Innovation means an endless pursuit of the next best thing, but it is easy to lose track of where you come from when your sights are always set on the future. At SportsArt we hold tight to our roots and the original vision that our founder, Paul Kuo, had for this company to help ground us as we move forward. Today we had time to catch up Paul to discuss the company’s history in the fitness industry.
Thank you for joining us! To begin, can you tell us what inspired you to start your own company?
“Originally, I worked for a company that manufactured the shafts of lawn darts. When that company filed for bankruptcy, I borrowed money to build a specialized machine that was twice as efficient as the traditional lathe machines they were using. It was through that experience that I realized I could envision and create machines that performed better than present factory standards.”
And how did SportsArt come about after that?
“The company that would become SportsArt started in 1977. At first, it was only an original design manufacturer of fitness equipment. In 1985, we designed and produced a manual treadmill for home use. When that proved successful, we began work on our next product – an AC induction motor.
We decided to create our own brand in 1995. With the help of a consultant, Keith Strandberg, we decided to call ourselves SportsArt.”
Why did you decide on the name ‘SportsArt’ in particular?
“The ‘Sports’ part was a reference to movement, activity, and healthy lifestyles that we want for others. ‘Art’ refers to how we approach our equipment: innovative in concept and elegantly designed.”
Innovation is very important to SportsArt, isn’t it?
“Yes. Whether you are a club owner or a fellow equipment supplier, new and unique products help attract and keep the attention of consumers. If you have something truly innovative, then it will create a demand in the market for itself. Also, our dedication to always improving and innovating helps us stand out from the competition.”
Speaking of standing out from the competition – SportsArt’s dedication to sustainability is another important aspect of the company, as expressed through our eco-friendly business practices and especially in our ECO-POWR™ cardio line. Why is being green so important to you?
“Years ago I watched a video on global warming that really resonated with me. It inspired me to think about how I – and my company – could give back to the environment. It is my hope that SportsArt does the same and leads the fitness industry as a symbol of sustainability and green practices.”
Well, the fitness industry – as well as others – is definitely embracing the sustainability movement nowadays! Many businesses are going green.
“Yes. That is why ECO-POWR™ can help so many fitness facilities. Imagine how many people who visit the gym each day could be working out on ECO-POWR™ equipment. Up to 70% of each user’s energy spent exercising would be converted into utility-grade electricity and fed back into the building’s power grid.
That means that every fitness club has the potential to become a mini power plant capable of creating clean power – enough to reduce the world’s carbon emissions and energy usage significantly.”
Agreed. It really is a collective effort, but one that can have a huge impact on the environment!
“That is SportsArt’s Vision: To promote healthy lifestyles and make the world a better place through the equipment we provide. We support our vision by delivering innovative products that are both durable and accessible, aiding in patient recovery with our rehabilitation equipment, and sustaining the vitality of the Earth with our ECO-POWR™ line.”
It is a vision that everyone has been passionate about from the very beginning. Speaking of which, SportsArt has over 40 years of experience in the fitness industry as of this year! What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned over the years?
“Respect and listen to what the market wants. Only then can you create a truly innovative product that people want. Also, listen to your colleagues and employees to determine which ones are the best leaders to help pave the way for your company to succeed. And of course, be passionate about your career and all that you do with it. Focus your entire life on accomplishing what you can and leave the rest to God.”
And what is your favorite thing about your job?
“My favorite thing about my job is that SportsArt helps improve people’s lives. One or two years ago, I received an email from a gentleman in the USA. He wanted to thank SportsArt for the ICARE because it helped him recover and learn how to walk again since his car accident.
In addition to that, knowing how our green cardio equipment motivates countless people – such as members of Sacramento Eco Fitness in California and members of Eco Gym in the UK – to get up and work out to better the environment. It makes them healthier both physically and mentally because their ability to give back to the planet is recognized.”
Thank you for your time, Paul. To wrap up, could you tell us where you see SportsArt in 10 years?
“I am unable to predict the future, but I am confident that SportsArt’s present innovations in both ECO-POWR™, SA WELL+™, and other unique patents will really speak to those of present and upcoming generations. We have also been further developing our medical products to meet the needs of active aging communities. Ultimately, SportsArt will continue to design fitness equipment that appeals to everyone. We aim to touch and improve as many lives as possible.”