With the clink of champagne and martini glasses, Nautilus officially launched at the IHRSA show a new endeavor called the Nautilus Institute with a goal of providing research and promoting fitness to help consumers become more educated about developing fit and healthy lifestyles.
"The institute's mission is to motivate and to educate for lifelong results," Buzz Truitt, institute head and company director of education, told SNEWSÂ®.
Launched at a special reception March 17 at a posh restaurant in San Francisco, the location of this year's IHRSA show, the institute will be funded for the next five years by Nautilus with $10 million for research and education. Working with the institute on research will be the Sports Performance Clinic at the University of California, Davis, led by Eric Heiden, M.D., five-time Olympic speed skating champion turned orthopedic surgeon, and Massimo Testa, Ph.d., renowned sports exercise physiologist for world-class athletes, including runners, triathletes and cyclists. Heiden and Testa made an appearance at the evening post-show reception telling several hundred invite-only attendees that they jumped at the opportunity to do objective research.
"This is the chance for the University of California, Davis, Sports Performance Clinic to lend credence to the exercise equipment industry," Heiden said in an approximately seven-minute introductory video shown to the gathered industry VIPs and media.
Also on the advisory board are exercise instructors and master trainers Jay Blahnik, Keli Roberts and Tom Purvis.
"We want to re-examine exercise from top to bottom," Purvis said at the reception.
The video stressed the institutes' theme, "Start smart, stay smart, do it for life."
"We want to have a clear understanding of how people are interfacing with the fitness industry today," Truitt told SNEWSÂ®. Â
Truitt said research by the institute may look at different exercise methods and equipment to help consumers decide which is really best for them at different stages, but it could also suggest someone best start without equipment. In the long run, the goal would be to indeed help people start and stick with exercise.
"This helps people make appropriate decisions," said Ron Arp, senior vice president of communications for Nautilus. "We don't care if they ride a bike or go walking. We want them to just move."
The institute has been in planning for about six to eight months. The reception at the IHRSA show debuted the concept to the commercial industry; another kick-off for fitness instructors and trainers is slated for the IDEA conference for fitness professionals the first week of July in Las Vegas. Arp said company sales reps will begin this summer to pass information on to Nautilus retailers. Consumers should begin to see information, ads and promotion in the fall. They will be directed to the website, www.nautilusinstitute.org, for more information.
Institute research will be available to all, no matter what walk of life or what company they come from, Arp said. Naturally, Nautilus will be the first to see it and results could help the company, or its competitors, develop product that better suits consumers' needs, he added.
â€œThrough the Nautilus Institute, we will conduct research, convene experts, provide helpful guidance, and develop and support programs that can change peoples' behavior for a lifetime," said Gregg Hammann, Nautilus chairman, CEO and president. "Our ultimate goal is to educate, create excitement and accelerate category growth, from which we can all benefit.â€
SNEWSÂ® View: We hope, we pray, we cross our fingers and hope to die that this institute will indeed be and will become all that is said with the backdrop of oysters on the half shell and Blue Curacao martinis. If, if, if done correctly, the institute could be a wonderful, respected, much-lacking addition to the industry that could feed professionals, clubs and retailers with information that can also educate consumers. Although branded with the Nautilus name, the research and information should have -- we hope will have -- a bi-partisan approach. Yes, that's possible -- if the institute is left to do what it can do best without a lot of corporate involvement like the model set many years ago by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. That group has the Gatorade name, but it is staffed by world-renown and widely published and respected sports scientists, and it releases regular studies that benefit all. Naturally, it also benefits its namesake â€“ heck, the namesake gives the money to keep it going, so why not? â€“ but it is not biased or slanted toward that company alone. Check out www.gssiweb.com, in case you're interested. We know there is skepticism, even cynicism, that this won't be able to reach that pinnacle, but allow us to be cock-eyed optimists for a moment in our hope that this industry can indeed reach beyond itself, finally, for the good of all. We will be watching.