If you have ever found yourself in a new gym, paralyzed with fear and confusion in a landscape of sleek weight-lifting machines that look as if they might require an advanced degree in aeronautics to operate, then you can thank Arthur Jones. Mr. Jones, who died last Aug. 28 at age 80, invented Nautilus exercise equipment, which helped to spur the modern exercise revolution and the rise of the gym in American life. Mr. Jones’ greatest expression of brilliance, however, may have been in his ability to promote his inventions and himself. “He was so memorable, and he was so bright, very verbal and also combative,” said Terry Todd, a former champion weight lifter and now director of the Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports at the University of Texas at Austin. “He had the ability to energize people and to create an aura around these Nautilus machines.” Mr. Jones managed to get the machines into the weight rooms of several professional sports teams, which suddenly made them de rigueur for all sports teams, not to mention upscale health clubs. “You could say to other teams, “Oh, you know the Dolphins are training on this Nautilus and – my God – they’re making great gains and the stuff is really cutting edge’ and this and that, and you could create a kind of frenzy,” Mr. Todd said.
The New York Times
The Rise of the Machines