Fitness Industry Pioneer Augie Nieto Exercises Again After 8 Years with Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Schiller Park, Ill. – April 9, 2013Driven by fierce determination, fitness industry pioneer Augie Nieto, who was diagnosed in 2005 with Lou Gehrig’s disease, is working out again – even though he uses a wheelchair, relies on a breathing machine and is unable to speak. Witness this inspiring experience at augiesxride.

The chairman of the board of Octane Fitness, LLC since 2005, Nieto, 55, is the founder of Life Fitness, a global fitness equipment company that he sold to Brunswick Corporation in 1997.

Since his diagnosis, which has a typical life expectancy of three to five years, Nieto founded Augie’s Quest, a nonprofit foundation that is part of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), to raise money for ALS treatment research with the goal of finding a cure. To date, Augie’s Quest has generated $37 million, and Nieto and his wife, Lynne, serve as co-chairs of MDA’s ALS Division. In this time, Nieto also has written two books:  Augie’s Quest and Reciprocity.

"Augie's ambitions have always been truly limitless, from the first days of the original Lifecyle to the day he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease," said Chris Clawson, president of Life Fitness. "It was after his diagnosis that the most spectacular Augie came to be, and we're proud to support him in this moment."

Never Say Never

In 2007, Nieto asked Octane Fitness for a special motorized xRide seated elliptical as a way to maintain his cardiovascular fitness. But as Nieto’s condition worsened, he was unable to ride after six months, so the machine was disassembled at his request. 

However, Nieto’s personal fight against this paralyzing, fatal disease has been fueled by a bold refusal to quit, tremendous support from his family and friends and multiple treatment regimens. In 2012, he began training on a custom-made Life Fitness leg press machine and now performs three sets of 20 reps at 120 pounds every other day.

Octane went back to work as Nieto requested another custom xRide, which features a motor to move the leg and arm pedals to get him started. But Nieto can overpower the motor and drive the pedals himself, which he demonstrated during a 20-minute workout on March 20 in front of a large, emotional crowd at Octane’s exhibit booth at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) Annual Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas.

“We have benefitted so much as a company and personally from Augie’s leadership and friendship,” said Tim Porth, executive vice president of product development and marketing at Octane Fitness. “Obviously, we are passionate about helping him recover and will do whatever it takes.”

With the leg press and xRide now at Nieto’s home in California, his current mission is to exercise regularly in order to walk at the 2014 IHRSA show March 12-15 at the San Diego Convention Center.

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Octane Fitness BackgroundRelentlessly fueled to reinvent low-impact cardiovascular exercise, Octane Fitness has reimagined the elliptical cross trainer, introduced a new category with the xRide seated elliptical, designed strength-infused cardio with the unique CROSS CiRCUIT and now leads exercise in an entirely new direction with the LateralX. Defined by standout innovations, and driven to deliver more effective, efficient and rewarding workouts, Octane is engineering elliptical domination.

About Life Fitness

Life Fitness is the global leader in commercial fitness equipment manufacturing. The company manufactures and sells strength and cardiovascular equipment under the brand names Life Fitness and Hammer Strength and distributes its equipment in more than 120 countries. Headquartered outside Chicago, in Schiller Park, Ill., Life Fitness is a division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC).

Augie’s Quest

Augie’s Quest, MDA’s ALS research initiative, is an aggressive, cure-driven effort singularly focused on finding treatments and cures for ALS. The devastating disease affects more than 30,000 Americans. Fitness pioneer Augie Nieto started Augie's Quest in conjunction with MDA's ALS Division.