Taking a page from a few other new and now-successful companies before it, Torque Fitness elected to make its official launch during the Health & Fitness Business trade show in a hotel room at the Holiday Inn, located just across from the Denver Convention Center. Though not an official part of the show, the company sent out formal invites to key retailers and press it knew would be attending the show.
After the official show closed on Aug. 4, the SNEWS® team tucked in to see the former Parabody and now Torque Fitness gang with prototypes of four of its five models it planned to debut at retail by October as we wrote in our first story in March 2006 (click here to read "Torque Fitness to reunite much of Parabody team"). We know now that the first container of equipment landed mid-September and its hand-selected group of eight to 10 retailers would have Torque gyms on their floors by the end of this month.
After spending 30 minutes with the president, the ever-energetic Pete Borchert, we came away impressed. Torque's overall philosophy driving the company as well as steering what it makes and sells, according to Borchert, is three-fold:
1. Help specialty increase its share of the strength business.
2. Increase the average sales ticket for specialty dealers.
3. Increase gross margins for specialty fitness dealers.
Borchert said he believes the company will be able to do just that by ensuring the line offers high-end features, including a lifetime warranty on frames, welds and parts and 10 years on cables and upholstery. This ain't no line of entry-level gyms looking to beat others' prices, but a upscale line of classy-looking gyms mostly combining both traditional and functional features, in some cases in a compact and foldaway unit.
We took a look at both the TQ9 Gym System ($3,800 list) and the F5 FAST ("Fold Away Strength Trainer" -- $3,200). Also in the hotel showroom were the TQ5 ($2,800) and the F3. Coming later will be the TQ3.
With the TQ9, Borchert pointed out that the primary goal was to make a home gym that felt like working out with free weights without the challenges associated with free weights in a hybrid package of functional and traditional features.
"We do this by relying on a system of free-moving cables and swiveling pulleys that allows the user to specifically designate an exercise and define the exact path of motion," said Borchert.
>> The TQ9 is a simple, space-saving corner design that offers features such as a traditional fixed arc press arm with fingertip controls that enable quick position adjustments from the seated position, as well as high, mid and low pulleys for functional moves. The seat is concave and is designed to help maintain the position of the body throughout the workout, Borchert told SNEWS®. All adjustment points are in burnt orange for easy visual identification.
Its "FAST-Attach" system allows for quick cable handle changes without the need for carabiners. A 200-pound weight stack incorporates sound-dampening bushings to ensure a workout session does not involve clanking plates -- a bonus when home use means someone else might be disturbed. Tapered roller pads help position a user's legs better and more comfortably, and a patent-pending dual-pivot leg extension and seated leg curl is intended to minimize shear force on the knee. The "Torque Fork" (nice ring to that name, we must add) is a weight-selector with magnetic adherence.
>> With the company's opening hand jumping into the folding trend that we mentioned in our article on strength-training products from the show (click here to read), Torque introduced its F5 Fold Away Strength Trainer. When closed, the visual presentation is designed to be able to blend into any room and occupy no more than a 3.7-foot-by-3.7-foot footprint. The FAST system incorporates many of the same high-end touches found in the TQ9. Borchert pointed out the FAST system was, he believed, an "ideal convergence of folding with cable and pulley technologies." It has a dual gas-assist to help raise and lower the bench and a built-in cable column with adjustable swivel pulleys, as well as the Torque standard "FAST-Attach" and "Torque Fork."
We expect the website, www.torquefitness.com, will soon have more than the current holding page.
SNEWS® View: Like Octane and others before and after it, which debuted in the Holiday Inn back in 2004, we would expect to see Torque on the show floor in its second year with a booth full of retailers eager to bring in a line that so strongly supports the specialty business. Though by no means the innovator of what is termed hybrid strength, Torque is clearly seeking to establish its niche by perfecting the concept. The company is also making a play to be a mainstream player in compact, foldaway systems that fold into corners and behind doors. Over the years, we've seen a few and they are either very expensive and more for personal training studios or too cheaply made with a wobble factor that doesn't instill confidence. From what we saw, Torque is well on its way to busting out in its first full year next year with a product line that looks and feels solid and should command the higher price and stronger margins Borchert and team say are essential to the survival of the specialty business.