Hoist enters sporting goods with BodyGear gyms

Hoist Fitness Systems, known for its premium home gyms and strength-training equipment that sell mostly at specialty retail, will introduce a line of four home gyms called BodyGear in January at approximately 50 stores in The Sports Authority family.
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Hoist Fitness Systems, known for its premium home gyms and strength-training equipment that sell mostly at specialty retail, will introduce a line of four home gyms called BodyGear in January at approximately 50 stores in The Sports Authority family.

The line, labeled for launch as "BodyGear by Hoist," will retail for $700 to $1,300, with an optional leg press available for $350. The company will formerly introduce it at The Super Show in Orlando, Fla., in January.

"We only deal in premium products, and we felt we could provide a Chevy (to sporting goods) without interfering with our Cadillac (specialty) dealerships," Hoist CEO Jeff Partrick told SNEWS®.

"Sporting goods dealers have begun selling higher-quality cardiovascular equipment. They're even selling treadmills up to $2,000 now," said Partrick. "Now they're going to do something similar with their strength equipment product offering."

The sporting goods gyms differ in several ways from the San Diego, Calif.-based, company's specialty lines, including its new V5 series debuting now at specialty, by using thinner gauge steel, less total weight in stacks that are not expandable, bolted parts, and partial shields instead of full shields on stacks. Nevertheless, they will include features not always available on many gyms now sold at sporting goods retailers, including welded foot caps instead of plastic ones that fall off, an optional leg press attachment, and integrated exercise flip charts.

"The product fills a void," said Travis Hitt, owner of MDS sales and marketing services, who helped arrange the deal with The Sports Authority. "It's good quality at fair prices."

Hitt said a quality line at lower prices will help more consumers enjoy exercise enough to stick with it, rather than giving up if they just have cheap, wobbly, uncomfortable equipment to start on. If they enjoy working out, he said, they will eventually want to spend more and move up to products available only at specialty.

"There is a clear separation between this and specialty lines in features and benefits," Hitt added.

The BodyGear series starts with the entry-level G10 gym ($700), then progresses to the G20 that includes a converging-arm press ($900), the G30 with a traditional fixed pressing arm ($1,100), and the G40 with a multi-function arm for decline, incline, flat and shoulder press exercises ($1,300).

In addition, there is a five-position, fold-up, transportable workout bench ($100). Hoist representatives said they plan further introductions and line expansions, but they maintained the core of Hoist's business will remain in the specialty market.

"Specialty is still our established market, and we'd never do anything to jeopardize that," Partrick added. "This is a broadening of the Hoist brand.

"In the end this is good for specialty and sporting goods," he said, "since it's increasing the Hoist brand recognition through the introduction of quality products to both channels."

SNEWS View: We know, we know, we can hear it now from specialty dealers who are worried about yet another of "their" brands tapping into the sales opportunities in the sporting goods arena and perhaps harming their sales. We do understand these concerns, but someone who wants a $700 gym (especially if that's the utterly eeking high end of the price range for them) just isn't going to end up in specialty stores ready to drop $1,500 -- or double or triple that. So it's a broadening of the potential customer base: Get someone on a piece that feels pretty decent and doesn't break or turn into a clothes rack in eight weeks, and the fitness market as a whole may gain a long-term customer who will eventually spend more, including at specialty. Of course, the caveat is for Hoist to make sure the lines are truly differentiated AND to make sure customers know where to go (i.e., specialty) when they want more or better equipment. And that holds true for the other brands, both cardiovascular and strength, that introduce lower-priced sporting goods or mass-merchant lines.

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