Adding "spirit" to its equipment line, Spirit Fitness will license the Xterra brand for a full line of fitness equipment to debut at retail in the fall.
Considering the brand awareness and success of Ironman-licensed equipment, from treadmills to body fat monitors, the Xterra name (www.xterragear.com) could also lend vitality and cache to fitness equipment, as it does already for clothes, watches and even baby jogging strollers. Xterra (www.xterraplanet.com) began a decade ago as an off-road triathlon and has expanded to include runs, duathlons and other events.
Spirit Fitness began to explore the license late last year after Todd Udowitch, a former Keys Fitness vice president who worked with Ironman when Keys had that license, came on board. Equipment, including bikes, ellipticals, indoor cycles and treadmills, will leverage the name to sell to those interested in an active lifestyle, perhaps those with an outdoor interest and who may train for events like Xterra. Udowitch is now vice president of sales at Spirit.
"We're committed to co-branding this line," said company spokesman Don Puerling. "It'll have an identity all its own in look and features."
Although details such as exact features and prices are still being fine-tuned, Puerling said it will be mid-range in price and available for retailers to look at this summer.
"We want to partner with the right retailers," he said, particularly those who will get behind the brand to promote and explain it.
This is only one signal that Spirit Fitness, after experiencing some lag in product development, branding, consistency and marketing, is looking to step back fully into the game under the guidance of its owner Dyaco of Taiwan.
"We're growing into the future," said Puerling, at the IHRSA show. "We're taking the latest in product innovations and integrating it into our product to recapture the fitness market for future success."
At the IHRSA show, Spirit was showcasing a partnership debut with e-Ryde, a cross between an indoor cycle and an elliptical (www.e-ryde.com). The e-Ryde by InCore puts users in a standing position with foot platforms to stand on and "pedal," like an elliptical, but the piece is powered with a heavy flywheel like an indoor bike. A compact piece of equipment, the ride is smooth and solid, engineered not only for home and individual use but also for group exercise classes.
"Spirit is going to be here tomorrow," Puerling said. "We're going to do so much more in the future."
SNEWS® View: Although unfortunately not in the main hall at IHRSA, Spirit managed a nice showcase for the e-Ryde. We think the e-Ryde piece has a future in home use like indoor cycles do since it has a small footprint and a smooth, simple ride. Plus, the advantage is that, unlike cycling, it feels like walking, which is something more people are familiar and comfortable with. And it doesn't force exercisers to sit down on a bicycle seat, which isn't always comfortable for some. But it's not the only elliptical-cycle out there now, with Keiser also showing a group exercise concept with a similar piece. So it's off to the races now with this "new" thing. No, not likely The Next New Thing that everybody is waiting for, but certainly a category that has a future in the equipment business.