Hansen Fitness divides businesses; launches VR ‘gamer’ cardio series

Three years after moving into equipment development and a year after launching his own equipment line, Dale Hansen is stepping back to what he said he does best: R&D and sales. He will focus on a “virtual realty” line of equipment he called “gamer.” What’s next? We’ll tell you.
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Three years after moving into equipment development and a year after launching his own equipment line, Dale Hansen is stepping back to what he said he does best: R&D and sales.

Med-Fit Systems -- which has been the sole manufacturer and distributor of Nautilus Commercial for a year -- will now work directly with Hansen’s Taiwanese manufacturer, Hansen told SNEWS®. And Hansen will become a customer of Med-Fit’s for the “base units” he needs to fully develop his gaming equipment (www.virtualrealitycardio.com).

“My specialty is really R&D,” Hansen said. “We found out that trying to market Hansen Fitness Equipment is a huge task.”

A year ago, Hansen had announced lofty goals of equipment lines and retail franchising, but realized the needs were gargantuan. (Click here to see an April 5, 2010, SNEWS story, “Hansen Fitness steps beyond retail to equipment design, future store franchising.”) Hansen, who opened Indiana’s Hansen Fitness store in 1994, said at that time he had recently realized he wanted to take his store concept and franchise it. The problem was, without at least half of the product sold being private label, he said, that wasn’t possible because of supplier-retailer alliances.

“The only way I was going to be consistent was to have my own line,” Hansen told SNEWS for that story. “That way you’d have control…market control. Plus, you could also customize to what one region’s customers want.”

That started Hansen on the path of product development under the name of Hansen Technologies (www.hansentechnologies.net). He officially unveiled the nascent line of five pieces -- one elliptical, two treadmills and one each upright and recumbent bikes -- to the industry in spring 2010. The suite of commercial equipment (lists $3,300-$7,000) emphasizes interactive gaming and integrates current market brands, such as Wii and Nintendo, using his large displays.

Now, he said, he’ll focus on the gaming, using the equipment he’ll acquire from Med-Fit’s relationship with his manufacturer of choice. The “gamer” pieces, with multiple patents pending, he said, will be customized in look and feel and can also be branded for individual retailers.

“This is phenomenal,” he said. “This is what I’ve been waiting for. I can go back and focus on what I’m good at -- product development and sales.”

According to the VR equipment website, the equipment will be exhibited at the coming IHRSA show, March 16-19, in San Francisco.

--Therese Iknoian

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