Erik Thompson, a Detroit entrepreneur and track coach who invented fitness equipment, died March 22 after being diagnosed with leukemia more than five years ago. He was 50.
Thompson’s invention — the Core Crank, an exercise tool designed for overweight people — was featured in the Free Press in December. Thompson came up with the Core Crank after his friend and business partner Danard Bailey was hospitalized due to complications from his obesity.
Bailey, who once weighed 460 pounds, began using the Core Crank daily and lost about 250 pounds. The device has a small weight attached to a spinning pole that relies on centripetal force to work various muscles. Thompson had compared its benefits to those of a jump rope.
Thompson and Bailey, longtime friends who partnered on numerous ventures, were featured in November with the Core Crank on the Science Channel’s “All-American Makers” show. They didn’t secure an investment on the “Shark Tank”-style program, but continued to pursue marketing the product, which they believed filled an underserved niche of the fitness industry: obese people who cannot use conventional fitness equipment.
Thompson and Bailey tried to raise $60,000 on a crowdfunding site to produce the Core Crank, but fell short.
To carry out Thompson’s vision and determined spirit, Bailey and Thompson’s family said they will make Core Cranks by hand.
“We’re not going to stop,” Bailey said Monday. “That’s the one thing that Erik did not want us to do was stop.”
Aaron Robinson, Thompson’s son, said Thompson taught his family how to hand-make the Core Crank in the days before his death.
“We’re just going to push them out from the living room like he did,” said Robinson, 30. “That would make him proud.”
Thompson was an Army veteran, fitness trainer and a track coach for more than a decade at Denby and Southeastern high schools.
Services will be at Stinson Funeral Homes in Detroit, 16540 Meyers Road. Visitation is 1-4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The funeral is 10:30 a.m. Thursday. His family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs.
Contact Joe Guillen: 313-222-6678 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @joeguillen.