Move Over Ellipticals

by | Oct 4, 2016

Nautilus Inc. rallied its newest and brightest equipment from brands Bowflex, Octane Fitness, Nautilus and Modern Movement into a curated space in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan last week, previewing for active and potential investors what the future of exercise will look like.

The machinery is greener (fewer motors, more human powered), more entertaining (smart consoles and app programming), moves in new planes of motion and offers home or club owners a better sense of the value of a $1,000-$3,000 purchase. But apart from the screws and touch screens, at the heart of the debut was the notion that users don’t have to beat their bodies into submission to yield results and, ultimately, that exercise is for everyone.

Case in point: Nautilus Inc. CEO Bruce Cazenave is no spring chicken, but the vibrant industry veteran had zero hesitation when jumping onto the Octane Fitness lateral elliptical, LateralX, and showing SGB how the horizontal plane of motion can target your hips — a hotbed of injury for runners and athletes.

Elsewhere, a suited-and-tied investor was awkwardly kicking his heels up in the Octane Zero Runner. Led by Tina Nibbe, senior marketing manager at Octane, and Tim Porth, Octane’s executive vice president of marketing and product development, the investor got into the swing of this no-motor machine and was grinning ear-to-ear.

First launched commercially in March of 2016, the Zero Runner continues to be Octane’s golden goose, creating for it an entirely new category of equipment and an opportunity to reach modest and medaled runners alike.

Octane Fitness Zero Runner ZR8

Investors test the Octane Zero Runner with Tina Nibbe, senior marketing manager at Octane Fitness

Bruce Cazenave, CEO of Nautilus Inc., jumps on the Octane lateral elliptical, LateralX, to show SGB how it’s done.

For the first time, the Zero Runner will begin taking up tenancy in select clubs and gyms (most likely Equinox and Life Time Fitness) — a move Octane had been hesitant about. Until now, educating a consumer on how to use a Zero Runner has been done by the specialty owner. Moving into clubs means bringing no-impact Zero Runner experts in tow for demos and sessions with club staff and trainers.

Larry Schmidt, a running and endurance coach for Octane and former Army officer, was enlisted as a Zero Runner guru. Schmidt and seasoned running coach Rick Muhr will travel to gyms that install the equipment.

Pretty soon we’ll look out across the club floor and see more than treadmills and ellipticals, and that is a cool thing. Octane equipment like the LateralX will also allow club owners and managers to track its use, meaning maintenance can be done before the machine breaks down and is blocked off with caution tape, and can indicate if more of this machine needs to be present on the floor.

The traditional club layout seems to have a problem similar to one we see in nutrition: shelf space isn’t getting any wider. Products are just being swapped out. Introducing new machines that don’t fit the mold of a treadmill or elliptical could make the problem worse. However, Porth doesn’t see it that way.

“We don’t battle like the traditional guys. A lot of equipment is really complementary, especially now that cross training is the norm,” he told SGB. “I love seeing good stuff from competitors; it’s good for the market.”

One of the reasons Nautilus purchased Octane earlier this year was to regain an avenue into the club markets after jettisoning the commercial side of the Nautilus brand years ago. Octane provides high-end retail product as well. The other brands under the Nautilus Inc. umbrella will continue to be sold direct-to-consumer for in-home use.


Since the acquisition of Octane, Nautilus has reported stellar earnings. Its second-quarter 2016 numbers surged 32 percent to $78.5 million, with its retail business growth (up 89 percent) outshining its direct-to-consumer gains (up 8 percent) for the period.

It’s safe to assume Nautilus Inc.’s success is a direct correlation to its diversification of traditional equipment offerings, its skill in making pieces that serve the beginner and expert alike and a CEO who is the first to say, “I’ll show you how it works.”

Photos courtesy Nautilus Inc and Jahla Seppanen