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StairMaster logo

StairMaster is a US company specializing in the design and production of fitness equipment for commercial, light commercial, and home use. They sell cardiovascular and strength equipment such as stair climbing machines, TreadClimber cardio machines and dumbbell sets.


StairMaster was founded by Lanny Potts, Jim Walker, and George Schupp and launched by Tri-Tech, Inc of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1983 at the National Sporting Goods Association trade show. The first piece of equipment, StairMaster 5000, was a rotating staircase machine. In March 1984 the StairMaster 5000 was replaced with the StairMaster 6000 ergometer. Mechanically the StairMaster 6000 was virtually identical to its predecessor, but the 6000 displayed workout information on a CRT, printed a workout summary on a thermal printer, and included a heart rate monitor.

In February 1986 the StairMaster 4000PT was launched at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) convention in Nashville, TN. The StairMaster 4000PT provided two pedals with independent motion to simulate stair climbing. The immense popularity of the StairMaster 4000PT soon overshadowed that of the rotating staircase machines and defined the future of stair climbers, at least for the next decade.[citation needed] Updates of this machine appeared in 1998, 2005 and in 2011, the StairClimber 5 was released.

In 1987 the Gravitron was launched. This was an assisted chin and dip machine inspired by a dream Lanny had of working out on the moon where, in reduced gravity, almost everyone could do chins and dips. The original Gravitron used a compressor, accumulator, and pneumatic cylinder to provide programmable assistance to an exerciser. The pneumatic Gravitron proved a little too complex to maintain for the typical health club and was later replaced with the Gravitron 2000 AT, a weight-stack version. Over 25 years later, assisted chin and dip machines are common pieces of equipment in commercial gyms.

In 1988 the Gauntlet was introduced. The Gauntlet was a rotating staircase like the StairMaster 6,000 but used an innovative alternator-based braking system to bring electronic speed control to the product. In the 1990s a variety of new cardio technologies were introduced and the popularity of stair climbing leveled. After 10 to 12 years passed, people realized the immense benefits of stair climbing compared to other cardio options. During this same time period, the company continued to improve and innovate on their stair climbing machine. The Gauntlet eventually became known as the StepMill in 2005. In 2011 the latest version, the StepMill 5, was released at IHRSA in Los Angeles, CA with technology of a touch screen console, iPod connectivity and high definition television.

Product Timeline[edit]

1983 – StairMaster 5000
1984 – StairMaster 6000
1988 – Gauntlet
1991 – StepMill 7000PT
2008 – StepMill 916 (SM916)
2011 – StepMill 5 (SM5)
2012 – StepMill 3 (SM3)

1986 – StairMaster 4000 PT
1998 – StairMaster 4400 PT & CL
1999 - StairMaster 4600 PT & CL
2008 – StairClimber 916 (SC916)
2011 – StairClimber 5 (SC5)

1989 – Gravitron 8000
1997 – Gravitron 2000 AT

Additional Products
2011 – TwistLock Dumbbells
2013 – TreadClimber


The company went through a series of ownership changes from 1988 to 2010. The company was finally acquired in December 2010 by Core Health and Fitness. StairMaster's corporate headquarters are in Vancouver WA.

1983 - Tri Tech
1987 – Randall Sports/Medical Products
1992 – StairMaster Sports/Medical Product
1996 – Garden Way Inc. (Troy Built )
1997 – Rutledge Partners II, LP
2002 – Direct Focus/Nautilus
2010 – Core Health and Fitness

External links[edit]