IDAHO FALLS — It started with a problem. Ethan and Kinsee Abbott were poor newlywed college students, and Ethan wanted a place to work out.
They couldn’t afford a gym membership, and there was little space in their small apartment for exercise equipment.
So Ethan, a Rigby High School and BYU graduate, decided to make his own.
“I’d go to Home Depot and buy scraps of wood and pieces of copper pipe,” he tells EastIdahoNews.com. “At nighttime, I would try to put different prototypes together. There was sawdust all over the carpet and glue on the table, but I finally got to the point where I felt it would work.”
Ethan created fitness handles that gave users a complete upper body workout. They were compact, lightweight, easy to travel with and could fit in a drawer.
He hired some Brigham Young University engineering students to perfect the invention, and CrossGrips by Jayflex was born.
“They are multi-gym fitness handles. You can use them for a bunch of different exercises — pull-ups, sit-ups and push-ups. Plus, you can attach bands to them and use them that way,” Ethan says.
CrossGrips fold up to the size of a book and weigh less than 4 pounds. Ethan describes them as the "Swiss army knife" of exercise equipment.
On July 31, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the product.
"I started this about nine months ago — around the same time Kinsee got pregnant," Ethan says. "The night we were in the hospital to deliver the baby, we had a couple Kickstarter deadlines. So as we’re waiting for the baby, I’m on the computer finishing last-minute things for this to push out. We like to say she had her baby and I had mine."
Less than two days after launching CrossGrips on Kickstarter, the project had reached its $20,000 goal. And the popularity continues.
As of Wednesday morning, $51,000 had been raised by over 450 backers, and there’s still 22 days left in the campaign.
"It just caught fire over those first few days and gained a lot of traction,” Ethan says. "Our minds have been blown at the response. It’s all about getting the preorder sales, fulfilling those orders and having enough money to buy more inventory and keep it going."
The Abbotts are working with a manufacturer in China to produce CrossGrips. The product should be released to the public in time for Christmas and the New Year — when people generally set fitness goals.
Amazon and some retail stores have already shown interest in carrying the exercise handles and Ethan, who recently completed an MBA program at BYU, eventually hopes CrossGrips will become his full-time job.
"It’s been a lot of fun to make this and see it all come together," he says. "I really believe it’s the best piece of exercise equipment out there."