|dc.description.abstract||My association with the fitness equipment industry started in 1983
when I first began working at Viking Leisure Products, a small specialty
store that carries top of the line home fitness equipment. My
responsibilities consisted solely of cleaning the equipment every Saturday
morning. Throughout my high school days and into college I have continued
to work at Viking off and on. And during these nine years I have witnessed
the extraordinary growth that the industry has experienced (see appendix
#1) and many of the changes associated with the growth.
I have seen companies like Marcy and Battle Creek begin, achieve rapid
success, get too big to remain effective manufacturers and eventually fall
by the wayside while new, innovative companies like Hoist and Bodyguard
take over their market share.
I have also witnessed a dramatic increase. in the knowledge that the
customers have about the equipment they are purchasing. Jon Cooper,
founder of Fitness Source, a specialty store in Philadelphia, described
today's knowledgeable customer extremely well when he said,
"You'd be surprised at how informed the consumer is
these days. Not only the doctors and the therapists, but
the average customer wants advice, and they don't want
it to be bull-they want you to know what you're talking
about." (6, p,22)
I have talked with many of Viking's customers about various fitness
clubs in the area. I have heard some brag about how great their club is
while others lamented over how much money they had wasted by joining a
I have seen some unlikely corporations enter into the industry. For
example, Campbell Soup Co. bought Triangle Manufacturing in May of 1983
in an attempt to market an entire wellness portfolio. When questioned
about the maneuver, Jim Post, director of Campbell's health and fitness
systems as well as president of Triangle, compared Campbell's market
position to someone standing at the base of a pyramid. "The market for
home fitness equipment is virtually unlimited, " he said. (5, p.22) Dart
and Kraft Incorporated also jumped into the action when they bought
Precor, a manufacturer known mainly for its treadmills, and Total Medical
Systems, a manufacturer of a unique resistance machine that uses solely
the users weight as resistance, in 1984. (8,p.54)
Finally, throughout the nine years I have become more and more
convinced that the fitness equipment industry will continue to grow in the
future. Despite claims to the contrary, I feel that there are three main
reasons why the exercise equipment industry will continue to expand.
They are, in no specific order:
1. The ever increasing importance that American society
places on living a healthier life.
2. The increasing amount of knowledge that today's
consumer has about the equipment they are investing in.
3. The shift in consumer's purchasing preferences.
consumers are buying less low price, low quality
equipment and instead, investing in higher priced, higher
quality equipment. This, in turn, means that consumers
are not going to replace their equipment as often and so
manufacturers are going to be forced to continuously
research and develop new products in order to stay alive.
As long as the trends continue, and there is no end in sight, the
fitness equipment industry will continue to flourish. Todd Jenner,
president of Muscle-Tech says, "Over the next 10 years, it is believed that
along with environmental issues, the most significant trends in America
will be strong growth in the fitness, health and nutrition markets."