Chicago, IL —What do HARPO Studios, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and countless other fitness enthusiasts all have in common? They all use the Muscle Kneader by Foam Motion Fitness. CEO Ken Eckhauser has built a company whose mission is simple: change lives. While many other companies have large staff and a huge amount of overhead, Eckhauser runs a company of one, selling, packaging, shipping and promoting the Muscle Kneader out of his office in Chicago, Illinois–truly the definition of a one-man show.
Eckhauser is a personal trainer by day and after working with his clients, he realized that the foam rollers he was using weren’t having the kind of effect he wanted. He wanted to create a product that was different from the run of the mill foam rollers on the market. So he devised a way you could take control of your massage, giving each person control of their workout and recovery.
“The first thing that popped into my head was wow this is pretty cool,” Eckhauser said of his first roller, “It’s basically a rolling pin of sorts but instead of baking, we are rolling out the muscle. What I thought of was how many more people could get the benefits from pain relief because it has handle grips. Users range in age from junior high up to senior citizens. Physical therapists, occupational therapist and athletes in track, football, lacrosse, marathon runners, weight lifters and the martial arts use the product. We have customers who were confined to using a walker and now use it less. What if somebody doesn’t have the mobility to get on the ground but can still experience the pain relief from it? Maybe they are pregnant, maybe they are recovering from an injury, or simply want something that is more versatile and portable. The market for the product had grown greatly.”
People in long term health-care facilities as well as traditional and pro athletes are quickly realizing the value of the Muscle Kneader. The spectrum of users has grown quickly and offers Eckhauser the opportunity to find a niche in the marketplace.
“I would like to take this and parlay it into a full time endeavor, but I am a small company competing with businesses that have significant resources and financial support. I am grateful because we have found success with organizations, such as Lutheran General Hospital, Roosevelt University, Stevenson University in Baltimore, Elements In Motion Pilates Studio, clinical massage therapists and more,” Eckhauser said, “Ideally, I want to keep the production of the product in the U.S. Other companies outsource because they have a short-term mindset when it comes to business, but if companies would work with a cooperative mindset, everyone could prosper. I understand that businesses want to get their products at the lowest cost, but if we work together cooperatively businesses could approach domestic distributors and manufacturers as a group and get the lowest cost and save money on shipping.
He continued, “I want to help create lifestyles, create jobs and help others get back on their feet. I’m looking for quality. You have to offer a quality product first. Ultimately, I would like it to become a staple product in the household. I find it’s a great product for couples. Everyone is tired from a long day of work and when your spouse says, can you give me a back massage, they cringe because it takes a lot of effort. But when you have the Muscle Kneader, you roll it up and down their back or legs and cut the time of the massage and its energy conservative. We even have clients who take their Muscle Kneader to work and use it to help with correcting their posture while seated. Applications for the device just continue to develop and that is part of the fun. Not only can the product be used for recovery, but it comes with a manual including innumerable exercises that can be performed. The only limit to the different number of uses is the users imagination.”
The idea for the Muscle Kneader came about when Eckhauser was working with a client. They were stretching and using the traditional foam rollers, which weren’t very functional. So Eckhauser started using his forearms, running it back and forth along the muscles and his clients loved it.
“I said, how can I reproduce that?” remembers Eckhauser, “I wanted to find a way to offer a consumer the best of both worlds. I did not go against the grain when designing the product. I merely made improvements so that more people could experience the benefits and pain relief. I wanted to create a device that was not only portable, but offered the user options. With the Muscle Kneader you get the foam roller and massage stick. The density of the foam is unlike anything that is currently on the market. Everything else is hard as wood, but this allows you to control the pressure. Ultimately we are trying to manipulate muscle tissue. It is a nonporous foam rubber, which will not absorb liquids making it easy to clean. Also, the foam provides some give which allows it to conform to the muscle but will not alter its shape after consistent use. Sometimes the rollers are too painful and if your muscles are contracting and not relaxing then you aren’t achieving the goals you want.”
But it’s not just making a name in the marketplace that Eckhauser is passionate about. It’s also his commitment to helping the armed forces and other charitable causes. The men and women in the military are constantly putting their bodies through punishment, i.e., boot camp, in the service, physical fitness and more; it’s always at the forefront of their daily routine. So Eckhauser came up with an idea that would allow him to give back to those who fight for our freedom.
That’s where TREND came about. The phrase means “To Remain Equal-Never Divided.” What started as a campaign to honor soldiers overseas in 2007 has become the driving force behind the business—a way to turn the word “trend” into a positive thing.
“The reason I started that is because my mother worked with Sharon Berry who lost her son, Lance Cpl. Thomas Keeling overseas. Thomas along with two Marines from Ohio, Cpl. Brad Squires and Cpl. Devon Seymour, went out and successfully rescued two Marines from a burning tank but when they were on their way back, they hit a land mine and they all died. When my mom told me that story, I grew very unhappy with how Americans were being ignored when expressing their discontent for family being overseas. Regardless of whether they agreed that they should or shouldn’t be there, I found that there needed to be an avenue for people to speak and show their support. The best way I found was through a T-shirt of some kind. I found that by wearing that T-shirt, it was giving them the opportunity to speak about a global issue or a national issue without having to say a word. Each shirt is individually numbered and, therefore, it’s one of a kind, increasing the wearers personal commitment. Just by wearing the shirt, people will know what you are supporting and you don’t have to say anything.”
To find out more about the Muscle Kneader and TREND, visit www.foammotionfitness.com.