Johnny G returns with upper-body “Kranking,” partners with Matrix in IHRSA debut

Johnny G, known for the power and passion behind transforming the mundane activity of cycling in place with a group into a worldwide phenomenon, has teamed with Matrix Fitness to debut his newest brainchild -- Kranking -- at the 2008 IHRSA show March 6-8. Simply put, Kranking is stationary upper-body exercise on a new piece of equipment called a Krankcycle.
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Johnny G, known for the power and passion behind transforming the mundane activity of cycling in place with a group into a worldwide phenomenon, has teamed with Matrix Fitness to debut his newest brainchild -- Kranking -- at the 2008 IHRSA show March 6-8.

Simply put, Kranking is a stationary upper-body exercise on a new piece of equipment called a Krankcycle. No lower body involved. No pedaling, no stepping, no treading. Just upper-body “cycling” with the exerciser’s arms that can be done either sitting or standing.

Upper Body Ergometers (UBEs) are already sold by a few companies. They are mostly yawn-producing devices that sit in hospitals, physical therapy clinics or clubs in a lonely corner and aren’t exactly considered an exciting option by most.

The Krankcycle, however, and its training program, with Johnny G in the lead and ClubOne’s Jim Karanas developing programming, will be all but boring, promised Mark Zabel, Matrix director of product development and marketing.

“We have Johnny and Jim,” Zabel told SNEWS®. “Plus their spirit and passion. That inspired us.

“UBEs have no soul,” he added. “They’re sterile, they’re clunky. And they’re expensive.”

Johnny G (which stands for Goldberg) approached the Matrix team nearly a year ago about his concept and the product, which he envisioned but was engineered by Carl Gramberg and had been nearly five years in the works. It took until last summer for the entire Matrix team to make its way to Santa Barbara, Calif., to hear Johnny’s schpiel and try a short class.

“We thought, ‘It’s just another UBE,’” Zabel said. “But it’s not. This has the drive and passion of Johnny G and his team. It’s different. And everybody is looking for that.”

It didn’t take long for Matrix to start talking to Johnny more seriously about an exclusive U.S. partnership and debut. Meanwhile, Johnny refined the program, teaching pilot classes at ClubOne branches in Southern California last fall before branching into other ClubOne outlets in the Golden State, all the while using hand-built cycles since production models weren’t ready to go.

Although the program will debut at IHRSA in San Diego, the cycles themselves won’t be available until late 2008, Zabel said. They will list for about $1,700, making them competitively priced with indoor cycles as well as within reach for the home market.

“We want to make this thing right,” Zabel said. “If we create the excitement and awareness we think we can, the pent-up interest” will continue during the year.

The Krankcycle uses an adjustable, variable-resistance mechanism connected to a floating flywheel. With several pending design patents, it is the industry’s first upper-body rotational fitness product with independent crank arms. Each of the Krankcycle’s height-adjustable “krankarms,” as they are called, can drive the unit, but because one arm cannot assist the other, Matrix said the product provides a more balanced workout.

Not intended to be a stand-alone class, the Kranking programs usually will utilize “fusion” training using other equipment such as bikes in something akin to a circuit. According to a quote by Johnny G on the website, www.krankcycle.com, “The Krankcycle competes with nothing, yet complements everything.”

Matrix has not been known for on-the-edge programs or personas, but rather for solid, high-end product, if not a conservative style. How will the character only Johnny G can be with his hair, eyes, intent focus, spiritual nature and out-of-the-box thinking and teaching style mesh with Matrix?

“That’s his persona -- something that Matrix has never had,” Zabel said. “What we all share is the extreme passion for health and fitness.”

Demos will be held during the show at the Krankcycle booth across from the Matrix booth.

“We’re incredibly excited,” Zabel said. “It’s going to bring a lot of attention -- now, that’s an understatement -- to both Johnny and to Matrix.”

Also at the show Matrix will debut its new exclusive partnership with Tomahawk indoor cycles -- its foray back into indoor cycling since Matrix and X-Biking parted ways nearly three years ago -- plus a new functional trainer, as well as a big ol’ Harley motorcycle it will raffle with proceeds going to Augie’s Quest.



SNEWS® View:
It will be a whole new world at Matrix once Johnny G starts visualizing his way through Kranking classes, pumping up the music’s beat, and floating among students to look into their eyes and drive them to dig deeper in a way only Johnny G can. That’s not a bad thing. For anybody. If this can take off and attract clubs, trainers, teachers and followers as the Spinning program he created did, it will be good for the fitness industry in general, creating a buzz about something new. We’ll have to try a Kranking class to pass full judgment but we are skeptical that Johnny G or Matrix execs would get behind something that wasn’t biomechanically or physiologically sound. Stay tuned both to SNEWS® as well as to consumer press. If this goes like it could, it won’t be long before newspapers and magazines start writing it up.

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