Torque Fitness celebrates ‘The Big 5’ with new products, direction

Torque Fitness, long known for high-end home gyms, has analyzed its direction. Look for a lot more from Torque in 2011. SNEWS talks to its CEO to find out more.

Torque Fitness’s first five years in business were a roller coaster.

The boutique strength equipment company came into the industry when the economy was on a high that seemed endless (Click here to see a May 2006 SNEWS® story). But end it did, leaving some of the smaller and newer manufacturers scrambling or even disappearing.

Although Torque never went away, CEO and founder Jerry Dettinger told SNEWS® it definitely felt the impact.

“Everybody has been affected by the loss of easy money,” he said. “We like everybody have seen a lot of change happen, and there have been outside forces that have affected strength more than the broader industry.”

He pointed to the infomercial trends of P90X and other body-weight training systems, as well as the current ability to join small club chains for very low monthly fees.

So Torque ( stepped back, took a look at its game plan and tweaked it a bit. The company will celebrate its fifth year with a huge lineup of products in 2011 with a slightly new direction, both at the lower end and with an entry into commercial selectorized stations and accompanying free-weight equipment.

Lower-priced home gym

Sidling up to its high-end line is the F1 at the lower end. The company showed a prototype at the Health & Fitness Business show in September 2010, which caught SNEWS’ eye because it was so lean and mean – and very much unlike its other gyms. (Click here to see an Oct. 8, 2010, SNEWS story, “Health & Fitness Business ’10: Strength highlights here and there, too” that includes it.)

“We think one of the ways to grow business is to solve problems,” Dettinger said.

For Torque the problem it heard from retailers was the need for a solid, aesthetically pleasing, high-quality, simple-to-us, do-it-all home gym with a small footprint – for about $1,000. That way they had a chance of selling a gym along with a cardio piece since the norm, Dettinger said, is the strength equipment to be an add-on for a cardio purchase.

The F1 is a one-stack, full-body, functional trainer with dual swivel pulleys (152 inches of travel) that tops out at 6-foot-5.

He said that the $1,000 gyms that did exist often didn’t really fit in next to a high-end treadmill or elliptical.

The F1 will ship at the end of the first quarter 2011.

Commercially M Powered

In addition to taking the high-end company into an entry-level priced piece, Dettinger said Torque will have a booth at IHRSA for the first time and will have its first line of commercial equipment – 12 selectorized stations plus a whole line of free-weight benches and accessories for a total of 60 pieces.

“It’s huge,” he said. “We feel as a company our greatest strength is engineering.”

The commercial line, called MPower, will be “affordable” and “beautiful,” he said. They will all have a low-profile structure with each tower topping out at 5 feet. All will also have independent, converging arms. Prices will compete with major brands and the equipment is designed not only for smaller vertical market facilities but also for high-use clubs.

The commercial product that it has received is sold but Dettinger said the company should have more by March 2011.

“We expect to give dealers a line they’ll be able to sell and make some money,” he added.

Maintaining brand

Suddenly Torque is no longer just a high-end home gym company but a whole lot more. But Dettinger isn’t worried about brand confusion or dilution as it retools its image.

“As long as we execute on the things that matter – does it look and feel like its high end? – then we’re in good shape,” he said. “We don’t think any of this will dilute our brand.”

–Therese Iknoian