FIBO Focus | April 15, 2020

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In challenging times, TRUE Fitness thrives as the oldest family-owned business in the fitness industry.



FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020





hen you lay claim to the title of the oldest family-owned company in the fitness industry, you have quite a reputation to live up to year after year. With it comes a responsibility to represent not only your company and employees, but the entire industry as well. No problem, says TRUE Fitness, which confidently and proudly honors that responsibility. That’s because the challenge has been embraced for almost 40 years by TRUE Fitness founder and CEO Frank Trulaske, who, since establishing the company in 1981, has adhered to two core guiding principles: Build the highest quality products and support them with superior service. TRUE Fitness has been built on those principles because its executive team – headed by chief operating officer Ward Petito, VP-sales Mike Kelly, international



FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020

TRUE Fitness prides itself on providing solutions and support in addition to premium equipment for nearly four decades. sales director Michael Jeffrey, director of product management David Trulaske and CFO Matt Hacker – has always sought to position the company as a partner to its customers, not just as a supplier. “Providing not only premium fitness equipment, but solutions and support before, during and after the sale,” remains the TRUE Fitness mantra. Responding to the COVID-19 That dedication and connection to its customers – commercial and residential alike – has allowed TRUE Fitness to play a significant role in the overall fitness industry’s ability to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. With most gyms and health clubs shuttered, but home fitness equipment booming, TRUE Fitness sees its role evolving. “As the crisis continues to evolve, TRUE is exploring several avenues in which we can provide support to our customers and partners,” the 3


company tells FIBO Focus. “We want to work with customers, both individuals and clubs, to keep their business going.” As part of its response, TRUE Fitness recently rolled out At-Home Workouts for health club owners to share with their customers, as well as helpful blog articles to assist facilities with the next steps in dealing with an unprecedented business environment. It is also looking to provide ways to make this downtime useful to health clubs whose doors have been locked for weeks now, with educational programs via the TRUE Learning Collective and resources to keep themselves and their businesses healthy during this uncertain time in the fitness industry. In addition, clubs and facilities can use TRUE’s in-house facility planning service if they want to use this time to utilize their space differently. Customers know they can count on TRUE to support them in their

current needs. Like most equipment manufacturers, TRUE Fitness has also seen a significant increase in residential home equipment sales as individuals need to have access to home equipment during the crisis. That works out well for the company since it provides commercial quality, club-inspired residential treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and strength equipment that are easy to maintain. “We’re happy that we provide a great quality workout to people in the comfort of their own home,” a company spokesperson says. “We also continue to offer and have increased At-Home Workouts for both our residential equipment and with no equipment required to ensure customers are supported in their home gym needs.” The TRUE Line-up For almost four decades TRUE Fitness has serviced all of the major fitness markets — athletic,

FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020

TRUE Fitness is counting on the resiliency of the fitness industry to rebound into a “new normal” as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic. corporate, health clubs, YMCA/JCC, government and military, hospitality, medical, multi-housing, student recreation and parks and recreation. Also in its product collection is a line-up of residential equipment that offers commercial quality in a home setting. TRUE Fitness products are categorized by the three pillars of fitness — cardio, strength and flexibility. Its major product lines include the Palladium Strength Series, the Composite Strength Series and the 900 cardio series. TRUE’s rich history is highlighted by a number of key innovations and accomplishments that have changed the face of the fitness business along the way, including: • Introducing the first removable safety key on a treadmill in 1987. • Unveiling in 1992 the patented Soft System that transfers the shock of impact that’s usually absorbed by the walker/runner’s body, into the treadmill itself. 4


• Introducing an orthopedic belt in 1994 and the HRC Heart Rate Control in 1996. • In 1998, developing TRUE’s Patented Soft Select, while the company began international distribution. The turn of the century brought about a number of other innovations, including the 2002 introduction of flexibility products with TRUE Stretch and in 2007 the patented HRC Cruise Control. More recently, in 2015 TRUE acquired Paramount Fitness and expanded its commercial strength portfolio in addition to introducing the Spectrum Adjustable Stride Elliptical. In 2016 it unveiled the Alpine Runner Incline Trainer and 2020 has been highlighted so far by the introduction of the Palladium Strength Series. This year, TRUE Fitness will also be launching technology offerings and releasing its highly anticipated slat treadmill, the Stryker. TRUE executives stress that the

company stands out from the competition because of its long-time dedication to putting the customer first. “We are the oldest family-owned company in the industry because we focus on building equipment and relationships with integrity,” a company spokesperson says. “By purchasing TRUE equipment, facilities become a member of the TRUE family.” Part of its enduring success is that TRUE ensures that owning and maintaining its equipment is a seamless and easy experience. The company goes to great lengths to provide a solid customer experience, including facility planning, installation and service, marketing and support. TRUE can support owners in whatever stage they may be and offers its industry expertise to provide the best experience for members. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly dealt a blow to the fitness business, but TRUE Fitness executives have confidence in the market’s ability to rebound and come out stronger than ever when the “new normal” eventually – and inevitably – returns. “The fitness industry is one of the most dedicated and resilient industries, with a passion for uplifting and supporting one another. We believe every fitness company is working hard to support the needs of club and facility owners as they face uncharted territory in light of COVID-19.” In the meantime, TRUE continues to stay committed to building and providing equipment to meet the changing needs of the industry — both institutional and at-home. It promises several exciting technology and product additions that will be announced in more detail later this year, including the Palladium Strength Selectorized Series and a slat treadmill, plus new console and technology offerings. n


R E B O T C O 1– 4 2020 The leading international trade show for fitness, wellness & health Exhibition Centre Cologne, 1 – 4 October 2020

FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020

One-on-One With …



riginally from Long Island, NY, Jennifer Tamules’ passion for fitness started as a kid who played sports and was always very active. Back at a time before personal training was a big industry, she

went to school for exercise science and found that private fitness was a career that suited her and her goals. She moved to South Florida in 2001, where her first job in a private club as a personal trainer made her further realize that both fitness and the private club industry were her calling. After several years as a trainer, she moved into the management role in one of the nicest country clubs in South Florida, a path that eventually led her to other prestigious golf and country clubs and into planning and helping build out wellness centers. Now, for the past five years she has been director of Lakeside at Harbour Ridge Yacht & Country Club in Palm City, FL. Here she explains that journey to FIBO Focus, the impact COVID-19 has had on the fitness business and where she believes the industry is headed in 2020 and beyond.



What motivates you? The people, both members and my team. Helping people is what I’ve been doing for 25 years in the fitness business. It’s not always about losing weight or getting stronger. Sometimes it is the social or mental aspect of caring about someone or just talking to them that helps more than the exercises themselves. Being a part of a team that is growing together, learning together and helping out a community together is very exciting and meaningful. What’s the favorite part of your job? I love coming to work every day — not everyone can say that. I have a team of about 40 employees that makes coming to work fun and inspiring. We have really become a family and grown together. How about the least favorite? It may sound cheesy, but I don’t have one. What are the challenges in keeping to your own fitness routine when you are in such a demanding position, particularly in-season? What fitness routine? Being the mom of three elementary school-aged

FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020

Jennifer Tamules (left) and the Lakeside staff congratulate Nancy Campbell (center) as Employee of the Quarter for performing CPR on a member and saving his life. Also participating in the ceremony were Christina Jones (second from left), Dana Kavouklis (second from right) and Julie Voss. children is my workout during the season. I do try to motivate myself at least a couple of times a week to do something structured. My boyfriend and I blew the dust off our old P90X-3 CDs and started doing that in the mornings.

Cognition. The function of your body and good posture tells your brain that you’re powerful and confident, which in turn affects your attitudes. The opposite is true as well — poor posture results in dysfunction both physically and mentally.

You don’t get up before dawn to get your workouts in? Being in the fitness profession most people think that I love to get up at 4:30 in the morning to work out — I don’t. Eating somewhat healthy during the season does help me to stay fit and running around the building from one department to the other gets my steps in.

So where is that connection? The relationship between our mind and body is interconnected, meaning our mind influences the way our body reacts and the form of our body also triggers our mind. So even when I am sitting at my desk for way too long, I focus on my posture and what my body is doing. It really helps to have a connection to what is happening with your body and mind.

So much of the fitness business incorporates a mind-body connection in a fitness regimen. Do you subscribe to that, or some variation of that thinking? I do. A friend of mine has a company called Bright Insights. She has taught me the importance of Embodied 7


What do you like about being in the private club sector? We are not in competition. Our sector of the fitness industry works together. We bounce ideas off each other, find out what works and what doesn’t. We want everyone

to succeed and it shows. There is an organization called the CSFA (Club Spa Fitness Association) that we started quite a few years ago and they just partnered with the CMAA (Club Managers Association of America). It’s a great way to get ideas and see what’s trending for the moment. How has that helped in the current COVID-19 situation? Right now we have a large email chain about COVID-19 to see how we are dealing with it, how other clubs are attempting to adapt and what we can do to keep our members engaged in fitness through this very interesting period. What do you look for in the people you hire for your club? Passion. If you’re not passionate then you shouldn’t do it. I would say that for every industry and career. Having interviewed many people over the years I’ve learned – the hard

FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020

way – what to look for. You get into the fitness industry for two reasons, I believe: To better yourself and to help others to be better. You need to have a passion for both to succeed. What do you think your clients are looking for in their fitness efforts and how do you give that to them? Excitement. Keeping things fresh is very important in our industry. If you do the same routine every Monday, Wednesday and Friday your clients are going to get bored. If our spin class is the same every day, our

members won’t show up. So trying to get new and different group exercise instructors and keep our trainers focused, educated and on-trend to what’s happening out there is important. Most of our members come to the gym daily because of the staff. If the staff wasn’t as good as it is, people would stay home.

driving through a strip mall, you can see that it’s everywhere. Sometimes that’s a weakness though: Do you really want a new company that’s in it for a quick buck training you when they are not qualified? Educated, well-qualified trainers can be hard to find when our industry is saturated with bogus certifications.

How would you characterize the state of the fitness business in the United States, pre-COVID-19 of course? Fitness was booming in the U.S. Just looking at a commercial on TV or

How is technology changing not only how you do your job and communicate with your clients, but the fitness industry as a whole? I have to say that technology hasn’t

THE COVID-19 IMPACT How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted you professionally and personally? It’s been a very trying time for everyone, but I am grateful that my family is still healthy and I am still working, although in a much different capacity. We have turned my building into a distribution center for essential items. We sell toilet paper, paper towels, tissue, bleach, eggs, milk and bread from our fitness center. We also have three of my employees doing personal grocery shopping for our members who cannot go out. It’s really a win-win — we get to help our members and my staff gets to work. What are you doing to keep in touch with your clients in these challenging times? We have daily water aerobics classes going on still. We have nine members and an instructor to keep the “no more than 10 people” rule in effect. It has really helped to keep our members active and engaged. We have two classes a day Monday through Friday. We are will be starting a variety of virtual classes through YouTube and Zoom in the next few weeks and we are emailing out and posting weekly fitness challenges on Facebook. What do you think the business will look like when we eventually return to a “new normal?” To be honest, I’m not quite sure. It seems that won’t be for a while whatever it may be. Will people want to congregate? Will they want to come back to the same or will it really be a new normal where people tend to stay distant. Being Harbour Ridge is such a socially active club, I’m hoping it will be a quick return how it used to be. 8


Jennifer Tamules and her staff at Harbour Ridge have turned their building into a distribution center for essential items for club members.

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Located on the St. Lucie River, Harbour Ridge is a private, 885-acre community with 695 residences that overlook its two golf courses and acres of Audubon-certified nature preserves. The championship golf courses wind along the river with views throughout the entire courses. The 22,000-square-foot Lakeside Spa Fitness and Tennis Center is a state-of-the-art complex that hosts a full-service salon and barber shop, signature spa services, a large spacious cardio, free weight and stretch area, TRX classes, spin room, physical therapy, private or group Pilates, along with a juice and smoothie bar. It also features the eight award-winning Har-Tru tennis courts and a stadium exhibition court along with lap swimming and water aerobics. really encroached into my personal universe yet. We are still old school when it comes to most things. We keep workouts in a file written on paper with a pencil. We try to keep the “personal” in personal training. Your members still like the “oldschool” touch? Our club is automated when it comes to making reservations, tee times, tennis lessons, etc. At Lakeside, you have to call up to make an appointment in all departments. Members sometimes get frustrated, but being able to speak with someone is something I don’t want to give up yet. Talking with our members and figuring out exactly what they need is something we can’t do if we don’t have that human contact.



What role do you see FIBO USA playing in the U.S. fitness business? It could be huge. We haven’t had something new for a while. The fitness conferences and shows get sort of redundant after 25 years and to have something new and exciting on the horizon seems enlightening. Based on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to the typical club owner or trainer on how to be better – and make more money – in the fitness business? Stay focused on what you believe in. Too many people try to be trendy. Sometimes it works, but I’ve learned to stick to the basics and excel at those. Finally, in what direction do you

see the fitness business in the U.S. headed in 2020, post COVID-19 and beyond? That’s a very interesting question right now. The entire face of our industry is changing. Online videos, streaming and distance training are what’s happening. Are people going back to gyms after this is over or will staying home be more logical, economical and easier? It’s going to be a toss-up. So what’s your prediction? I don’t think gym goers are going to be flocking back to their fitness centers. Maybe little by little, but I think that the online universe is going to be inundated with fitness videos and new trends. Being that fitness is my life, I’m hoping for a quick recovery and normalcy. n

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et’s face it folks, tensions are high. Sudden change is hardly ever expected or pleasant at first. Re-framing our mindset to see the positives, to find opportunities for improvement and progress during a time where it feels like the entire world is at a standstill feels like an impossible task.

Between homeschooling the kids, handling financial hardships and the general dread of impending doom, it’s easy to get mentally backed into the corner and throw in the towel. But let’s not forget the night is darkest before the dawn. We need to remember how far humanity has come. There will eventually be an

Danial Palacios urges individuals to focus on what’s important to them.

end in sight and even though we can’t guarantee that the world will be the same on the other side of all of this, we can begin taking steps to stop, focus and mentally prepare to adapt and evolve with the changing tides. Let’s take a look at what tools we have available to mentally and physically deload our systemic stress to bring our bodies and minds back to a place where healing and growth can eventually begin again. Spoiler alert, be prepared to get physical. Fact: Physical exercise has major psychological and emotional benefits. Trim the Fat No, I’m not talking about body composition. In fact, I would say this is literally the time to prioritize an exercise regimen that goes back to the basics! Goals are important. So let’s frame this from the perspective of survival and performing well enough to not only survive, but thrive. Slow down and realize that a lot of stress is flying around right now. This stress finds its way into your brain, which tells your internal organs



FIBO FOCUS • April 15, 2020

to release all manner of stress hormones. These hormones, like adrenaline, dopamine and cortisol, are good for your survival. Seeing as most of our modern lives do not involve very many fight or flight scenarios, however, we learn to adapt to all of our environmental, social and societal stressors by, well, just dealing. The problem with this constant exposure to stress hormones is that we get really bad at clearing it all out. We have to focus on prioritizing and really identify what matters most, and ultimately what activities will actually benefit us. My guess is that it’s not scrolling TikToks for three hours a day. Intellectually prioritizing activities as necessities, responsibilities and desires can be an effective coping mechanism for identifying all the junk we involve ourselves with that are simply a waste of time while honing in on those that will actually benefit and improve our lives. Putting into practice is where things get tricky. Self-Evaluate We have to really ask ourselves questions in order to get answers — maybe not answers we like, but answers nonetheless. Questions like: • “What aspects of this situation do I really have control over?” • “Of the aspects that I can control, have I exhausted all of the potential options that may improve the situation?” • “What could I being doing differently to improve how I’m executing my plans and how I feel about my approach toward achieving my goal?” When we’re in the thick of struggle, or feel trapped, it’s easy to get 11


caught up and fail to see all of the options that are really available. In fact, creating space from the situation and stepping away from a frustrating activity or situation can clear your head well enough to see it from a different angle. Every day I’m hearing reports from clients talking about how trapped – physically, emotionally and psychologically they feel – stiff, tight and incapable of moving forward. The spiral begins, physically and emotionally crippled by fear the situation doesn’t clear up. Do Something for Yourself What options are available really? Get up, take a walk, breathe deep, increase your heart rate, feel the sun shining on your skin, stretch, dance, sing, meditate, pray — but for the love of all that’s good and decent in the world turn off the social media and news and do something for yourself. All of those things we’ve been putting off and downright ignoring are suddenly the very activities we should be partaking in. Learn a new skill. Knitting is a skill. Start that. Learn to breathe. It really is a skill. Not only that, learn to hold your breath. That’s a skill too. A beneficial one at that. Move. Daily. Remember, this is no time to be worrying about achieving our aesthetics goals. Keeping in mind that moving daily and keeping to nutritional habits that work for us individually to boost our immune system, strengthen our resolve and develop balance is the ultimate goal — looking better could be a surprising side effect when you’re becoming more mentally healthy. The sheer act of removing the anxiety, shame and fear about not crushing it in the gym can be

The sheer act of removing the anxiety, shame and fear about not crushing it in the gym can be liberating and improve the end, long-term result. liberating and improve the end, long-term result. This, of course, takes practice, but making a daily habit of moving and improving your approach to what works for you and engages you in a healthy balanced lifestyle that suits you, can little by little create lifechanging results. With all of the obstacles and trials of daily life it can seem so much harder when it feels like life just piled another mountain in front of you. Focus on one problem or task at a time and all of the options that lay before you, then pick the simplest, most actionable, next right thing you can do. Keep it basic, keep it simple, do not over complicate the process. Trim the fat from your life and habits, and always, Live Kinetically. n About the author Dan Palacios is the owner and founder of Kinetic Training. He can be reached at 954-504-2147; or on Instagram @livekinetically