Icon to intro package with tread, coaching, supplements, meal plans

Looking for a summer debut, Icon Health & Fitness will step up with a package that the company hopes will give consumers everything they need to help them succeed at fitness: a treadmill, coaching, daily meal plans, and a box of personalized vitamins and pills.

Looking for a summer debut, Icon Health & Fitness will step up with a package that the company hopes will give consumers everything they need to help them succeed at fitness: a treadmill, coaching, daily meal plans, and a box of personalized vitamins and pills.

Called the Total Fitness Solution under the brand name ProForm, the package plan will include a new ProForm 770 treadmill, which can also be bought separately.

“We’re trying to provide the consumer with everything he or she needs,” Jayme Shepherd, Icon spokeswoman, told SNEWS in the company’s private showroom at The Super Show in late January. “This is as close to the magic pill as we can get.”

The treadmill refines what Icon introduced several years ago in its iFit coaching CDs. The old iFit was perhaps ahead of its time since it demanded unwieldy cable hookups to iFit-compatible treadmills, the need for external CD players, and a sometimes finicky beep tone emitted by the CD to control the treadmill’s incline and speed. Great concept, technology perhaps not as consumer friendly as it needed to be. This treadmill takes the mechanics a huge step ahead--the treadmill has a built-in CD player on the console so the iFit coaching CDs, which not only act as personal trainers but also control the treadmill’s speed and incline for you, are easy to pop in and then can interface directly with the equipment. The treadmill also has built-in speakers for a personal feeling of interaction with the “coach’s” voice and instructions. The treadmill alone will retail for approximately $1,000 at sporting goods retailers, such as Dick’s and The Sports Authority, Shepherd said.

The rest of the package then is the “total” part of the “solution.” Consumers sign up for a monthly payment plan of what is expected to be about $40. That includes not only the payments on the treadmill and CD coaching, but also a computerized assessment of the person’s fitness level, and nutritional and diet needs. The user receives a workbook of sorts that describes all daily meals and snacks for eight weeks at a time. In addition, he or she also receives a 31-compartment plastic tray--much like the kind you find at hardware stores for nuts and bolts--filled with two packages of pills in each slot--one for morning and one for evening for each day. The pill assortment, according to Icon, is determined by the participant’s personal assessment and may include any variety of supplements from calcium to glucosamine, from folate to Vitamin C. The types of supplements included or desired will alter the price, Shepherd added, since some are more expensive than others.

SNEWS View: Buyers flocked around the platform at the show where the treadmill was being constantly demo’d with a backdrop of a large screen with a video loop pumping the program. With the consumer’s nearly desperate thirst for an easy, packaged “magic pill,” we foresee this program will fly quickly and broadly, although we all know there are no magic pills since all weight-loss and fitness-gain solutions aren’t magic but work, discipline and dedication. We wonder how accurate computerized assessments can be--no matter how well intended--and if they can detect possible medical and health concerns that may be exacerbated by certain supplements, foods or workouts. Liability of course is a concern here, and Icon is the epitome of the attorney’s beloved deep pocket. Of course, no matter how quickly the packages fly out the door and no matter how much money the company makes, we know it still won’t be as effortless as most of the American public wants, and we hope that Icon won’t publicize it only as glamorous and easy fitness. For many, this program’s treadmill may still turn a really large coat rack--that happens to come with a couple of doorstops too. Sad.



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