Never heard of Volume Fitness? No problem, the brand-new equipment manufacturer is just now turning up the dial so everybody will hear about it.
Although a specialty retail fitness supplier, the company debuted at the IHRSA trade show earlier this month to make contacts with distributors and retailers. Its big debut will be at the Health & Fitness Business show in Denver in July.
Although Volume Fitness (www.volumefitness.com) is still enhancing and fine-tuning the line it will show this summer, the company has introduced 11 products, including four treadmills, three ellipticals, and three bikes (upright and recumbent).
The big question one might ask, though, is how smart it is to go into business right about the time the economy is storming badly and fitness retailers and manufacturers all over are tightening their belts.
“It’s a great time to go into the business,” President Dan Binford told SNEWS® in an interview to discuss the launch. “Larger companies have more overhead and expenses than we do and are pulling back. We’re small, young and aggressive. Even though there’s a storm out there, we’ll come out well.”
Binford and head sales rep Erick Anderson both have a lot of years in the fitness industry on several fronts, and they point to the features the brand is offering on its line of mid- to higher-end equipment, the fact that they are themselves designing all the components, and a factory is making the equipment to their specifications. Volume gets its name from “VO2” or the volume of oxygen used during exercise, although a slogan used is “Turn it up.”
It all started with Binford, whose Fitness First company was exporting and distributing equipment for many brands including Trimline, had customers around the globe who needed to replace the Trimline brand when Nautilus cancelled it about two years ago. He began coming up with the concepts, designs and software, and in January 2007 delivered his first orders to customers in Thailand, Austrialia and the Philippines. He has since added customers in Asia and South America. He also laid the groundwork in Europe and achieved CE status and TUV certification, has a patent pending on his fold-up treadmill and a couple of patents pending on the ellipticals.
“It was a natural fit,” he said, since he had the Trimline customers. “We’re trying to come into that high-end home market.”
MSRPs range from $1,000 to $2,000 for bikes, from $1,500 to $2,700 for ellipticals, and from $1,800 to $3,100 for treadmills. An optional 7-inch flat panel screen in the console runs another $400. Plus, to help dealers with inventory management, they have four treadmill bases and four consoles that can be switched out as needed, depending on the features a customer wants.
A few key features:
>> Now only on the treadmills is something they call “iFollow.” That program shows six different upper-body movements, such as swinging arms or boxing arms, and a blinking light rotates randomly to light up the different icons. A user then follows the instructions to not only increase the workout but to also entertain and distract them a bit too.
“Getting on a treadmill is difficult,” Anderson said, “and it’s important to entertain the user.”
>> All models also have a standard FM Radio feature with built-in speakers and a headphone jack. Higher-end models also have audio-visual capabilities so users can watch TV or DVDs or hook up an MP3 Player to a jack.
“A lot of people don’t want to mess around with an iPod,” said Anderson, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
>> A progressive cushioning system on the treadmills has three zones, softer in the front for landing, medium in the middle, and more firm to the rear.
>> Ellipticals have manually adjustable stride lengths from either 19-21 inches or 18-22 inches, depending on the model. One model can be adjusted to allow a vertical stepper motion.
>> Warranties for residential use are 30-5-1, with a one-time transfer allowed to another home user with original proof-of-purchase registered with the company’s warranty department.
Binford stressed that the company’s emphasis is on specialty retailers, and they are currently looking for retailers. By Denver, they will have some retailers in key markets but expect to still be open to additional retailers.
“This is all about the dealer network,” Binford said. “We’re looking for retailers.”
SNEWS® View: Boy, seems like a questionable time to launch a new equipment supplier, but they’re confident and they do have some different features. So with a ship that’s run tight enough and patience to weather the economic storm, they could be here for while – especially with the experience of the management team.