Depending upon what type of fitness equipment you are talking about, the Nautilus brand means many things to many different users. To the home user Nautilus is a publically held fitness conglomerate that owns and produces the Nautilus, Bowflex and Schwinn residential/institution product lines.
To the commercial user, Nautilus, once a Nautilus Inc. brand is now a privately owned brand of MedFit Systems Inc. organization based in California. In 20?? Med-Fit Systems Inc. acquired the production and patent rights for the full commercial Nautilus line of products. The full commercial line includes the Nautilus cardio as well the popular strength lines of Nitro, Nitro Plus, One, xPLoad, and Free Weights.
The name Nautilus was created to describe a type of exercise equipment characterized by circular, nautically shaped spiral pulleys (or the shape of the sea animal that bears the same name). The cams, as these pulleys are called, were designed to vary the resistance throughout the exercise.
While the Nautilus Corporation once focused exclusively on resistance training machines, future equipment lines added aerobic exercise equipment.
Arthur Allen Jones (November 22, 1926 – August 28, 2007) was the founder of Nautilus, Inc. and MedX, Inc. as well as the inventor of the Nautilus exercise machines, including the Nautilus Pullover, first sold in 1970. The industry pioneer and innovator was born in Arkansas, grew up in Seminole, Oklahoma and contributed tremendously to research on biomechanics of countless strength products. While not affiliated directly with Jones, the basis for the popular Bowflex trainer with its "power rod" bending technology is in part due to incorporation of variable resistance; Jones stressed many years earlier.
Jones' ideas helped move the public's notion of bodybuilding and strength-training exercise away from the Arnold Schwarzenegger school of training, which involved hours in the gym using free weights, to High Intensity Training. This involves short, single sets with maximum intensity, which it was thought would trigger maximal muscular growth. Dr. Michael O'Shea put Nautilus equipment on the map in 1975, when he opened the Sports Training Institute in New York City. The gym, which only used Nautilus equipment, catered to athletes such as Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe.
Over the years Nautilus (the brand) has become consistently been one of the major players for high quality fitness equipment however only the Nautilus commercial brand still maintained production in the US up until recently when MedFit attemped to the sell them and closed down the main production facility in Independence, Virginia. MedFit Systems Inc. is currently looking for a buyer to maintain and reestablish the production of commercial lines. I think most would agree that is important to maintain the pedigree and quality of such a well know American brand. As for the Nautilus Inc group they continue to product hundreds of products yearly and have distribution in almost all corners of the globe and has grown to now incorporates the Trimline, Bowflex, Schwinn, Universal and Stairmaster home brands.