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Our Story

Jacobs Ladder was developed and patented by Steve Nichols, a former Western New York fitness champion. His participation in strenuous activity left him with a severe back and knee problems that threatened him from the conditioning that he was accustomed to with traditional gym equipment. Steve, having experience in the construction industry, knew that ladder climbing was a great exercise and envisioned a ‘treadmill-like ladder climber’. Steve patented his idea and started building Jacobs Ladder in his garage. Initial customers included the Navy SEALS, Army Rangers, FBI, Georgia Tech, University of Rhode Island and University of Buffalo.

Steve Nichols and Bob Palka

After a few unsuccessful business attempts, Steve decided to dissolve the enterprise. In 2004, Bob Palka, a former All-America athlete from Penn State, engineer and MBA was looking to acquire a business. After 19 years of experience with some of the country’s most successful businesses, he had learned some valuable lessons in manufacturing, engineering, reliability and quality. Bob’s philosophy on business is simple, ‘Business is not about making money, increasing revenue or cutting costs. Business is about creating value for customers and doing it better than anyone on the globe. Once you stop increasing that value, you are on your way out of business.’ A mutual acquaintance introduced Bob and Steve. It was not a smooth start. ‘My first reaction was ‘No, this is not me.’ Says Bob. But after talking to previous customers, he began to realize there was some real value here. ‘People loved the workout and loved the reliability of Jacobs Ladder’ states Bob. He continues, “Once I got a workout at a local university, I knew I had to have one’. Steve wasn’t making them anymore so, the only way to get one was to buy the company!

Just prior to the acquisition, Bob had suffered two herniated discs in his lower back. After an intensive physical therapy program that included Jacobs Ladder, Bob was able to rehabilitate his back to avoid surgery and continue his active lifestyle. “At this point, I knew we had a product that the world needed. The challenge was to bring Jacobs Ladder to the world”

Since then, Jacobs Ladder has continued to grow and expand. Starting out in 5,000 square feet of space in an old piano warehouse, Jacobs Ladder has now grown into 35,000 square feet of manufacturing, has shipped to over 50 countries worldwide, been shown on NBC’s Biggest Loser, Showtime’s Billions, CW’s Legends of Tomorrow and was used to train Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man series. It has been used by numerous professional sports teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Boston Celtics, Kansas City Royals to train their athletes. It has become a high intensity interval tool for countless Div 1 athletic programs like Penn State, Duke, UNC, Ohio State, Michigan and more. But it has also been used by 70 year olds to take stress off of their backs and joints and ‘climb to Mt Everest’.

Jacobs Ladder was been featured on NBC’s Biggest Loser, and has been used by many well known celebrities including Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Downey Jr., and even Mariah Carey!

Jacobs Ladder continues to innovate. The development of Jacobs Ladder 2, Stairway and Stairway GTL that are designed specifically to train fitness enthusiasts, athletes and professionals along with allowing normal users to take their fitness levels to new heights.

Markets Served

Health Clubs

  • Anytime Fitness
  • Snap Fitness
  • Virgin Active
  • Fitness First (VA)
  • The Rush
  • Spectrum Clubs
  • Crunch Fitness
  • UFC Gyms
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Powerhouse Gym
  • World Gym
  • Hemelgarn Ent.
  • National Personal Training Institute
  • In Shape Health Clubs
  • LifeTime Fitness

Professional Teams

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Texas Rangers
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Boston Celtics
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Orlando Predators
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Chicago Bears
  • Montreal Canadians
  • New York Yankees

Military

  • West Point
  • Navy SEALS
  • Army Rangers
  • FBI – Quantico
  • Fort Bragg
  • Fort Benning
  • Hill AFB
  • USAF Training Center
  • Hurlburt Field
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Justice
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center

Fire/ Police Departments

  • Port of Seattle Fire Department
  • Palo Alto Police Department
  • Clarksville, TN Police
  • Tennessee Fire & Codes Academy
  • North Amityville Long Island Fire Department
  • City of McCook, NE Fire Department
  • Hanahan, SC Fire Department
  • Oak Hill, TX Fire Department
  • Lemont, IL Fire Department
  • Sun Prairie, WI Fire Department
  • Lombard, IL Fire Department
  • Riverside, IL Fire Department
  • Erie County/Buffalo, NY Fire Training Bureau
  • Molalla OR Fire Department

Universities

  • Duke University
  • Penn State University
  • Syracuse University
  • University of Washington
  • Marshall University
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas
  • University of Buffalo
  • University of Rhode Island
  • DePaul University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Yale University
  • University of Maine
  • University of Montana
  • Auburn University
  • University of North Florida
  • SUNY Brockport
  • Louisiana State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Illinois State University
  • Bradley University
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