Arthur Jones, Nautilus inventor, passes away
on Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

  • Arthur Jones, the inventor or the Nautilus system of exercise equipment, died Tuesday at his home in Ocala. He was 80. Greg Webb, a Nautilus Inc. vice president called Jones, "The founder of modern-day exercise." Here are some notes and comments from the Getbig boards on Arthur Jones. Rest in Peace.

  • You guys don't know who Arthur Jones is..... He is the founder of Nautilus (exercise equipment) and is the person who came up with the idea of intensity over long workouts. He had a facility in Colorado that they would train people (Casey Viator - youngest Mr. America ever, 3rd place, Mr. O) and Mike Mentzer (2nd place Mr. Olympia, only perfect score as a heavyweight at a Mr. Universe contest). These guys would do these high intensity workouts 3x/week, 20 minutes, 30 minutes tops. In 12 weeks, they would go from out of shape to contest ready. From this point, it died down a bit, until Yates resurrected it. Then, everyone followed it again. Now Mark Dugdale is leading the group of high-intensity, low volume trainers. So, Arthur Jones was a revolutionary mind in the sport of bodybuilding....if he didn't come along, we'd all still be training 6 days/week, 2-3 hours/day.

  • Arthur Jones is probably the only genius ever involved in the Iron Game. He revolutionized hypertrophy theory and professional gym equipment. His influence has been major and I doubt we will see a character like him again. I spoke with him on the phone in 1994 re my biceps-supination machine. He had a good sense of humour and was very interesting to speak with. I have nothing but respect for Arthur as an thinker, writer, inventor, trainer and all round interesting guy. Few of us ever approach living a life as rich as Arthur did.

  • Gary Jones is Arthur Jones's son, and Gary Jones is the founder of Hammer machine? Wow!

  • He would have been 81 in November. He always wanted to raise the largest crocodile and gorillas. He even let one of the apes train on his Nautilis machines, it is in one of his high intensity bodybuilding books.

  • He always carried a gun. And legend has it that when Jones found out that one of the bodybuilders living and training at his facility were selling to his son, Jones had the man held, while he pistol-whipped him senseless.

  • I've read several articles by Arthur Jones, he was very intelligent and a man ahead of his time.

  • Arthur Jones, the inventor of Nautilus exercise equipment, died Tuesday. He was 80. Jones had been ill for several days but was kept at home, per his wishes, said his son, William Edgar Jones. He died of natural causes, according to his son, who was by his father's side when he passed, along with a longtime friend and a nurse. "He should be remembered as a man of extreme intelligence, extreme independence and probably one of the most unrecognized and unawarded inventors that ever existed," William Edgar Jones told The Associated Press.

    His father was particularly proud of his latest invention — exercise machines used for rehabilitation purposes by people with spinal cord injuries and back pain, Jones said. Nautilus came along in 1970 and introduced machines that offered a more-targeted approach to strength training, changing the idea of the workout. The machines became ubiquitous — former President Ronald Reagan was even said to use Nautilus equipment in the White House when he was rehabilitating from his gunshot wound.

    "Arthur Jones was the founder of modern-day exercise," Greg Webb, a Nautilus Inc. vice president of product development, said in a statement. "He had an incredible ability to create the interface between man and machine by incorporating biomechanics into exercise equipment." The success of the machines also made Jones wealthy. He bought property in Ocala and started what has become the exclusive "fly-in" community of Jumbolair Aviation Estates, now most famously the home of John Travolta. Besides his son, Arthur Jones is survived by two daughters.

  • Arthur A. Jones, inventor of the Nautilus exercise equipment and founder of the Jumbolair estate in Anthony, died at about 4:40 a.m. today at his Ocala home. Jones was 80. His son, William, said he died of natural causes. Jones was born in Arkansas and grew up in Oklahoma, according to a news release from MedX Corp., a fitness company he founded. He was a pilot, animal importer and filmmaker. In 1970, he introduced Nautilus equipment, "the first of its kind marketed to utilize the principle of variable resistance to develop muscles and build strength," according to MedX.

    In the mid-1980s at Jumbolair, he would fly in 63 baby elephants from Zimbabwe using a Boeing 707, keep a gorilla and house many alligators, crocodiles and rattlesnakes. The Nautilus invention made Jones a wealthy man. He sold the company in 1986 and founded MedX - which focused on spinal rehabilitation - the next year. He sold MedX in 1996. Terri Jones-Thayer - now co-owner of Jumbolair Aviation Estates with her husband, Jeremy - credited her own business and personal accomplishments to Jones, whom she married at 18. They remained married until Jones-Thayer was 27. Although they divorced in the 1980s, Jones-Thayer remained close to her ex-husband, she said.

    Flying lessons became life lessons, she said. "He taught me to fly, and every time I'd want to quit and give up, he was always behind me, saying, 'Don't quit, you can do this.' I'm so glad he believed in me, even when I didn't." Jones was a natural gambler in business, she said. "He took risks. He would throw it all on the table. He always told me if you've got a dream go out there and do it." Despite the millions he earned from the Nautilus and MedX companies he founded, "Money never meant anything to him," Jones-Thayer said. "He said money was a tool to make dreams come true. I think he accomplished all his dreams. " ?I hope that Arthur Jones' contributions in the fields of fitness, sports medicine, exercise physiology and orthopedic rehabilitation will be recognized and appreciated," said MedX executive Jim Flanagan, who worked with Jones from 1971 to 1996.

  • From a book excert. No one person had greater impact on fitness training than Arthur Jones. He challenged and changed the attitudes of millions of people throughout the world. Beginning, in the 1970’s with the invention of Nautilus Exercise Machines. Even his critics grudgingly give him credit for sparking a renaissance in the design of exercise equipment and exercise concepts. Before, the invention of Nautilus equipment, the standard form of progressive resistance training was the barbell. Barbells remain the most popular form of exercise throughout the world. Primarily because of its low cost, the great variety of exercises it adapts to, and its durability. It has enjoyed widespread popularity for more than a hundred years.

    Arthur Jones has often stated that Nautilus equipment is "nothing more than an improved barbell” An understatement, if I ever heard one. Comparing a barbell to Nautilus equipment is like comparing an abacus to a computer. Credited by many as being a mechanical genius, Jones's quest to improve his personal fitness levels led to his analyzing the shortcomings of barbell training. " Self-evident truth" gleaned from years of exercising with barbells led him to believe at least one major flaw existed with barbell training. He believes barbells do not supply the basic requirement for exercise, resistance, throughout a full-range-of motion.

    Because of this fact, many exercises performed with a barbell are virtually wasted motion, in that barbells exercise a muscle only during some of the movement rather than through the complete movement. Even if resistance is supplied in a full range of the movement, because the resistance does not vary in relationship to the varying strength of the contracting muscle tissue. It was evident to Arthur Jones that "if you are working a muscle through only part of the movement, you are not working it during other parts of the movement” Arthur Jones set about designing a machine that would "supply resistance, throughout a complete range of motion. “ A victory achieved in 1948 when he designed a prototype of the first Nautilus machines.

    A curl machine that exercised the biceps of the upper arm was installed in the Y.M.C.A in Tulsa, Oklahoma Other interests then caused Mr. Jones to concentrate his energies elsewhere. For two decades he pursued his interest in flying and capturing and exporting wild animals from areas of Mexico and Africa. An article in the April 21, 1975, issue of Sports Illustrated magazine summed up his exploits: "Behind his disguise as Mr. Middle Age, Jones is an adventurer, airplane pilot, one time mercenary, movie maker, and inventor.

    He has been bitten by (1) rattlesnakes, (2) lions, (3) men and other dangerous critters. He has married four times, been near death even more often and figures that there is hardly a country he has not visited-at least on a bombing run." "Legend has it that Arthur Jones was marking time in Lake Helen, Florida, awaiting word on some equipment and belongings that were confiscated (Jones called it theft) by the government of Rhodesia because of a difference of opinion about his actions while he was there. While trying to reclaim his roughly $ 2 million worth of airplanes, a helicopter, and motion picture equipment via "proper" channels he began to tinker with other prototypes.

    The time was right; there were too many hours for a curious mind to lay idle. Self-imposed stress is a way of life for Arthur Jones. Prototype after prototype began to pile up, as one improvement after another upgraded the basic concept. Working with friends and cronies, using each other as guinea pigs, they made an assault on building larger muscles and improving strength. Many who contributed time, effort, and talent during this period have never received full credit for their contribution. They are the unsung heroes forgotten by time. Therefore, it is in many instances: the contributions of many become less known than those few who get the credit.

    Finally, after many false starts, a finished product emerged. The Nautilus pullover--torso model. Dubbed "the Blue Monster.” First unveiled at a weight lifting meet in Los Angeles. Bodybuilders and weightlifters are notoriously slow to adapt to change. Yet, the impact of the machine was immediate. Enough curious, rational people attended that first showing to sow the seeds for a soon-to-be cult of Nautilus converts.Among the first intellectual bodybuilders to grasp the significance of this new tool, was Ellington Darden. A young, blond, good-natured bodybuilder, known for his broad shoulders and for his exceptional chest expansion.

    Many of you know him as Dr. Ellington Darden, author of some 45 books and former Director of Research for Nautilus/Sports Medical Industries. Dr. Darden refined and redirected the basic fitness concepts of Arthur Jones and made them acceptable to the public. As a handful of rational-thinking individuals began to ally them with Arthur Jones and his invention, critics sprang to the attack. Bodybuilders, the most gullible of exercise fanatics, were slow to adapt Nautilus equipment or exercise concepts to their training regimen. They were methodically brainwashed by publishers of "muscle mags” to avoid any use of this new equipment.

    Muscle & Fitness Magazine publisher, Joe Weider, began a series of articles supposedly authored by the "top" bodybuilders of that time. In these articles, the “stars" rapped with Mr. Weider. Each one explained his view of Nautilus. Vince Gironda, the iron guru, was quoted: “The basic technical concept is erroneous; is far too costly for what little it can do; and. . . Its appearance alone turns many persons away-frightens and confuses them." Obviously, Mr. Gironda felt that the bodybuilders of that time were a group of intellectual and emotional wimps, and could be frightened and confused by looking at a machine. Luckily, the intellectual level of the 1980's bodybuilder has improved, and they can "comprehend" the value of Nautilus.

    Frank Zane supposedly said, "These Nautilus machines are mainly a gimmick. I actually dislocated my right shoulder." Mr. Zane evidently changed his mind and is shown using Nautilus equipment in his present training, it is alleged that he has purchased several machines for his in-home use. Ken Waller, a Mr. Olympia competitor: "I lost about three-quarters of an inch from my arms!" Roger Callard said: "Everyone I know who used these machines extensively became smooth” Present day bodybuilders know that becoming "smooth" generally reflects excess eating in proportion to energy expenditure.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, everybody's Mr. Olympia and star of the movie, The Terminator (and others), and presently the Governor of California, did his best to discredit Nautilus. He said: "I don't feel that the Nautilus machines even come close to training with the standard barbell, dumbbells and pulley equipment It is my honest opinion there is no comparison at all." It is important to note that Mr. Schwarzenegger, in a letter printed in the February 1971, issue of Iron Man magazine quotes him as saying: "Mr. Jones just read me your letter which you wrote to him complaining about the facts he published regarding his new machines and training methods, and I laughed about your complaints because they don't make sense.”

    “That’s the best advice I can give you is: visit Mr. Jones and try his machines yourself. Because that's the way I did it I gained four pounds and increased my arm size in the first three days of training on the new equipment, and I am making immediate arrangements with Mr. Jones to obtain several of his machines for my use in California. If this is not my true opinion, then I will give up all of the titles I have won in the past I really believe that the new machines are fantastic. Otherwise, I would not write this.” The letter was signed: Arnold Schwarzenegger, five times Mr. Universe, Mr. World Mr. Olympia Check it out yourself in the issue of Iron Man Magazine mentioned above.

    During the early 1970's, many of the country's best-built men journeyed to DeLand Florida, to investigate Nautilus equipment. Most, unfortunately, did not comprehend either the machines or the exercise concepts. Those concepts were a radical departure from the standard exercise programs of that time. At the time, almost everyone connected with progressive exercise was training for several hours per day and at least three days per week. Arthur Jones was recommending less than two hours PER WEEK.

    He defined many of the common problems shared by trainees in his classic books: Nautilus Training Principles, Bulletin #1 and Bulletin #2. After logically defining the problems, he went one-step beyond; he offered sophisticated training methods, which he claimed would benefit everyone. Nautilus Bulletin # 1, Chapter 2, "Basic Physics of Conventional Exercise Methods" clearly explained the fundamental problem encountered in using conventional barbells: “Almost all conventional exercises are based upon resistance provided by gravity.

    Such resistance is unidirectional This limitation in direction of resistance is probably the greatest limiting factor affecting most exercises since it thus becomes impossible to involve more than a small percentage of the total number of fibers contained in a particular muscular structure." He continued: "While the resistance is provided in only one direction, the involved body parts are rotating; in effect, you are trying to oppose a rotational form of movement with a reciprocal form of resistance, while proceeding in a straight line." It was that one basic fact that led to the invention and design of Nautilus. "Function dictates design" was a basic precept of the inventor's goals.