Anyone who knows Ilan Katz, former vice president at Fitness Headquarters, knows he does what he says. When he left the Texas retailer to head to the shores of Florida last fall, and he told SNEWS(r) he would open a specialty store in the first quarter of 2004, we couldn't wait to hear more.
We didn't have to wait long: Exercise Solutions will open the week of Feb. 2 in North Miami with Landice, SportsArt America, Body-Solid, Life Span and LeMond Fitness, as well as a "tremendous" number of accessories by Spri, said president and owner Katz as he was still trying to finalize floor and dÃ©cor details and wrap up equipment shipments.
"The concept behind Exercise Solutions is, we are a solutions provider," Katz said. "We want to move away from the commodity perspective. It takes quite a bit of one-on-one work with anybody to find the right product for them. Long term that benefits the consumer, that benefits me, and that benefits the industry.
"It's important to take a long-term perspective," he stressed.
Exercise Solutions is in North Miami (area household income average of $94,000!) and is a relatively small 1,620 square feet. But it is where Katz said he will "begin to grow the company." His store will look a bit different, he said, describing it as "modern" using the primary colors of black and red, "colorful," "bright" and "fun." His closest specialty fitness competitor is a Busy Body/Gyms to Go store on South Dixie Highway only a few miles away.
Why Florida? Not only could Katz target a growing major metroplex with good demographics, he said, but top manufacturers were still available to him in the area. He stressed that he left Fitness HQ on good terms, was always treated well, and had superior freedom and latitude there. Still, he said he just felt he was ready to go out on his own.
"There are a tremendous number of retailers and manufacturers doing a pretty good job or a great job even. There is so much parity, and there needs to be some other tie-breaker to make a consumer buy from a particular store," said Katz, who began more than 21 years ago in the fitness industry as a wet-behind-the-ears salesperson.
"Ultimately, you are solving the problem the customer has," he explained about his philosophy. "Everybody has a problem, and what they want is a solution, and I want to provide that solution."
SNEWS View: We sure like the thought behind and his use of the word "solution." That's ultimately what fitness is all about -- a solution to how we look, feel, perform, think, behave or interact. We look forward to watching Katz as he channels his high energy and high integrity into the business.