Soloflex Fitness Changed America…Model Scott Madsen in Jail

The first infomercial
and the launch of a fitness craze,
started in the 80’s…. SOLOFLEX.

The ad made home fitness seem easy, and it made Soloflex a hit. In his book The Soloflex Story, An American Parable, Jerry  Wilson writes that the company went from losing money in 1986 to clearing $54 million in pre-tax profits in 1988; since then, he told me, the company has spent $175 million on cable television buys and sold about $1 billion worth of equipment.

Of course, most of those machines ended up as expensive towel racks: “The vast majority of people who bought them didn’t continue to use them,” Wilson told me. Even so, people kept ordering the machines, fueled by late-night dreams that they could have a body like the company’s shirtless, chest-hairless spokesmodel Scott Madsen.

Pretty Boy Madsen, a gymnast who was called “genetically perfect” in the Washington Post, eventually released a book of action photographs called the The Scott Madsen Poster Book . After nearly 20 years the Scott Madsen Poster Book is still one of  the best erotic photgraphy  book ever  published.

Madsen, who was straight, did not care for the attention of all of his male fans.

“I’ve been chased around the room by faggots.
                   Everyone’s trying to take you for a ride in the East.”
he once said. 

The 49-ish year old hottie-has-been was living  in Vancouver, Washington. In  March 2010,  Madsen was sentenced to 2 years in a Federal prison  for stealing from his former employer. Much more than simple theft from a former employer. Three years of deception, stealing from his uncle’s small business. Scott netted about $80,000 per year in fraudulent receipts. $250,000  later – he was caught.

Back to Soloflex, Madsen helped the company STRIKE RICH! After a couple years of struggling with sales, Wilson hired Madsen to ne his poster boy.  SALES FLEW THROUGH THE ROOF.  Wilson became a rich man.

A host of imitators soon appeared, parroting Soloflex’s marketing and iconography. “It is a bit grating when people say to me, ‘Hey, you’re the Bowflex  guy, aren’t you?’ ” he writes. Wilson made a pastime of suing these companies, and the lawsuits made him still richer. (Bowflex settled with Wilson for $8 million; NordicTrack settled for $18.5 million and soon thereafter filed for bankruptcy.)

Soloflex was once $495 – and  is now  $1250  these days. In recent years, Soloflex has been eclipsed in popularity by other, more au courant devices that loudly tout their new fitness innovations and bargain-basement prices. Wilson wrote that he could’ve moved production of the Soloflex to China, allowing him to build a cheaper exercise machine to compete with his lower-cost rivals. The Soloflex inventor explained, however, that he would “rather quit business than ship jobs offshore.”

The result, he wrote: “Soloflex is still here, albeit much smaller. That’s fine with me.”