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Obit: Augie Nieto, 65, of Life Fitness


Augie Nieto, a 2008 inductee of the Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame and one of the most successful innovators in the fitness industry who turned his efforts toward finding a cure for ALS after he was diagnosed with the disease 18 years ago, passed away February 22 from his battle with ALS at 65.

Nieto bought the marketing rights to the Lifecycle exercise bike in 1977 at age 19 and three years later he co-founded Lifecycle, Inc., which is now known as Life Fitness. During the next 20 years, Life Fitness grew under his leadership into the largest commercial manufacturer of fitness equipment in the world.

Nieto was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, in February 2005. He was the chairman and co-founder of Augie’s Quest to Cure ALS and was the chairman of the ALS Therapy Development Institute.

“Mr. Nieto had a significant impact on so many lives through his innovative spirit to help people become more physically fit and then with his determination to find a cure for ALS,” says NSGA president and CEO Matt Carlson. “He raised tremendous awareness to the battle he fought with ALS and that legacy will live on as the search for a cure continues. We are saddened to hear about Mr. Nieto’s passing and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and everyone he has helped and touched during his life.”

Nieto, who was born February 15, 1958, passed away peacefully as he was surrounded by his wife Lynne, his family and other loved ones, according to story on the Augie’s Quest to Cure ALS website. He raised nearly $200 million for ALS research.

The announcement of his passing at Augie’s Quest included this message from Nieto:

“Please keep me in your hearts … please help continue the progress of Augie’s Quest to Cure ALS. Please help Lynne to carry on the mission – the second finest achievement of my life. Because I will be in your heart, I will get to experience the joy when we discover a cure.

“I know that my fight is not over. I have battled ALS for almost 18 years. Physically, ALS has finally taken my body, but my battle to rid the world of this insidious disease will continue.”

Nieto also served as chairman of Octane Fitness, a manufacturer of ellipticals, fitness rowers and fitness bikes. He was an operating advisor with North Castle Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity investor that focuses on building companies that advance healthy, active and sustainable living.