Fernando Gomez, CEO
What inspired you to create Fistbells?
After completing my MBA, I found a passion in the process of product development. I started sketching unique product ideas and concepts based on industries and markets in which I had interest. Fitness is part of my daily lifestyle therefore the first product concepts were fitness products.
I became a personal trainer, certified by NASM and my favorite part was programs and workouts design. On a specific occasion, I was designing a shoulder workout and wanted to try alternative exercises. I normally performed a pulling/punching motion with the cable machine, but I wanted to find a more effective exercise for the same motion. I had performed a similar exercise with dumbbells, but I thought, ‘What if?’, which is how most of my brainstorming sessions begin. So, while at lunch, I sketched the first illustration of the Fistbells product concept idea and a light bulb came on.
Fistbell is the fourth fitness product concept I designed, but I thought it was very unique and decided to select it to launch my career as a product developer and entrepreneur.
What makes your product different from others on the market?
I continued to improve on the Fistbells product concept sketches; simultaneously, I started thinking of the product positioning in the fitness industry and market, following three key criteria as follows:
- Introduce a simple but unique and NEW fitness product
- Provide an alternative fitness-training platform
- Expand and complement the current hand held free-weight
For the third criterion, I see the differentiation as follows:Dumbbells: Dual sides weight and resistance distribution; kettlebells: Lower weight and resistance concentration; Fistbells: Top weight and resistance concentration
The introduction of Fistbells changes free weights as known to date; Fistbells expand the types of free weight devices available. As a hand held fitness device Fistbells offer an alternative functionally, basically complementing dumbbells and kettlebells, positioning them as a niche fitness device within the free weight category.
Fistbells enhance health club members’ experience as a niche fitness product and deliver value to the health clubs in terms of equipment variety. In addition to cardio, functional and strength training, Fistbells are ideal for punching motion exercises and MMA inspired training. The Fistbells’ unique weight distribution provides alternative muscle resistance and accommodates the motion for rotating push-ups exercises, differentiating them from dumbbells and kettlebells. Furthermore, Fistbells accommodate sliding exercises for core muscles.
How is the reality of starting your own company different from the dream of it?
This is great question! It’s been an uphill journey, but somehow still moving forward. From the design phase to identifying a manufacturer, as well as determining the final production process, launching Fistbells has been a learning process.
IHRSA 2012 was a great platform to launch the Fistbells brand. My main objective was to connect with representatives from health clubs and fitness facilities in charge of equipment purchasing. The outcome of the show was amazing; however, not exactly what I expected. There was also a lot of interest from distributors who ready to have Fistbells as part of their portfolio. We had setup operation to sell directly to health clubs, but currently we have to completely change strategies to serve distributors also, given the significant demand. This means having to change some supply partners and operational strategy, which also means more dollars. For small a company, this is a challenge; however, like I mentioned still moving forward.
On the other hand, we also had partnership requests from bigger and established companies in the industry. I am open to the opportunities this could bring, however, I am also aware of the risks involved. Nevertheless, my main objective is to make the brand successful and I would consider a partnership to achieve this objective.
How could specialty fitness retailers benefit from carrying your product?
Well like I mentioned earlier, Fistbells changes free weights as known to date. Fistbells expand the types of free weight devices available. However, with Fistbells it’s not just the product you have seen so far, its a brand.
There are products, which include other versions of Fistbells to come, Fistbells continuing education courses, including personal training certifications, and Fistbells accessories to accommodate unique exercises tailored for Fistbells’ functionality.
Fistbells are literally creating and establishing a sub-segment/market within the fitness industry. This provides tremendous opportunities to sports and fitness retailers.
What do you think specialty fitness retailers need to change in order to continue to be profitable?
Introduce Fistbells as part of their portfolio.
--Compiled by Ana Trujillo