In my estimation, Steve Jobs did more than invent cool products. Jobs’ genius lies in the fact that he fundamentally transformed six separate industries:
The Mac transformed personal computing.
Pixar and Next altered animation.
The iPod forever changed how we consume music.
The iPhone was a reimagining of how we use our phone.
The iPad popularized tablet computing.
iTunes revolutionized digital publishing.
Jobs has nearly a perfect parallel in the field of exercise. They were strikingly similar in their genius, eccentricity, and perhaps even their temperament. But more specifically, similar in how they fundamentally changed multiple industries.
In 1971, Arthur Jones invented the Nautilus Pullover machine and launched Nautilus Sports Medical Industries. From 1971 until his death in 2007, Jones fundamentally changed five industries (or at least, five subindustries).
First, Arthur Jones created the exercise equipment industry. Prior to Jones’ Nautilus machines, fitness enthusiasts trained only with barbells and the occasional Universal station (if you are over 45, chances are your high school had one of these crude, multi-station units). Jones applied the science of biomechanics to design exercise equipment that produced greater results in less time, all while reducing our injury risk. By the early 1980’s, every professional sports franchise, health club, and rec center featured Jones’ Nautilus machines.
Next, Jones published books and articles and conducted research that transformed our understanding of exercise methodology. Jones encouraged us to workout less, but workout harder in his discovery that two weekly strength training workouts produced optimal results and that performing one set to muscle failure was the primary stimulus for the myriad of benefits stimulated by strength training. Additionally, Jones’ methodology suggested that exercise ought to be safe and he educated around the avoidance of Olympic weight lifting, power cleans, kettlebell swings, and other haphazard strength training proven to be injurious to our joints and connective tissues.
Third, Jones has been credited with spawning the modern health club industry. In the late 1960’s, the average man or woman didn’t frequent a gym to engage in any type of exercise. Jones’ machines contributed to the emerging racquet sports trend and created viable businesses; no longer dank gyms with body builders, but health clubs that included up to one hundred Nautilus machines along with racquet sports, pools, and other amenities. In the mid-1980’s, virtually every club in the US had the name Nautilus in it (Jones never licensed the name, he let anyone who bought equipment use it).
Fourth (and thankfully to those of us at Discover Strength), Jones is responsible for the advent of personal training. He wisely stated, and I paraphrase, “Does everyone need a personal trainer to get the most out of their strength workout? No… If you have no problem taking a mallet to your hand repeatedly, then you likely don’t need a trainer.” Arthur had a way with words.
Fifth and maybe most important, in 1986 Jones sold Nautilus and used his fortune and focus to develop medical testing and rehabilitation tools with the creation of the MedX Corporation. Jones’ hallmark contribution to the field of rehabilitation was his “Medical Lumbar Extension Machine” used to treat low back pain all over the world. To this day, more scientific research has been published on this machine than any other single mode of lower back rehabilitation.
The health club you go to, the workout you perform, the equipment you train on, the trainer you train with, and perhaps even the rehab you have received can be traced back to the brilliance of Arthur Jones. A man with an 8th grade education but a genius level intellect with an insatiable passion for solving problems. Fitness celebrities come and go, but the impact of Arthur Jones persists.