'The Biggest Loser' drives increase in water rower sales

Thanks to 'The Biggest Loser,' WaterRowers and Indo-Row machines are flying off specialty retailers' floors. Indo-Row inventor Josh Crosby offers SNEWS some insight on the trend, and offers advice to stores that don't yet carry the products.
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There’s a lot of buzz about the Indo-Row, a specialized product from WaterRower, on Twitter and Facebook these days -- mostly because contestants on "The Biggest Loser" have been kicking their own asses on the machine in the current season of the NBC series.

We all know what this means for specialty retailers that sell not just Indo-Row, but any type of fluid flywheel filled rower: increased business. The retailers to whom SNEWS spoke couldn't confirm that higher sales correlated purely to such celebrity status, but they have their suspicions.

Tyler Pedersen, a sales associate for the Denver, Colo. HealthStyles said he's having a hard time keeping WaterRowers in stock because customers keep coming in and saying they’ve seen the rowers on "The Biggest Loser."

Whenever the news or a television show picks up on a product, customers come calling for it, said Jon McGough, manager for a Montgomeryville, Pa. Leisure Fitness store.

“Whenever we have a product, or when a product is on 'The Biggest Loser' or on national television, there’s a pretty big surge in sales of that product,” McGough said. “Customers become much more aware of it. In the case of WaterRowers, they think if a 500-pound person could use it and lose serious weight on it, they can too.”

McGough recently watched the phenomenon unfold with the ElliptiGo, a stand-up outdoor elliptical that works like a bike. McGough said people have come in and asked for that product, which SNEWS previously wrote about here. He’s sold six of ElliptiGos since it was featured on "Good Morning America."

“Whenever it’s on TV or in the news, people think, ‘I’ve got to have it,’” McGough said.

While WaterRower in general is benefitting from Indo-Row’s TV appearances, Indo-Row is its own product, said one inventor, Josh Crosby, a competitive rower and triathlete.

The product was part of a total body exercise program Crosby developed with the same name back in 2004 for which he used WaterRowers. He liked the WaterRowers, but felt he needed a more specialized item for his the Indo-Row classes. So he designed one, went to WaterRower and partnered with the company to make them in the U.S.A.

Crosby said he prides himself on the fun of the “nonintimidating” courses and the ease with which the Indo-Row can be used and stored. It’s portable, he said, and lightweight (compared to other rowers), which makes it better for group and home use. Plus, unlike some other rowers, it incorporates a monorail versus a duorail and an extra-comfortable seat.

“The individual machine itself has been used for group exercise, for personal training, circuit classes and home use,” Crosby explained, adding that the machine is as close as it gets to the feel of actually rowing on the water. This is what McGough said intrigues people about the Indo-Row and WaterRowers in general.

“The realistic feel of the water is something that appeals to many people,” McGough said.

Crosby explained that the water is what makes the workout so different from a regular fan or motorized rower.

“The water is the resistance in the machine and this is what differentiates Indo-Row and WaterRowers from so many others,” Crosby explained. “The tank of water creates the resistance and the harder you push and pull, the more resistance you feel. It’s similar to being on a boat in the water.”

Plus, the sound is more relaxing than that of a machine at work, all you can hear, he said, is the sound of the water.

For specialty fitness retailers looking to cash in on this recent trend, Crosby advises education on the benefits of rowing and the aspects of the products they are selling.

“Really feel free to ask us about how to better educate people about the benefits of rowing or do your own homework on it and experience it yourself,” Crosby said. “Come visit us at a show so we can show you what it’s all about because I think once people get turned onto it there’s no going back.”

--Ana Trujillo

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