Foundation Fitness debuts first product at IHRSA: Stages Indoor Cycling with FreeMotion

And you thought Foundation Fitness was just about distribution. Established about a year ago by ex-Nautilus commercial exec Jim Liggett, the company will debut its first product at the IHRSA show – Stages Indoor Cycling product in partnership with FreeMotion and programming to go with it.
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When a pack of former Nautilus executives and product developers began reassembling a year ago as Foundation Fitness, it seemed obvious that distribution, sales and service weren’t going to be the only things on their minds.

Jim Liggett, founder and CEO of the Portland, Ore.-based company, had been the vice president and general manager of the Nautilus commercial division, one of several commercial business segments Nautilus sold or licensed in the last year as a part of its return to consumer and retail sales.

Next came the quiet dismantling of the Boulder, Colo.-based research and product development division of Nautilus, with engineer Doug Crawford’s name reappearing soon on the Foundation Fitness website (www.foundationfitness.net). MIA, however, were Crawford’s development teammates, including Patrick Warner, Andy Loll and Eric Golesch. Turns out they were flying a bit under the radar. Warner left Nautilus in June 2010 and started officially at Foundation as senior vice president of product development in November 2010. The entire product development team is still in Boulder, still working together and still taking noon cycling breaks, which we hear can turn into “testosterone rides.”

Only natural, given the interest in cycling of the group, that indoor cycling bikes and an educational program were the first on the docket for Foundation Fitness, which Warner told SNEWS® really has two arms: one for sales and distribution based in Portland, and one for product development in Boulder.

“Foundation was going to develop products from the start,” Warner said.

Stages Indoor Cycling (see photo, right) will debut March 17 at the IHRSA show in San Francisco in an exclusive partnership with FreeMotion Fitness (www.freemotionfitness.com). Foundation Fitness, as equipment manufacturer, will also coordinate the educational program development and instructor training.

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“Nobody has progressed indoor cycling training in the commercial market,” Warner said. “Nobody has a system (of measuring power) that’s accurate enough to coach to.”

That is one of the key differences in the equipment, he said: an ability to truly and accurately measure power. And once you measure power, you can provide relevant speed, distance and calories.

“Everybody wants to know how far and how fast they go,” he said, “and it’s calculated on power. And they want to know how many calories they use. And that’s estimated on power.

“What have you been able to show participants before?” he asked. “Nothing…. This could change the way people think about indoor cycling.”

The educational program, which has been about a year in planning, will launch with Cameron Chinatti as lead instructor. Along with the program, FreeMotion will debut three new indoor cycles.

"We really are excited about our opportunity to partner with a company like FreeMotion that believes in education and innovation," he said.

Those receiving IHRSA’s pre-show promotion emails perhaps already had an inkling something new was coming from FreeMotion. An email on Feb. 21 said simply, “Revolutionize your training with power,” and showed a photo (see left) of something draped in a white sheet – which looked suspiciously like a bike.

Warner, always obsessive about bike fit as a road cyclist, has been able with his team to take this piece closer to his ideal.

“It is still a bike,” he said, “but the way it fits is critical.”

There are no pop pins to adjust bars and seats in the fore/aft adjustment, and you can adjust the bike even after you are on it, he said. And although there is a fore/aft seat adjustment, he said people don’t really need it, and he said he suspects most will just leave it in the neutral position. In addition, the handlebars, which weigh only 7 pounds, can actually slide away from the rider for full adjustment and access, noting that most others bars weigh three or more times that. The flywheel, a rather slim-looking piece, may surprise some who are used to manufacturers touting a flywheel’s weight.

“It doesn’t matter,” Warner said. “It’s the inertia you care about.”

In sum, he said, the bike has a simple fit, is easier to maintain (the flywheel can come off without dismantling the brakes, for example), and it measures power.

“We’re taking it to the next level,” Warner said.

And if the team can find a way to do other equipment differently, you never know what could be next.

--Therese Iknoian

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