Total Gym may have solved its identity crisis. Created in 1974, Total Gym changed its name to efi Sports Medicine in 1987 and entered the commercial fitness market with its GRAVITY System line in 2003.
Now, in 2011, the San Diego-based manufacturer of functional and resistance training equipment reaches another milestone while coming full circle by rebranding as—Total Gym.
Tom Campanaro, president and CEO of Total Gym, admits to some brand confusion over the years for the company, which found its initial success in the rehabilitation market with its incline trainer. That success spawned the first name change to efi (Engineering Fitness International) Sports Medicine. Sports Medicine was added to the name because the company’s core businesses are rehab, sports medicine and athletic training, Campanaro says.
Campanaro, a former trainer in Philadelphia, initially did not market his product to health clubs because he was unsure how they would utilize it. Once he saw the growing influence of trainers in clubs and was comfortable with their education and qualifications, he entered the commercial market.
Total Gym gained nationwide exposure through infomercials starring Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley. Although the rehab market applauded the company’s success on TV, the commercial fitness sector was more apprehensive, considering infomercial products to be cheaply produced and “here today, gone tomorrow,” Campanaro says. Because of its infomercial ties, experts in the industry warned Campanaro against entering the commercial market as Total Gym.
“On the one hand, it was a little bit of a slap in the face to us, but on the other hand, it opened up what we now call GRAVITY,” Campanaro says about the naming of the GRAVITY System, which includes personal training, Pilates and group fitness programs.
However, the GRAVITY System name created more confusion. At trade shows, attendees would see the system, then tell Campanaro that Total Gym was being ripped off by this “other” company.
Today, the GRAVITY System is in more than 1,500 commercial facilities and has more than 5,000 instructors worldwide. Although the efi Sports Medicine name will go away, the GRAVITY name and branding will stay.
“It’s kind of like our software,” Campanaro says. “Total Gym is the hardware, and GRAVITY training is the fitness component, the educational component, by which we layer all of the different exercise programs.”
The rebranding of the company includes a new addition to the product line, Total Gym Sport, as well as an upgrade to its Total Gym GTS and a redesigned Total Gym PowerTower. The new line will launch at next month’s IHRSA show in San Francisco.
This is the first time in seven years that the company has released new incline trainers.
“The functionality was great on the other units,” Campanaro says. “The durability, the quality were great, but it just didn’t have that design edge that these units do.”
A new infomercial for the company is in the works. Campanaro’s hope is that it won’t create any additional confusion.
“Now, people know we’re not an infomercial product,” he says. “They know who we are, so we can now unify back to the original, consistent brand that really has always been there.”