What started as one man’s pursuit to improve his own physical condition, eventually turned into a global fitness revolution. That man was Keene P. Dimick, the mastermind behind the legendary Lifecycle exercise bike. Little did he know in 1968 that his modest invention would go on to fuel the hopes and dreams of people around the world forever.
The story of Life Fitness began when two young entrepreneurs, Ray Wilson and Augie Nieto, saw the promise of Dr. Dimick’s invention. Even though it was slightly ahead of its time, they believed the Lifecycle exercise bike could help generations of athletes, trainers, exercisers, and people everywhere live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives.
Wilson and Nieto bought the rights to the Lifecycle bike from Dr. Dimick, perfected it, and sold it out of a motor home to health clubs across America. Despite the overwhelming odds and initial unpopularity of the Lifecycle exercise bike, the two passion-filled pioneers turned a two-man operation and a seemingly impossible vision into a prosperous reality. Along the way, they shaped the future of Life Fitness as well as the fitness industry, bringing cardiovascular training into the mainstream and helping ignite the health club boom.
Today, Life Fitness employs more than 1,700 people at 12 international subsidiaries and manufacturing facilities, with 186 dealers and distributors in more than 120 countries. They have come a long way since the Lifecycle bike, and now offer more than 300 different cardio and strength-training products. The history of Life Fitness is painted with several ground-breaking product innovations and industry “firsts”. The timeline below will help you follow their storied past and learn about the role they have played in the evolution of the fitness industry.
The 1960s – The Revolution Begins
* Single-owner clubs begin to expand into health club chains.
* Free weights, popular with professional body builders and athletes, begin to attract the attention of consumers.
* Keene Dimick, Ph.D., a chemist and inventor, develops the Lifecycle exercise bike, the first computerised fitness equipment.
* Dr. Kenneth Cooper coins the term “aerobics” and conducts extensive research on aerobics and physical conditioning.
* Many health clubs provide amenities including steam rooms, lounge areas, swimming pools, free weights, and a variety of makeshift free weight equipment.
The 1970s – Gaining Momentum
* Health club chains increase in popularity due to membership fee structures.
* Dr. Dimick sells the rights to the Lifecycle exercise bike for $50,000 to Ray Wilson, who establishes Lifecycle, Inc. with Augie Nieto.
* The medal-winning performances of Mark Spitz and Peggy Fleming inspire thousands of Americans to get in shape.
* Lifecycle 2000 exercise bike is introduced for commercial use.
* The concept of interval training is launched, as the cycling and running craze start to hit the mainstream.
The 1980s – Let’s Get Physical
* Olivia Newton-John brings health club workouts into the mainstream with her “Let’s Get Physical” video in 1982.
* Lifecycle, Inc. is purchased by Bally Manufacturing, and eventually renamed Life Fitness, Inc.
* Workout clothes become a fashion category, featuring lycra and bright colours.
* The Life Fitness Rower and Life Fitness Stairclimbers hit the market.
* 13.8 million people in America are health club members in 1987.
* Life Fitness Circuit electronic resistance debuts, redefining traditional strength training programs.
* The exercise industry explodes with new activities such as step aerobics, stair-climbing machines, elliptical cross-trainers, cross-country ski machines, aerobic riders and aquatic exercise
The 1990s – The Fitness Explosion
* Life Fitness treadmills with patented FlexDeck® technology are introduced.
* Life Fitness Total-Body Cross-Trainers burst onto the scene and quickly become a #1 best-seller in commercial facilities.
* Lifepulse® heart rate monitoring system and Lifecenter™ Networking System are introduced to help provide more accurate and effective cardio training.
* Health clubs flourish – U.S. membership shows an increase of 63 percent in 10 years, to a total of 22.5 million in 1997. Fitness facilities are integrated into hotels, colleges, corporations, apartment complexes, hospitals, firehouses and police stations.
* Life Fitness acquires High Tech to be able to offer selectorised strength-training equipment to health clubs.
* Life Fitness Academy is created to support and advance research and education in exercise science and fitness.
* Exercise bikes take on new role with studio cycling, or Spinning™ classes popping up all over the country.
* Brunswick Corporation acquires Life Fitness.
* Life Fitness acquires Hammer Strength® and ParaBody, adding several new lines of commercial and home strength equipment to an already impressive and extensive product portfolio.
In 2000 and beyond – A promising future
* Marion Jones, Brian Urlacher, Jason Giambi and other high-profile athletes sign on to become Official Hammer Strength and Life Fitness athletes.
* The 500,000th Lifecycle exercise bike is sold.
* Life Fitness Cable Motion Series products redefine strength-training and introduce a new form of functional training to health clubs around the world.
* Life Fitness integrated LCD console and attachable LCD entertainment system are introduced, which revolutionized interactive workouts and personal entertainment solutions in fitness facilities.
* The low-carb diets take America by storm and help foster a more health-conscience culture.
* The number of health club members in America rises to over 36 million in 2002.
* Life Fitness shakes up the fitness industry with a completely redesigned line-up of cardio equipment, plus new lines of strength equipment including the sophisticated Signature Series Strength.
* Life Fitness opens facility in Hungary to manufacture products closer to its international customers
Life Fitness Cardio and Strength Equipment