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Auburn woman’s fitness invention sees national success

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Four years after she chanced upon an idea for a workout enhancer, Auburn fitness trainer Karen Joy Allen’s Fitstix are dancing to success. Subsequently renamed Joyfitstix, they’re being sold across the nation and internationally. And last week, Allen made an appearance on QVC, the popular TV shopping channel. The Joyfitstix are weighted batons loaded with noise-making granules that, when shaken, make a sound resembling a rain stick. The original version weighs 11 ounces. The newer Joyfitstix Pro is 14 ounces and has a stickier grip, friend and business associate Katherine Burgmann of Grass Valley said this week. Allen, who has four children, got the idea for the batons one day when she was practicing fitness moves and happened to pick up her oldest son’s flute. “I started exercising with that and the idea formulated from there,” she said. “I needed something that makes noise so you know you made the move correctly.” Allen, who previously led classes at Courthouse Athletic Club, said that when she introduced Fitstix there in 2005, students immediately liked working out with them. “My product is smooth, it works with your body and it’s very flowing,” she said. “They’re very lightweight and help work a full range of motion.” Since then, she has marketed her Fitstix through word-of-mouth, fitness conventions and trade shows. She has produced four workout videos and has two more in postproduction. This year, gross sales are running close to $100,000, she said. The Spare Time Clubs chain of workout gyms has used the Joyfitstix program for about year. The invention got an extra boost recently when the 24-Hour Fitness chain decided to try out the concept in its gyms in Downtown Sacramento, Carmichael and the Bay Area. If the trial run proves successful, they plan to add them to their programs throughout the U.S., Allen said. The idea is also catching on in schools, keeping Allen busy traveling for training sessions. She recently completed one for Oakland Unified School District teachers and will be doing another training session later this month for teachers in the Madera school district. “We have thousands of stix out there with kids,” Allen said. But getting on QVC was a major coup for Allen, who says thousands of entrepreneurs try to book time on the show each year. “I sent the product, they took a look at it and loved it,” she said. Allen landed an eight-minute appearance on the show’s two-hour wellness program. It went so well that she has been invited back. The details are still being worked out, but Allen said she’ll have more airtime to discuss her product on the next show. Allen’s Fitstix were not only conceived locally, they are manufactured by PrePlastics at the Airport Industrial Park in North Auburn. Natalie Otis contributed to this story. The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com