Tom Campanaro, CEO of efi Sports Medicine
When a motorcycle accident sidelined efi Sports Medicine President and CEO Tom Campanaro in the summer of 1964, the injured football player was told that he would never have made it without his muscular strength, which ultimately helped him withstand the impact. That precipitated Campanaro's interest in, and switch to bodybuilding, in which he proceeded to compete for the next seven years.
Still compelled by his interest in fitness, Campanaro became a self-taught student of exercise equipment and methods, tinkering in his garage to find or make various objects with which to weight train. Also learning from his trainer, who was influenced by the natural look of classic Roman sculpture, Campanaro began to appreciate quality, not quantity.
By the early 1970s, Campanaro had risen to regional and national competition. However, a steady increase in steroid use among professional bodybuilders disillusioned Campanaro, and he soon bowed out of the sport.
In 1974, Campanaro went to work with DynaGym, an exercise equipment company that produced a low-end version of a gravity training device that used an individual's body weight as resistance. In hopes of improving on the machine, Campanaro founded the Total Gym Company with partners Dale McMurray and Doug Marino in 1974. Larry Westfall joined the team within the year. They developed Total Gym®, a high-quality version of a machine that encouraged the use of multiple muscle groups together in each exercise-now referred to as "functional training exercises."
As Campanaro and his partners tirelessly showcased the benefits of Total Gym far and wide, the company grew. "We were able to demonstrate the product's benefits," Campanaro says, "and we stayed in touch with our customers, addressing the concerns of whatever audience we faced. Whether they were dentists, physical therapists, doctors, athletes or college students, we could show them the payoff for using this product."
1987 brought a shift in Total Gym's market when the company discovered a significant number of sales were to physical therapists, who had realized the benefits of functional exercise. Keeping in step with this burgeoning market, the company changed its name to a more accurate and comprehensive title: Engineering Fitness International Corporation, d.b.a. efi Sports Medicine®. After years of touting the benefits of exercise on Total Gym, the rehab community finally caught on to the idea of functionality — "We'd been there the whole time," Campanaro says.
Infomercials, the darling of direct response TV, were Campanaro's next coup. After being wooed by eight companies, Campanaro signed a licensing agreement with American Telecast, and today, over a billion dollars worth of Total Gyms have been sold through the infomercial and retail stores in over 85 countries.
Complacency never sets in, Campanaro says. "We're continuously enhancing the products to ensure we're bringing value to our customer's lives."
These days, Campanaro, who is originally from Philadelphia, continues to work out with Total Gym at his own home and devote time to his family which includes a daughter and a son, both in their mid-twenties, and a pair of Jack Russell Terriers who have become unofficial company mascots. Joy Campanaro works alongside husband Tom in the business, overseeing the company's marketing and design departments.
The company continues its efforts in the rehabilitation community, while directing new focus to the health club industry and the 50+ age group. "These are big challenges, but with proven, quality technologies that are effective, safe and easy to use, we know we can develop the right products to meet industry needs," says Campanaro.