ICON is a global leader in Health and Fitness products with one of the most diverse ranges in the marketplace. The Birmingham Gazette caught up with ICON UK national sales manager Stuart Palmer to find out more about his work with the brand.
With no previous background in sports of fitness prior to joining ICON Health and Fitness, Stuart was however a keen sportsman in his spare time. He has always followed the leisure and sports industry closely so when the opportunity came up to for ICON he jumped at the chance. We were keen to find out more. In a recession not everyone can afford an expensive gym membership, so that seemed like a great place to start.
Birmingham Gazette: Do you recommend investing in some home exercise equipment?
Stuart: Definitely, you don’t have to spend huge amounts of money on home fitness equipment. The products these days are so advanced and incredible value for money that they’re worth the investment. The benefits of having a piece of home fitness equipment in your own home is that it’s always accessible; can be used by the whole family; and on many advanced machines, you can even have the benefits of a personal trainer via downloadable content that suits your own fitness goals.
Birmingham Gazette: What is your favourite type of exercise equipment?
Stuart: This is a tough one as there are so many brilliant pieces of exercise equipment available on the current market, however, I’d have to say the treadmill. I feel I can keep going for longer on this and with the Ifit Live feature powered by Google Maps, I can pretend to run in places I may never have the opportunity to visit.
Birmingham Gazette: How often do you like to work out?
Stuart: Ideally I’d like to work out more – at least 2-3 times a week – but ironically the job doesn’t always allow me the time to do this.
Birmingham Gazette: Who do you supply to mainly?
Stuart: We supply the key fitness specialists such as Fitness Superstore, Sweatband and Powerhouse Fitness as well as John Lewis and Elverys Sports in Ireland. We also provide a specific range to the mail order retailers such as Argos, Shop Direct and Tesco Direct.
Birmingham Gazette: What is the best part of your role?
Stuart: Knowing that the products we sell are actually making a difference to people’s lives is the best part of what I do. The features and subsequent benefits of our products are designed to help the customer to achieve their goals or targets and are not simply a set of programmes on a machine.
Birmingham Gazette: How important is exercise for the modern working person?
Stuart: Exercise is extremely important, not just for the obvious health reasons but also mentally and socially. These days the balance between our working and personal lives is weighted towards our work in many peoples’ cases. Exercise is a great way to either de-stress from the working day or to prepare yourself for it. Having recently become a father I now more than ever see the importance of maintaining a certain level of fitness.
Birmingham Gazette: What do you think about the Government’s decision to reduce compulsory games and sports in secondary schools?
Stuart: Following the Olympics I think there was always going be a big focus on grass roots sports and fitness, especially with children. In contrast to compulsory games in secondary schools, the Government has pledged to make competitive sports compulsory in primary schools. Involving children in any activity at any age is always going to be beneficial to develop an understanding of the importance of being part of a healthy society.
Birmingham Gazette: What CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is ICON involved in?
Stuart: At ICON we developed EcoFit which is a company-wide initiative to guide our business model in an environmentally friendly direction. All aspects of the business are reviewed and monitored including design, logistics, manufacturing, and packaging. For more information you can see www.nordictrack.co.uk/love-world. We have also teamed up with Love the World. We offset the carbon emissions we produce and buy carbon credits so that our consumers can rest assured that their piece of fitness equipment is carbon neutral.
Birmingham Gazette: What exciting projects is the business involved in at the moment?
Stuart: We are continuing to develop and build on ifit Live as a fitness management tool for consumers, with the focus on creating a global fitness community connected by the site and with common interests. Innovation remains our key driver, having recently introduced the Boston Marathon Treadmill in the US and work has begun on the 3rd Generation Tour De France bike. We are venturing further than equipment and have seen immediate success of our Altra footwear brand, recently overtaking Reebok in specialist running shoe sales in the U.S.
To find out more about ICON’s products, please visit www.nordictrack.co.uk and www.proformfitness.co.uk