The year was 2007. The place was San Francisco, CA. The Event was the IHRSA Trade Show at the Moscone Center. At this event there were 2 trade show halls. One for the established industry players and one for everyone else. We had a small 10x10 booth in the hall for everyone else. Not only was this my very first trade show as an entrepreneur, but it was my very first trade show ever! I literally had no idea what to expect.

Seven years earlier I left my career as a Fitness Director at a Health Club Chain in NJ called Xercise. I had co-founded a company called BodyTime Wellness with my then business partner, Don Brown. Don is the inventor of the world famous Ab Roller®, an iconic fitness device that sold over 10 million units. He was also the owner of the health club chain so I had a front row seat to it all. Don taught me the power of INNOVATION!

We started BodyTime Wellness after we failed miserably at selling a very unique massage tool called Nukkles® via TV Infomercial. It was a simple innovation based around the concept that massage was always done with two hands, but all the massage tools on the market were singular. Nukkles was made of flexible plastic and was sold as a PAIR! Why would a couple of fitness guys decide to sell massage tools? We thought we’d get a quick hit and use the money to fund another fitness idea we were working on. WRONG. We ended up with a $500k LOSS and Don wanted his money back.

We looked at the product and realized something very simple. It FELT incredible but you could not convey that on TV. You had to do it in person. We had to INNOVATE on how the product was sold. To make a long story short we began setting up mall kiosks and selling the product via demonstration. That shift in approach led to this little product selling over 3 million units!!

Back to Fitness

I loved what we were doing at BodyTime but I wanted to get back to fitness. It was my first love because I knew that fitness could change people’s lives. Don’s success as an inventor had people constantly coming at us with ideas. In 2005 an inventor named Rob Nelson came to us with the concept for a BOTTOM UP Ab Machine. At this time every ab machine was some variation of a crunch - Top Down. Rob’s innovation made a lot of sense. There are 2 ways to innovate - improve on the existing or do what’s never been done. Rob’s idea was the latter.

Don showed it to me and I thought it was cool. However, I was not that excited because the original patented design was for a straight track. It was not the way the body naturally moved because you were not getting the key movement for ab work - flexion of the spine. I told Don what I thought and went back to selling Nukkles!

About a year later he called me up. He said “Hey I figured that thing out”. I asked what thing? He said The Ab thing. I said what Ab thing. He said, remember the straight track bottom up machine? I said yeah. He said - “You Have to Curve the Track!” I said Holy Sh&t! - You’re right!

That simple conversation changed my life. Immediately we wen’t back to the inventor, licensed the product and Ab Coaster LLC was formed by Don, myself and our third partner Dave Augustine.

After further development, the 3 of us took 2 simple prototypes to the IHRSA Show in 07 and just like that I was back in fitness! Over the next 3 days our little 10x10 booth was packed! People immediately understood our innovation and told us so with the one thing that mattered - SALES!

Sales Innovation

Because of the reaction at the show, we decided to simultaneously develop a home version of the product and launch it on TV Infomercial while we were selling to the commercial market. Typically at that time companies were doing one or the other. We decided to do both because we felt that the commercial market would legitimize the product for the home user and that the interest from the home user would incentivize clubs to purchase as well. We were right and the Ab Coaster® went on to do over $100 Million in sales!

This taught me a very valuable lesson that I’ve carried for the past 15 years. People are people. Too often we try to put people in a fitness box. They are a home exerciser. They are a club member. At the end of the day the fitness consumer wants the same thing regardless of where they train. They want simple, effective exercises that they enjoy and that they will stick with to get them RESULTS!

Over the past 2 years we heard so much about how the Fitness Industry was finished. Digital fitness was here and the rest are doomed. I consistently blew the whistle on this because we’ve served both consumers my entire career. Home and commercial fitness are not antagonistic. They form a beautiful synergy with the same simple goal - helping people get fit! The more people embrace a fitness lifestyle, the more they will seek ways to maintain it. That benefits BOTH commercial and consumer fitness! Our job is to get them hooked.

15 Years of Innovation

It’s been 15 years since our very first IHRSA and it’s been one heck of a ride. Over the past decade and a half we have gone on to earn and acquire 35 worldwide patents and trademarks. Our products can be found in 25,000 fitness facilities in 55 countries globally. Some of our products bring the fun - The Ab Solo®. Others solve the problem of space and safety - the TireFlip180® and the SledMill®. Our patented 6 Minute Ab System provides a structure that’s easy for any facility to implement for their members. On and on. Our products provide effective and progressive fitness solutions for the true beginner to the elite athlete. Homes, Health Clubs, Hospitality, Military, Universities, and Professional Sports teams all use our products.

If you asked me to describe The Abs Company in one word, it would be simple. INNOVATION. It’s so powerful because we all must constantly be striving to move forward. If you never innovate you will slowly start to fall back and eventually fade away. The Abs Company is committed to never let this happen by helping our customers and our industry stand apart.

Together, We Change Lives from the Core®.

Here’s to the next 15 years!