I've never been one to want to see how sausage is made. When I was just a tot my grandfather took me to a slaughterhouse because he raised cattle and wanted me to know that my food doesn't just appear out of nowhere. I'll give you the rest of the story later.
The recent Runner's World issue had a treadmill review section and as they had in the past, the writer consulted with us before writing the story. We explained how the sausage was made and they printed it so since the cat is out of the bag, we thought we would provide additional insight.
Our hesitation about sharing the sausage making process in the fitness industry with you is that it could scare you away from making any choice. Hopefully this doesn't scare you but remember, you have been forewarned.
Secret #1- price really makes a difference. As was reported by Runner's World, to get the cost down to the magic price points consumers love, you have to cheapen the wire harnesses, use plastic in the construction of the rollers, go with the cheapest bearings or bushings possible, etc. Although you can overpay for some of the brand names, typically you get what you pay for. You aren't putting it over on your neighbor when he buys a $2,000 elliptical and you get the $599 Costco special. There is a reason for the price difference.
Secret #2- quality is typically hidden. People still ask about motor size, roller size, stride length, programming, etc. but the key factor is always quality. If it breaks down when you get going on your routine, it is very hard to remain consistent. We know which factories get their bearings from which suppliers for instance and we also know the quality levels of the different suppliers. We get weekly reports on these shipments, so we are always up to date on the quality different companies are using.
Secret #3- many brands are made by the same factory. You might say, "I know this one!" Most people know about Icon but they don't know about Johnson, Dyaco, and the multitude of Asian suppliers that interchangeably make most of the other machines on the market. Most people don't realize it but if an Asian supplier has a hot model, they might have another factory help supplement production so even if you think one factory made it, another might have done so.
Secret #4- the same part can have different components. I ran into this about 20 years ago. I was working for one of the largest fitness companies and was talking to one of the purchasing agents and although we were buying the same motor for multiple machines, depending upon which model that part was going into, they might specify different brushes, different bearings, different metal qualities, etc. You really have to know what you are looking at in order to determine quality.
Secret #5- most people don't use their machine. The dark secret of the fitness business is that only about a maximum of 20% of the people who buy a machine consistently use it. That's why when I am conversing with a newbie, I typically encourage her to buy down in the line and then if they find they are consistently using it, trade up to a more suitable model.
So now that you know how the sausage is made, I'll get back to my story. Fortunately my grandfather only showed me the cow going in one end and us picking up steaks and hamburgers at the other end of the facility. He got his message across and one thing I know is that I never want to see how my sausage is made.