SNEWS Qs: Lifecore's Roger Bates talks new cardio for CrossFit

Lifecore will launch a new stationary cycle meant to zero in on some of that booming CrossFit business.

Usually Roger Bates and his fitness equipment company Lifecore are staples at the upcoming Health and Fitness Business Expo, but this year they will be absent. Mostly, he said, it is because he gets a bigger return on his investment at shows like IHRSA and Athletic Business Conference (ABC).

Fitness Equipment

Lifecore and Bates are going into this fitness trade show season with a new stationary cycle product designed specifically with the CrossFit community in mind.

Bates talks to SNEWS about his new product, the longevity of the CrossFit craze and offers some insight to what retailers can do get more customers in their doors.

Tell us about your new product, Assault Air Bike?
It’s a full body air bike with a custom designed console for high-intensity interval training [HIIT] that can stand up to hours of pounding. Our Assault Air Bike is designed with a chain drive for maximum performance. The seat has been designed for athletes. The arms are robust and especially designed for max force. We have put a lot of thought and testing into the watts reading that will stand up to any protocol for accuracy.

Our frame has been reinforced for strength and rust prohibiting. The cranks and bottom bracket have been designed from the experience of a bicycle engineer. The resistance mechanism has been patented and is infinite, which means the harder and faster you pedal and pull, the more resistance you get. The Assault Air Bike has a total of 25 sealed bearings in the pivot points. We have designed this bike for full commercial applications.

You say the bike was embraced by the CrossFit community, how so?
We took our bike to the CrossFit games in July and allowed the CrossFit community to challenge our bike and had over 500 athletes put it to the test with an overwhelming response. Our bike was just featured in WOD Talk magazine as one of the best new products for the CrossFit community. Our bike will be endorsed by some of CrossFit’s major athletes next month.

Was it designed specifically with CrossFit in mind?
Yes, and also performance training athletes of all levels. The CrossFit community currently only uses a rower for cardio and have now embraced an additional piece of fitness equipment. I will continue to find products that make sense within this community.

Is CrossFit a fad or do you believe it's here to stay?
I believe this community has deep roots and will not go away but grow to over 10,000 boxes (gyms) in the next few years. We have already signed up distributors all over the world. I do not see CrossFit slowing down any time in the near future.

What are some of the biggest trends in the fitness industry right now?
Functional training remains to be strong which includes kettle bells, core training products, yoga gear and Olympic lifting shoes.

What are some trends you see emerging that haven't yet hit the consumer market?
The athletic shoe business can be very lucrative for the specialty retail fitness business. Recovery seems to be a product category no one is paying attention to right now. Products that help athletes and normal every-day fitness users get well. Quick question to ask yourself — do I have any injuries and where do I buy products that help me recover? Getting customers back in our stores should be our main focus.

What are some challenges the industry is currently facing?
In my opinion, our industry waits too long for the next big thing rather than being a forward thinker. We need to be more nimble and adjust our sales and marketing strategies to be more proactive instead of reactive.

How do you advise retailers profit from the rise in popularity of CrossFit?
Log on to the CrossFit website and look at the affiliate section in their community and call every box and introduce yourself. Sell products they are looking for. Remember, at each CrossFit box you have 200 or more members that will one day need to buy something for their home fitness needs and recovery.

Do you think CrossFit is helping or hindering the specialty fitness retail market?
The members of CrossFit are becoming more educated on fitness in general and maybe not helping the larger ticket items, but they're definitely helping awareness in health and fitness overall.