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Revolutionize the Fitness Industry


CS Interview with Tom Campanaro, the President and CEO of Total Gym

I’ve always been driven by fitness and after a motorcycle accident ended my high school sports activities, I started body building. In the 70s, I competed in regional and national body building competitions. I’m also a self-taught student of exercise equipment and methods. I used to create weight-training equipment out of things I found in my garage. I learned from my trainer, who was influenced by the natural look of classic Roman sculpture, to appreciate quality, not quantity when it came to exercise. His training philosophy was what drove me to develop the Total Gym.

In 1974, I went to work for an exercise equipment company that produced a low-end version of a gravity training device that used bodyweight as resistance. I felt compelled to improve the machine and really, that was the beginning of Total Gym. I founded Total Gym Inc., with my business partners Dale McMurray and Doug Marino in 1974. Our fourth partner, Larry Westfall, joined the team within the year. We created the first Total Gym, a bodyweight training machine that encouraged the use of multiple muscle groups together in each exercise. We now call that functional training. Total Gym was the industry’s first functional training machine. It’s now used all over the world for physical therapy, athletic training and sports conditioning … from hospital clinics to professional sports teams. NFL and U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning athletes use Total Gym, and our equipment is supported by university and medical community peer-reviewed research.

In the 1990s, we started to recognize the potential reach of direct-response electronic-media (infomercials) that allowed for comprehensive equipment demonstrations. We licensed the Total Gym incline trainer product line to American Telecast Products, LLC, which signed Chuck Norris, a long-time Total Gym user, as the spokesperson. Fifteen years later, the Total Gym infomercial is one of the industry’s longest-running and most successful infomercials in history, broadcast in 80 countries with over four million units sold worldwide. In fact, American Telecast was just featured on the cover of “Response Magazine,” the publication that covers DR advertising.

We provide clubs with multifunctional training equipment that can help them grow top-line profits with one-to-one or even four-to-one personal training solutions and offer versatile revenue generating group programs from resistance training to Pilates. We are proven. For 35 years, our equipment has been trusted by fitness and rehabilitation professionals. Our GRAVITY program offers time-efficient, multi-client training options that no other company or program can offer with a brand recognized by millions. In the rehabilitation arena, GRAVITY provides therapists and wellness professionals with a way to transition patients after insurance reimbursements expire, into a fitness program on equipment they are familiar with from therapy. We offer clubs the best of all worlds — functional bodyweight training equipment and versatile programming with all the support needed to run a successful revenue-generating program with consumer brand recognition, A win-win.

We are one of the few fitness companies left that is still owned and operated by its original and passionate entrepreneur! And we are one of the only brands with cross-market recognition — from consumer to rehab and commercial fitness.

We are not just an infomercial product. Our products have been used in the rehab market for nearly four decades. Our company culture is one of integrity and innovation in both product and education. There are over 4 million consumer customers that will recognize the commercial Total Gym models in health clubs, and another 12 million that rehab successfully on the product each year.

GRAVITY is offered in 14,000 commercial fitness and rehabilitation facilities and we have more than 7,000 GRAVITY instructors worldwide. We have distributors in over 20 countries that are proactively promoting and selling GRAVITY to health clubs and wellness facilities – expanding the reach of our equipment and programming.

Our plans are to continue to expand our Total Gym brand across all markets, to offer GRAVITY educational support and to introduce new, innovative Total Gym functional training products.

We want to relay a consistent message of functional bodyweight training that is safe and appropriate for all levels of the fitness continuum, from rehab to high-performance training. We specialize in providing tools that enhance the professional’s capability, whether for fitness or therapy, to develop training programs that meet individual client needs. Plus, we want to provide quality instructional information so our customers receive the greatest benefit from our products and support materials.

We were doing functional bodyweight training before anyone even thought about it. I remember showing the product in the 70s and even the 80s and people would ask, “Where’s the weight?” Since 1974, we have been making bodyweight trainers that can start as low as 1 percent bodyweight for rehab and take you to wherever you want to go for performance training — in any plane of motion with over 200 exercises. We are going to continue to lead the market in functional training for all levels. We will grow our product line, always bringing first-rate exercise equipment as well as top-notch education to all of the markets that we serve.

If I could be doing anything in the world I would be helping young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, and spending a lot more time in my vineyard. -CS

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