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CONNECTED Echelon focuses on accessibility and fitness for everyone.


FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020




odern life is all about connectivity — at work, at home, when out with friends and, increasingly, in the gym. It is that connection that Echelon CEO Lou Lentine goes to the office every day to accomplish with the equipment and technology company he heads. “At Echelon we focus on inclusivity and accessibility for everyone,” Lentine says, explaining that the company offers an at-home connected experience with a wide range of workouts, from cycling to yoga to Tae Bo, all from professional instructors. “Our consumer is looking for fitness at their fingertips and our commercial grade lines allow for the connected experience, wherever their life takes them,” he continues. “While our product portfolio continues to grow, our commitment to affordability and achievability 2


remains central to our DNA.” Echelon is built on the understanding that many commercial fitness centers may not have the

resources to offer in-person instruction to every member 24/7. Thus the Echelon line of commercial products with live and on-demand coaching

Lou Lentine’s mission is to bring affordable interactive fitness to all individuals.

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The Echelon Row is one of many Echelon products designed to allow customers to stay connected in and out of the gym. and instruction are proving to be an excellent supplement for these commercial facilities. “We started from the belief that we could fill a void in the fitness market – that convergence of premium equipment and content that is approachable to a broader swath of consumers commercially and residentially – and our rapid success has proven this to be true,” Lentine says. Fitness, Affordability, Connection It is part of Lentine’s mission to make products that reach out to all levels of the fitness community — and to make those products affordable. Again, for him it comes down to connectivity. “Our members are never on their own,” Lentine explains, since its live



streaming and On-Demand programs provide a unique sense of community. This tight-knit community allows instructors and members to communicate and share inspiration on a one-on-one level and the company encourages suggestions, motivation and selfies from members to other members. It is important to Lentine that Echelon service its target customers who are, as he puts it, “real people.” They are people looking for products that work for a full range of body types. In addition, its live, streaming and On-Demand content has something for everyone — beginner, intermediate and advanced. “Our products are so convenient that anyone can use them at any time of the day,” he points out, so

whether they are a stay-at-home parent, a medical professional working the night shift or a college student, Echelon can help them achieve their fitness goals. The Echelon difference is actually rather straightforward: It provides state-of-the-art fitness equipment, content and a community experience at half the cost of the industry average. To achieve this it offers multiple modalities within the Connected Fitness category. “Echelon offers fitness for everyone because we have that unique combination of a range of product offerings, live, streaming and on-demand fitness, high-quality technology and design and much more affordable pricing for residential and commercial properties than

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well-known competitors,” says Lentine. In addition, its instructors come from a variety of backgrounds, so it is easy for its members to build a connection with them and the brand. Lentine likes to bill Echelon as a one-stop shop for bikes, rowers, treadmills and on- and off-line content led by some of the biggest names in the industry. Echelon also boasts exclusive partnerships with industry heavyweights such as Billy Blanks, Denise Austin and Katie Austin. In order to reach this broad target market, Echelon products are distributed through several different channels — directly to consumers through its website; at several large national retailers; at regional specialty fitness retailers; commercially through regional authorized distributors; and directly to large national health club chains. “Our mission as a company from the start was to offer inclusive fitness, which means that we don’t see the value in limiting access to anyone who wants to make a positive effect in their lives through fitness,” he continues.

The Echelon Reflect 50-inch Touchscreen

The Home-Studio Connection The debate in the fitness business in 2020 is the competition between the growing in-home fitness segment and the traditional studio/club fitness businesses. Lentine wants Echelon to exist in both markets. “We are pleased to offer both in harmony,” Lentine says, pointing out that its studios in Chattanooga, TN, and Miami are the heart of its production and product development. Or, as he puts it, “This is where all of the live magic happens.” Local members are able to attend live classes that fit

THE TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION TECHNOLOGY HAS ALLOWED USERS TO BRING FITNESS INTO the comfort of their own home and has certainly made working out more accessible. And since not everyone has easy access to professional gym facilities or content – or has the time to take advantage of all that is out there – this technology has made the world closer in many ways. “The same holds true in fitness,” says Echelon CEO Lou Lentine. “The connected fitness Echelon offers lets people work out when and where is best for them. Our focus is on inclusivity and accessibility for everybody.” This same technology has allowed its members to create social media groups to discuss classes and their journey. 4


“We love that people have welcomed us into their homes and technology has allowed us to be a part of their journey,” he adds. And for those that are fortunate enough to have access to a fitness center, technology has allowed exercisers to gain knowledge and information to improve their fitness journey. “This has empowered people to feel confident that they are exercising correctly,” Lentine continues. “That empowerment leads to improved results and increased desire to keep chasing goals.” The company’s social media efforts take this connectivity to an even higher level. Echelon uses social media – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – to keep its community up to date on new classes, products and any news happening at the company. n

FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020

The Echelon EX 5S is part of the Echelon lineup of interactive equipment. their schedule, but so can its global riders. Echelon streams every ride so Cindy in San Diego can be in class the same time Brian from Chattanooga attends one live. And if they missed one of the several daily live classes, they can upload it from the on-demand section and take it on their own time, in the comfort of their

own home, or even a second time to beat their past scores. The bikes in the studio are the same as what consumers ride at home. Riders and instructors are able to see their stats on screen. Members can also mirror their apps to a smart TV for an experience that feels as if they are live in studio.

INSIDE ECHELON IT BEGAN WITH CONNECT SMART BIKES, EXPANDED to the Reflect Touch-Screen Workout Mirror and the Echelon Row rowing machines and is heading into the world of Echelon treadmills. Today Echelon is a growing fitness equipment and technology company that is taking the at-home fitness experience to new heights by offering high-tech fitness equipment, personalized workouts and an online community at a reasonable cost to both the consumer and commercial market. Its products today are distributed through mass retail, sporting goods, membership retailers and online, while its commercial grade line of products is sold to clubs, studios, hospitality and multi-family properties. It all adds up to a business built on the ever-increasing trend of home workouts facilitated by technology. n



All of this is part of the larger fitness industry dynamic in 2020 and club owners need to be on top of these trends to survive and thrive as the industry merges technology and fitness like never before. The fitness industry is estimated at $30 billion a year and analysts suggest it is growing at approximately five percent per year. Technology – and the ability to evolve to provide the unique experience that the consumer is craving – is at the heart of that growth. It is important to Lentine that this is where Echelon fits in. “We are providing a connected fitness experience that is accessible to everyone,” Lentine says. “The fitness industry is craving something new. New trends and products are key elements in keeping exercisers motivated and thus fueling growth. We are proud that Echelon is at the front edge of the strong growth trend toward connected fitness.” This connection to the future is why Lentine is so optimistic about not only Echelon’s future, but of the entire industry’s as well. “Echelon has exploded since it came onto the scene with our mission of inclusivity and fitness for everyone and our vision is to continue creating high-quality products, at an affordable price, that connect us no matter where we are in the world,” he says. Its developers and creators are working to create a united line where members only need one subscription to access each product and can conveniently use one app for all their workout needs. “As we grow and team up with other brands and personalities our consumers already know and trust, we know we can take connected home fitness technology across the world to where it’s never been before.” n

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ne of the newest trends in fitness involves the delivery of streaming group exercise content to consumers wherever they are — call it the Disney+/Apple TV/Netflix streaming war effect. While the ondemand, at-home workout trend is not revolutionary (lest we forget bike shorts, over-the-pant thongs and leg lifts à la Jane Fonda), 2019 saw an explosion of new and repackaged entrants in the at-home fitness space. (Equinox, LifeFitness, Echelon, MYXfitness, iFit via NordicTrack, Tonal, Mirror, Openfit via Beachbody co-founder John Congdon, to name



a few). All of these companies took aim to penetrate the growing $94 billion global fitness industry. According to 2019 research done by L.E.K. Insights, digital fitness content market growth in the U.S. alone translates to 14 million new subscribers and a $3.3 billion market opportunity in 2020. Writing about the recent CES 2020 technology conference, Natt Garun of The Verge says, “Fitness is now as trendy as owning the latest iPhone.” Therefore, it is natural to assume the focus of attention centers on the two largest generations of fitness users, Millennials and Gen Zs,

which now make up 80 percent of the fitness market. These “anywhere and everywhere” generations are carnivorous consumers of 24/7 digital streaming content, including exercise content. As true digital natives, this generation of consumers has grown up with the Internet in its pocket, technology seamlessly integrated in their daily lives, and has evolving needs for their fitness experiences. Research also shows that 85 percent of club members also exercise outside of clubs. Despite this demand from new fitness business growth and consumers, streaming and downloadable

FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020

Les Mills On Demand (LMOD)/The Trip. fitness content has been adopted by a marginal percentage of global fitness operators. According to the Club Intel 2019 International Fitness Industry Trend Report evaluating club operators globally who have embraced this newest form of fitness delivery via digital technology, European club operators are the clear leaders with an adoption level of 14 percent. The adoption levels in other regions of the world range from four-to-seven percent. Mobile apps, which are used by over 80 percent of people to connect with 7


businesses, have only been adopted by 20 percent of the fitness industry. It is clear that there is a lot of untapped upside for club operators in the digital technology at-home fitness space. As I touched upon in my FIBO Focus January 15 article, “Tech & The Health Club – Bridging The Gap,” one of our big goals is to offer our health club partners and their members a 360-degree fitness solution that seamlessly blends the physical and the digital, or what we call the “consumerization of clubs.”

Expanding the four walls of the traditional fitness facility and enabling members to exercise where and when they want is a critical requirement we felt we needed to address, especially for our health club partners. Clubs are the heartbeat of our industry and it’s vital that they stay at the center of the fitness journey. As more and more consumers extend this journey to include digital, we’ve implemented ways to retain the clubs as a part of the digital fitness experience. One solution was establishing our

FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020

partnership with Netpulse in 2019. With Netpulse, we enable clubs to own their members’ fitness journey wherever and whenever they want to workout. Clubs are able to offer a co-branded Les Mills On Demand subscription to their members at a preferred member rate, helping to boost member loyalty and keeping them in the habit of exercising even when they can’t make it to the gym. Our video streaming platform Les Mills On Demand offers a solution to the challenges of the evolving digital fitness world, allowing users to stream the most popular Les Mills programs anywhere, from any digital device. We have also consistently registered a 96 percent satisfaction rate among consumers who use LMOD. We attribute our growth and high 8


satisfaction in Les Mills On Demand to several factors: • Les Mills 50-plus year history of being a leader in fitness globally. Experience and branding matter. • Les Mills was one of the first fitness companies to bring this technology to the market. • Our ability to offer consumers access to more than 800 Les Mills workouts complemented by the hottest music tracks in fitness. Many workouts are evolutionary in nature and one-of-a-kind when released. • Fifteen new workouts released a month. Workouts range from 15 to 55 minutes in length. • Very engaged and supportive Les Mills global fitness online community. • Superior technical quality and support, which includes timely response to any user inquiries via email or social media. The Les Mills On Demand App is accessible to all TV, laptop, mobile and tablet devices and is iOS, Android, Chromecast and Airplay compatible. • Very little upfront expense tied to equipment. • Low cost of the service. • Existing and expanding partnership with fitness clubs globally where clubs are able to offer a co-branded service.

strict brick-and-mortar experience to integrating a digital one, the operators who pursue these technology platforms more assertively will be the ones who remain relevant in the fitness industry. n About the author Jean-Michel Fournier is currently the CEO of Les Mills Media, a division of Les Mills International, a global fitness company based in New Zealand with offices around the world. As head of media at Les Mills, Jean-Michel oversees their worldwide consumer business, the entire B2B and direct-to-consumer digital portfolio of products (including Les Mills On Demand), as well as their worldwide music management portfolio. Jean-Michel is a seasoned entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, advisor to the French government for economic development and a graduate of Harvard Business School. He is currently domiciled in Silicon Valley and spends a consistent amount of time in New Zealand and Europe tied to his role for Les Mills Media and current advisory roles. He can be reached at

Bridging the Gap Bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds of fitness clubs continues to present a tremendous opportunity for continued growth. We also recently embarked on a release of We feel this is a space ripe for technological evolution in fitness. Fitness coaching and Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be a big disruptor in the future. We remain very optimistic and confident digital technology and SVOD will have a huge impact on the future of fitness as technology emerges and matures. As fitness moves from a

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magine the benefit to the health and fitness club business if Americans were able to pay their gym memberships, buy their equipment and pay their personal trainers with pre-tax dollars! After years of effort on Capitol Hill, this possibility is coming closer to realization in the form of the muchanticipated PHIT Act making its way slowly but surely through the halls of Congress. The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act would allow consumers to pay for physical activity expenses (from gym fees to sports equipment) using funds in pre-tax medical accounts (Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Savings Accounts). Consumers would see a 20-37 percent discount on sportsrelated expenses. The PHIT Act would make any expense exclusively intended for the sole purpose of being physically active eligible for FSA/HSA reimbursement. Among the fees it would cover Gym and Health Club Membership Dues, Exercise and Yoga Classes, Personal Trainers, Sports League Fees, School Pay-toPlay Sports Fees, Bike Rentals, Sports and Fitness Equipment, SportExclusive Footwear, Tournament and Race Fees, Youth Camps and Fitness 9


Industry executives and athletes will gather on Capitol Hill next month to lobby for the PHIT Act as part of National Health Through Fitness Day. Tracking Devices. Fitness industry members can help move the PHIT Act along by participating in the annual Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) National Health Through Fitness Day, which every year brings together industry leaders, celebrity athletes, the American College of Sports Medicine, PHIT Coalition partners, PE teachers and other physical activity advocates to meet with Congress

to push for physical activity policies, including the PHIT Act, to promote sports health and fitness in America. This year’s event is set for March 10–11 right on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Industry professionals looking to get more involved with National Health Through Fitness Day should contact Bill Sells, To register: nhtfd-2020/

FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020

One-on-One With...



ean Garner’s interest in fitness started as he was preparing to become a firefighter. That led to a passion

in helping others and he decided to start his first gym. Since those early days, Garner has owned three different fitness facilities, has worked as a personal trainer and also has managed a multimillion dollar per year training facility in Miami, FL. A true Renaissance Man, Garner has also created DVDs, multiple digital fitness products and has been named one of the Top Trainers in the World by Men’s Health magazine.

Recently, after seeing what the online space can provide fitness professionals and clients, he founded EntreFit, where he guides fit pros and gym owners to create or scale online offerings as a component of their business. FIBO Focus caught up with Garner to get his insight into the fitness business. He can be reached at; 10


FIBO Focus: What was your journey like to your current position in the fitness business? Sean Garner: It’s been a long, winding journey to say the least. I can honestly say that I’ve worked in almost every aspect of the industry — as a gym owner of garage-style gyms and at a strength and conditioning facility; as a strength and conditioning coach for a hockey club associated with the NHL; as a personal trainer; and as general manager of a luxury fitness brand. That’s impressive enough. But I hear there’s even more. Yes, I’ve also worked with Men’s Health magazine to create DVDs and digital products. I started and scaled my own online fitness programs and built influential relationships with several big brands. That sounds exhausting. The bottom line is that I’ve been exposed to several areas in the industry and have worked my tail off. Like many fit pros I’ve sacrificed family time and my personal life — missing big moments, working myself into exhaustion. Being told that ‘This is just how the fitness industry is’ led to me looking for a better way. And what is that better way? Growing online fitness businesses over the last few years has opened the doors for new and, I believe, better ways to serve clients on their health and fitness journey. I now

FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020

serve as director of development for a major fitness app and continue to consult with brands. Most of my time is now spent helping gyms and trainers start and scale digital sources of revenue through my coaching and marketing agency, EntreFit. So what is the focus of your business now? EntreFit’s focus is on helping trainers and gym owners grow and scale their online businesses. There are many quality trainers who have spent their careers focused on becoming excellent at their craft, but that’s left them behind in the world of marketing and business. The industry is changing and we are living and working in the digital fitness boom. So we help trainers and gyms create, market and grow their online fitness businesses so they can impact more people while creating time flexibility and financial freedom. What inspires and motivates you now and how has that changed over the years? Eleven years ago, when I got into fitness, online components of fitness were non-existent. People had websites, but you didn’t see gym owners or trainers having online programs or products for purchase. But now the doors are wide open and it comes with the good and the bad. Good and bad? How’s that? There are many online trainers with no real fitness training experience. Unfortunately, they are often beating out fitness professionals with real experience who are actually experts in their fields. I’m passionate about changing that and magnifying the good in fitness. There are millions of people who need what we, the quality professionals, have to offer. And it’s my passion to help fitness professionals grow an online business to 11


Sean Garner has created DVDs, multiple digital fitness products and has been named one of the Top Trainers in the World by Men’s Health magazine. serve people better while improving their quality of life in both time and finances. This sounds personal to you? Unfortunately, there are many quality trainers – just like I was – that are on the verge of burnout, working a ton of hours and not making the money they deserve. There’s a better way in online fitness and I’m excited to help them discover and excel in this new sector of fitness. What is your health and fitness philosophy and how do you translate that to your clients? My health and fitness philosophy is to focus on the small daily habits that add up to the big impact. Just like we teach clients that it’s not the occasional cheat meal that creates obesity, but the daily choices they make that determine the outcome of their health and fitness effort.

And how does that translate to your business? It’s the same thing in the fitness business. It’s the daily improvements and things we do for our business that can leave you in a much better position over the months and years to come. We often overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term. How has technology impacted you and your clients’ way of doing business? It’s everything. Tech has allowed for the online sector of fitness to exist. Often I teach fit pros to not make the tech side too complicated when they first start out. The main things in getting clients and providing a great customer service experience in the gym are still the same or similar in the online space. But tech can make online fitness scalable in a greater way.

FIBO FOCUS • February 18, 2020

What role do you see in-home exercise playing in the future and how is this trend co-existing with traditional health clubs and gyms? People are getting busier and so many services are being provided ondemand. Many people are looking for convenience in everything, even in their fitness and health services. That’s where in-home exercise is gaining traction. How does that work? Clients’ schedules are getting more full and trends in tech and in-home fitness are suggesting that clients want options. They love the experience and communities gyms can provide, but want the option of workouts they can do on the road or at home or coaching they can receive 24/7. This is where gyms can expand by offering fusion (in-person and athome) programs to existing clients as well as offering online offerings for people who love and follow the brand but live outside the gym’s area.

EntreFit helps trainers and gyms create, market and grow their online fitness businesses so they can impact more people while creating time flexibility and financial freedom.

Switching gears a bit, how would you characterize the state of the fitness business? What are its strengths and weaknesses? The fitness industry in the United States is relatively young and

SEAN GETS SOCIAL How important is social media to your brand and how you connect to people? It’s vital. I don’t see how a business could really survive and thrive without it. Approximately 45 percent of the world is on social media. And the average person spends almost 2.5 hours a day on social media — that’s way more time than most people spend at a gym. So what does that mean for gyms? You’ve got to go meet your ideal customer where they are — on social media. If you’re not putting out value-added content to your target 12


clients then your brand is dying, if not already dead. Is that all there is to it? Don’t hide behind social media. People are bombarded with advertisements all day long. Go deep with your marketing efforts and not just wide. In 2020 we will see brands succeed by pushing people to more one-on-one conversations such as through chat or DM services like ManyChat or text message services. People crave this one-on-one attention and connection. Direct response marketing is an incredible and exciting way to do that. n

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exciting. There are huge possibilities in the near future, with a wide variety of ways people can diversify their revenue streams and impact more people. However, there are very few innovators. Now so many gyms are adding boutique or group class fitness. I’m concerned that many are jumping into the trends too late and will fall behind or end up closing shop, even exiting the industry. We all have to work to stay current and be creative in how we can best help our target clients. We are in a service industry — how can we best serve and add value to people so they can improve their health and fitness and do it in a way that’s fun, sustainable and impactful? What role do you see FIBO USA playing in the U.S. fitness business? FIBO USA provides a place for industry leaders and influencers to unite and learn from one another. One of the things I love most about FIBO USA and the conference is that there’s something for everyone in the industry — the trainer, gym owner, fitness enthusiasts, tech, health and equipment brands. All the aspects of the industry are coming together under one banner. When we are united we can innovate and make things better for both people working in the industry and the clients that need our help. So 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? Stop thinking about yourself and your brand and think more about your customer. If you truly wake up each day and ask yourself ‘How can I better understand and serve the people that I am called to?,’ you will never run out of clients. When 13


Garner’s health and fitness philosophy is to focus on the small daily habits that add up to the big impact for his clients. you serve, you get results that more people are attracted to. Finally, in what direction do you see yourself in particular and the fitness business in general headed in 2020 and beyond? I’m pumped at what’s ahead. This is the best time to be in fitness. I want to continue to grow and expand my company EntreFit to help more trainers and gyms reach more clients with innovation, creativity and customer

experience in the digital space. As tech and AI expand in the fitness space there are more ways consumers can become disconnected to human interaction, which will also create more desire for this one-onone connection. Brands, gyms and personal trainers need to be thinking about how they can be a part of both — how can they utilize tech to create convenience, but also provide that personal connection that elicits results and loyalty. n

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FIBO Focus | February 15, 2020  

There is no denying that technology is becoming an integral part of the fitness industry! In this edition, we learn from Echelon how to use...

FIBO Focus | February 15, 2020  

There is no denying that technology is becoming an integral part of the fitness industry! In this edition, we learn from Echelon how to use...

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