Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



SNEWS Qs, John Lewis, creator of Outdoor-Fit's Helios and Hercules Outdoor Gyms

SNEWS chats with John Lewis, creator of outdoor fitness gyms like the Helios and Hercules.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

John Lewis

Creator, Outdoor-Fit Helios and Hercules

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

What inspired you to create the Outdoor Fit Helios system?

Approximately 10 years ago while taking my kids to the local playground it occurred to me that it would be nice to have the ability to get an “indoor fitness center type of workout” while outdoors, especially while the kids were playing on the play structure. Parents and teenagers who were supervising the kids often just sat around doing nothing while watching over the kids. I thought, wouldn’t it be great if these parents and teenagers had a multi-gym placed 30-40 feet away from where the kids are playing so they then could get a full body workout while watching over them. Unfortunately, the kids play structure really didn’t have any capability of providing a fitness centre quality workout. Sure, sometimes you could find a straight bar on it to do chin-ups or a step to do calf raises but this was about it. I’ve been in the fitness equipment business for over 20 years so I decided to build an outdoor fitness multi-gym. I then started to build prototypes and now we have the most durable, safe and effective strength and cardio outdoor multi-gym on the market today.

What makes your product different?

Our Helios outdoor fitness multi-gym has four stations on it that can be used by four people at any given time. It has a chin/dip assist station, a cardio-thigh squat station, an elevated push up platform, a calf raise platform, an abdominal board and a 45-degree back extension bench on it. Each of these stations incorporate the proper bio-mechanics as found in top quality indoor commercial fitness equipment.

Because fitness equipment for outdoors is often placed in an unsupervised environment we knew that it had to be first and foremost, safe to use. To accomplish this our Helios has a minimal number of moving parts and no pinch points and entrapment area’s. We also knew that the Helios had to be rugged and durable if it was to withstand the abuse associated with un-supervised environments and extreme outdoor weather conditions. To this end it is fabricated with 1/4″ steel plate that is painted with outdoor grade “super durable” polyester powder coatings as used by the playground equipment industry. Also, all of the hardware that attaches the peripheral stations to the main frame is tamper proof stainless steel fasteners.

How has business selling that product grown since you introduced it?

To date the Helios has been a huge success with sales throughout North America, Europe and Australia. The U.S. Military has been our biggest customer and the City of Milwaukee has bought 15 Helios units that they’ve installed adjacent to 15 new play structures. This is just what I envisioned 10 years ago when I started designing the Helios. We have just re-designed the Helios to improve it’s functions and aesthetics and just received a large order from the U.S. military as a result. We are also coming out with a second model in January that will be a revolutionary “game changer” in the world of outdoor fitness equipment. At this point the majority of our sales have been to the military and municipal recreation market but we’ve also sold the Helios to correctional center’s for their outdoor exercise yards and to campgrounds.

What are some plans for future growth?

Within the next month and a half our new re-designed Helios and the brand new Hercules six sided multi-gym will be featured on our new website which is currently under construction. Going forward we will actively start looking for dealers who aggressively target the following market segments- military, municipal recreation, corrections, campgrounds, schools, universities and resorts. The Helios and Hercules multi-gyms are manufactured by Outdoor-Fit Exercise Systems Limited.

–Compiled by Ana Trujillo