Local strength training equipment maker scores sales to big US sports teams like LA Dodgers

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Athlete and hurdler Nick Bolton (left) and Jordan Barron who own strength training equipment maker Exerfly, based in Christchurch, have seen their sales “explode” overseas, especially with US sports teams.

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Athlete and hurdler Nick Bolton (left) and Jordan Barron who own strength training equipment maker Exerfly, based in Christchurch, have seen their sales “explode” overseas, especially with US sports teams.

Strength training equipment maker Exerfly’s overseas sales have “exploded” after an international launch “mid-pandemic” and it’s not looking back.

The Christchurch-based company made one of its first international sales in August last year to the 2020 World Series Major League Baseball champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The company, run by business partners Nick Bolton and Jordan Barron, has also sold to the United States professional basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, to the British Premier League football team Wolverhampton Wanderers, Canada’s Olympic ski team, and the British Paralympics Association, Barron said.

After launching the equipment internationally last year, sales in the US now formed half of sales, European and British sales 30 per cent, Asia 10 per cent and 10 per cent from the rest of the world which includes New Zealand, he said.

The company makes a portable Exerfly which comes as a kitset and can be set up in several ways and weighs 7.5 kilograms. It starts from NZ$3150. The portable has a sensor and runs by wi-fi, Barron said.

It also makes a platform, with a bench press, foot block, two ropes and a motor.

What gave it an edge over other flywheel training equipment was the sensor technology which allowed the athlete to connect with the trainer remotely and the trainer could see what the athlete was doing and where improvement was needed, Barron said.

Shot putter Jacko Gill uses the Exerfly for strength training.

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Shot putter Jacko Gill uses the Exerfly for strength training.

It is strength training using flywheel technology rather than traditional weights training.

Exerfly says the difference is that the athlete uses force to accelerate a flywheel and then to slow down the flywheel for constant resistance during training, constantly stimulating the muscles.

One of the other benefits is fewer injuries.

With traditional weights the resistance is felt when a weight is lifted but not on the way down, where the athlete misses out on the training in that “eccentric” phase.

From a few sales every few months when they started six years ago, Exerfly is now taking multiple orders a month.

“We are experiencing high growth because of being able to offer an all-in-one training solution, which is very cost-effective in a Covid world,” Barron said.

Americans, early adopters, had taken to the product, he said. The company was constantly talking to sports teams in the US about the equipment. The portable Exerfly folds down easily and could be used in isolation facilities and hotels when teams were travelling.

Belarusian tennis star Victoria Azarenka had recently ordered one.

Many of the overseas sales were coming from word of mouth.

“We try and help out as much as we can with pieces of equipment. I guess for us it’s to do with like building a community and starting a relationship, because we know as soon as someone has one they tell a lot of people. So that’s how we are selling a lot because we’ve been able to develop really strong relationships and help a lot of people in difficult situations.”

The business was selling online but not through retailers so could offer the equipment at a cheaper price also.

The equipment was originally a project for Christchurch hurdler Bolton who wanted to design a piece of training equipment that would keep him injury-free.

The portable Exerfly strength training equipment can be disassembled and carried in a bag. It weighs 7.5 kilograms.

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The portable Exerfly strength training equipment can be disassembled and carried in a bag. It weighs 7.5 kilograms.

Barron said all through the development the company has asked for feedback to improve the equipment.

It had been tested on scores of athletes like champion boxer Joseph Parker, shot putter Jacko Gill, and the country’s top sports teams, like the Crusaders, The Black Caps, Rowing NZ and Triathlon NZ.

As well the business had worked with the New Zealand Olympics team for several years, French decathlon champion Kevin Mayer and with Angus Ross of High Performance Sport New Zealand.

“We wanted to get to a stage where we had like a virtually unbreakable product so that when we went to market we wouldn’t have any problems because they’re really, really hard pieces of equipment to make,” Barron said.

“We tested it for five years, and we had really, good pieces of product, and we went to market and it sort of exploded due to people wanting an all-in-one training solution.”

Most of the parts were manufactured under contract in Christchurch, and assembled by Exerfly including the software, flywheels and electronics.

“We try to help people with their physical and mental health from an athlete’s perspective and from a household perspective as well,” Barron said.

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