SFIA Member Spotlight – Iron Grip

Being the largest manufacturer, Iron Grip opens up about their specialty in free weights.
Member: Iron Grip
Spotlight On:

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Michael Rojas, CEO of Iron Grip
What is Iron Grip?

Rojas: Iron Grip is a manufacturer of commercial free weights.  We are largest manufacturer of commercial free weights in the industry.

When were you founded?

Rojas: Iron Grip was founded in 1993.

How many different products does Iron Grip manufacture?

Rojas: Iron Grip manufactures dumbbells, fixed barbells, Olympic plates and Olympic bars under the Iron Grip® brand. Iron Grip also manufactures group exercise equipment under the Group Strength® brand.

What is unique about Iron Grip’s products?

Rojas: Everything in the Iron Grip brand is manufactured in the US, by us, in our own factories. We are the only company that makes a complete line of free weights in the US.

Can you tell us a little more about your integrated handgrips and unique 12-sided design? How did you come up with this innovative idea?

Rojas: Like most good innovations, the best ideas are the simplest ones.  When we started Iron Grip all weight plates were essentially solid round iron discs, typically with one flat side and one side with a raised flange, or lip.  That was the state of the art at the time, and this design had remained essentially unchanged since the early 1930’s, when York Barbell, widely regarded as the first fitness equipment company, was founded.  Putting integrated handgrips in plates was a simple innovation that made weights infinitely safer and easier to use, and more accessible to a wider gym population. Now nearly every weight plate sold (other than bumpers) has integrated handgrips. We also decided to improve the safety of plates further by adding a geometric shape, namely a 12-side anti-roll design. This innovation was carried through to our dumbbells as well. Since then we pioneered the use of urethane, which every manufacturer now offers, and we pioneered the engraving process to brand and customize equipment.

What stores are your products in?

Rojas: We only manufacture commercial equipment, so our products are not sold in stores.

What makes the Iron Grip brand authentic?

Rojas: We have been at the forefront of innovation since our founding, and have always manufactured our equipment here. We’ve also always manufactured just heavily engineered premium commercial free weight equipment, no retail equipment, no cardio equipment, no selectorized strength equipment, and no light duty accessories. We strongly believe is specialization and being experts in our field. We also strongly believe in quality and have been true to this credo for 25 years.

What overall trends are you seeing in the market?

Rojas: The market for free weights has been steadily growing over the last few years, propelled by the now widely-acknowledged and well-regarded benefits of strength training (vs. just cardio training). More specifically the growth in free weight usage has been propelled by the increased popularity of personal training, functional training, high intensity training and now small group training. Free weight usage features prominently in all of these training protocols.

Are you planning on releasing new products in the market?

Rojas: We continually review the market and our existing line to explore what new innovations the industry is looking for, and we add new products or improve our products and processes to respond to market needs.

Do you have any partnerships?

Rojas: We have many partnerships with a wide variety of companies in all channels, including the health club market, athletics, the military, non-profits, hospitality and residential.

Can you offer any client testimonials of what people are saying about Iron Grip?
“When we first began purchasing Iron Grip free weights, our focus was on the quality of the equipment—the dependability and longevity of the materials and construction, and the user-friendly safety features built into the design. But after working with Iron Grip for the last several years, what we have come to value most is their team’s responsiveness, attention to detail, and reliability. Iron Grip excels on all levels, which makes them one of the best companies we work with. That’s why we purchase our free weights exclusively from Iron Grip.” – Pat Regan, Senior Director of Purchasing for Life Time Fitness
“It’s nice to know that one thing I can always count on is my Iron Grip equipment! In particular, my urethane dumbbells never need repair, or replacement, or refurbishment. They outlast the competition and still look great. To me, it’s money saved in the long run because I don’t have to worry about upkeep, and it frees me to focus on other areas. I’ve been running gyms for over two decades, and in that time I’ve worked with a good number of suppliers. Iron Grip has always been one of our most reliable partners.”
– Sbastyen Jackovics, Fitness SF
“I just wanted to let you know that I really like the new Iron grip needle bearing bars that we purchased this summer. I have been used several bars for my own training over the years and I am very satisfied with this bar. I have access to UesakaPendlayEleiko, and Werksan in my gym, and I choose to train with the Iron Grip bar. The spin and whip are perfect for the Olympic lifts, and the knurling provides excellent grip. Since July and the arrival of the new bars I have added another two kilograms to my snatch and 5 kilograms to my hang clean. At 42, every kilogram counts! I credit this to having an excellent bar to train with. I will keep you updated on my progress.” – Garret Taylor, Head Powerlifting Coach, Alvin High School
 
“Now that the Strength & Conditioning staff has had some time to incorporate Iron Grip XL Handle dumbbells into our workouts, I wanted to send you our feedback. We’ve found that this unique grip training modality boosts the absolute strength and strength endurance of our student-athletes, while challenging their development in the three basic functions of a strong grip: Pinching Strength, Crushing Strength, and Supporting Strength. For the past six months, we’ve used a hand dynamometer to test and compare the change from our old 1.25-inch diameter dumbbell handle to our new 1.75-inch Iron Grip XL Handle. Our evaluations have shown a minimum gain of 10% in grip strength among our Men’s Basketball Team. “Switch On Your Grip” with Iron Grip XL Handle Dumbbells!” – Matt Jennings, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach of Xavier University 
Where do you see Iron Grip in 5 years?

Rojas: We expect the growth in free weight demand to continue and very likely accelerate, and we will expand capacity to meet that demand. We will be a far larger company in 5 years.

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