Warm and fuzzy isn't exactly how most people would describe a home gym. But Vectra Fitness wanted to make a statement that was different.
And different it is. Starting a few years ago, the strength-equipment manufacturer began commissioning impressionistic-style fine oil paintings of workout scenes that included its gyms. The style is less graphic than artsy and is not normally what comes out of the minds and off the drawing boards of equipment manufacturers for in-store promotion. In fact, think Cezanne, Renoir, Monet and Van Gogh, and you'll get a better idea of the style that Northwest artist Jim Gerlitz uses.
"We were trying to achieve something that wasn't techy," said Vectra President Buell Ish. "We were looking for something that was classy, colorful, friendly, fun, contemporary…."
Since both artist Gerlitz and Vectra are based in the Seattle, Wash., area, Ish knew his paintings from seeing them at the likes of Starbucks, in Sonics promotions and at local restaurants and businesses. The warmth of the colors and style in fact were chosen specifically because of the perceived harshness of the products' steel and iron.
"The paintings were conceived to balance out the starkness of the product," Ish said.
Gerlitz (www.gerlitzcreative.com, but get ready for a wacky sense of humor) said his bold strokes could be called appropriate because their strength illustrates the strength of the machines.
"It was basically a matter of doing something to make (Vectra) stand out from the crowd," Gerlitz said. "Most (companies) use either type or symbols or photographs, which are nice, but sometimes you have to differentiate yourself."
The paintings (click here to see them on the Vectra website) hang in stores around the country, either purchased at keystone margins or acquired at no cost using co-op dollars, Ish said. MSRPs of the 30-x-40-inch oil reproduction paintings printed on canvas and stapled to a wood frame are $369, while the paintings reproduced on a sheer fabric to hang from ceilings costs $289.
"They help enhance the overall look of our stores," said Ray Chodorowski, LA Gym's district manager. "Especially with the clientele that we deal with in Southern California, we must have an extremely classy look."
He said a couple of the stores have two of the paintings, but the chain recently decided to bring in more of the oil paintings.
"It's a nice, classy touch," said Mike Mays, Kansas City and Oklahoma manager for All About Fitness. "Vectra has a nice, first-class product, and these are a nice, first-class touch."
They are also available for customer purchase. Chodorowski said a few customers have expressed interest, but he has directed them to Vectra's website and does not know if any have been bought. The paintings have only been on the website since Nov. 13, however.
Scott Egbert has them in all of his Chicago Home Fitness stores: "The quality of the work is the best that any supplier has ever put out. The pieces help warm up the stores as well as give their product a very positive high end feel."
Added Mays, "I'd like to have them in my own home exercise room!"
SNEWS® View: Perhaps not the "next new thing" or some grand innovative concept for an elliptical or gym, the paintings nevertheless bring a softer edge to fitness and in an upscale area would be a great add-on sale to customers looking to dress up a workout area. We can't figure out why more dealers haven't sold these to their customers. Added SNEWS®, "We want one in our home exercise room!"