MEDWAY, MA — Some commercial fitness equipment manufacturers could get a bump in business now that Cybex International, Medway, MA, has officially notified its customers that it has increased pricing on some of its products.

Last month, Cybex sent a letter to its customers, dealers, distributors and shareholders noting the increase but not offering specifics on which product prices would increase. Cybex declined to give further details when contacted for this story. However, in the company's third quarter financial call, John Aglialoro, Cybex CEO, said that the Arc Trainer and some of the company's strength equipment might be priced higher due to what he termed as their high value compared to competing products.

The announcement surprised many club operators, most of whom are holding their own membership dues steady due to the economy, according to Eddie Tock, president of Eddie Tock Health Club Sales and Marketing Consulting, Garrison, NY.

Cybex is a preferred provider for Snap Fitness, Chanhassen, MN. Patrick Strait, spokesperson for Snap Fitness, says that during the recession, other manufacturers have been cutting deals and offering incentives such as help with financing, extended warranties and attractive maintenance agreements, to entice Snap franchisees to purchase their products.

“Cybex is coming at it from the opposite view,” Strait says. “They have to do what they need to do, but raising their prices when other providers are trying to work with our franchisees — I think our franchisees will start to look at their other options.”

Tock agrees that many manufacturers are working on a value proposition in which they try to help the facility owner become more successful, which adds value to the relationship. Because of that, he doesn't expect other manufacturers to follow suit and raise their prices.

Strait says that Cybex's price increase might mean an opportunity for other manufacturers to expand their reach into Snap franchisee locations.

“They can say that we are not only not increasing our prices, but we are working with you. So this may be good for our franchisees,” he says.

Because Snap just started franchising in 2003, last year was the first year that its franchisees came up for renewals. Many of those franchisees are still within their lease term agreements with Cybex and other equipment providers, Strait says, so Cybex's price increase may not be noticeable for most existing franchisees until those leases are up. However, new franchisees just purchasing equipment might look more favorably at preferred providers other than Cybex.