both a home and light commercial warranty, each station can stand on its own or be bolted together for up to five pieces. Three more pieces will be added to the system later.

>> iFit compatibility – All cardio pieces will be compatible with Icon's iFit interactive training programs, giving the user instruction and ideas about what to do. The system can lead a user through a test and then base programs on the results of that fitness test.

>> Integrated entertainment and MP3 ports – The option allows users to plug in their own MP3 and control sound from the console. One higher-end treadmill comes standard with the system.

>> Workout Program cards – The pieces will have a slot for users to insert cards that contain a 12-week workout program. Additional cards and workouts will be available by special order through its retailers, meaning customers will have a reason to come back to the store.

"The hardest thing is to get people to your stores," McGinnis said. "Anything to get them back is a good thing."

SNEWS® View: Obviously, the supplier side at this point has a lot of players -- perhaps too many -- and this only adds yet another. But if FreeMotion can bring innovation, good looks and good margins to retailers, they will come aboard -- maybe to the detriment of others. Despite a slow cycle at retail now, company representatives have pushed ahead with the launch, and have said that the specialty retail channel remains viable and in fact will become more viable in the future. We'll be interested to see, touch and test the equipment.

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