Werner Kieser, 18 October 1940 – 19 May 2021

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Werner Kieser died of heart failure on Wednesday night. On Tuesday he and his wife, Dr. med. Gabriela Kieser, trained together at the Kieser Training Studio in Zurich Enge. It was the last strength training session of what was an exciting and full life.

Werner Kieser (born October 18, 1940 in Zurich; resident in Lenzburg) opened his first strength training studio in 1966 on Kanzleistrasse in Zurich.

Today the company operates over 160 studios in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Australia. Werner Kieser's wife, Dr. med. Gabriela Kieser was a formative co-developer of Kieser Training and contributed towards the company’s strong medical orientation.

Werner Kieser learned the trade of a carpenter as a young man and did amateur boxing in the 1950s. In a boxing match he suffered an extremely painful torn pleura, whereupon a friend drew his attention to the possibilities of strength training, which was almost unknown at the time. His pain disappeared within a few days with simple dumbbell training.

For Werner Kieser, this experience was the impetus to offer strength training also for friends - and later customers. First of all, he bought a book on welding to make simple dumbbells and metal benches. Step by step, he expanded the initially extremely simply furnished dumbbell studio into a chain with innovative machines.

In 2017, he and his wife sold the company to long-time managing director Michael Antonopoulos and board member Nils Planzer. Until the last day he worked on new ways to strengthen the human body, including muscles that are difficult to train, such as the pelvic floor, foot, hand and shoulder muscles.

The media in Europe gave him various titles, such as those of the "back guru", the "back pope", "power apostle", "fitness pioneer" or - due to his "less is more" concept - also the " Mies van der Rohe (1) of fitness".

  • 1966: Werner Kieser opens his first strength training studio on Kanzleistrasse in Zurich.
  • 1967: Kieser founds Kieser Training AG.
  • 1975: Kieser receives the trainer's diploma from the Fédération de Culture Physique Suisse. Until his death he published numerous articles and books and gave countless lectures in training studios, at sports schools, universities, clinics and company events in Germany and abroad.
  • 1978: Werner Kieser found out about the invention of the Nautilus machines in the mid-1970s. At this time, the fitness wave from the USA spilled over to Europe. In 1978 Werner Kieser visited the inventor of the then revolutionary Nautilus machines, the American Arthur Jones. Its invention was revolutionary: it was 20 years ahead of the fitness industry. The genius Jones became Werner Kieser's long-term mentor and business partner. Kieser was the first in Europe to equip his studios with the then legendary Nautilus machines from the USA.
  • 1980 to 1995: Werner Kieser intensifies contact with Jones. He takes over the general agency for Nautilus in Europe. When Jones and his second company brought MedX machines onto the market, which made it possible for the first time to test and train the deep back extensors, Kieser bought them too.
  • 1990: The new machines are set up in the first Kieser training studio on Kanzleistrasse. Kieser Training starts with a revolutionary, health-oriented approach under the leadership of his wife Dr. med. Gabriela Kieser.
  • 1996: The Swiss Franchise Association appoints Werner Kieser as its President, and from 2000 to 2006 Kieser becomes President of the F + F  School of Art and Design in Zurich.
  • 2003: Kieser takes over all rights from Arthur Jones ‘companies. From then on, Kieser Training developed and produced all machines in-house. He also promoted medical strengthening therapy with the professional expertise of his wife and achieved a leading position in the global market for strengthening therapies and machines. Kieser Training today owns numerous patents for these in-house developments.
  • 2011: At the age of 71, Werner Kieser graduated from the Open University with a master's degree in philosophy.
  • 2017: As part of the succession plan, the entrepreneurial couple Werner and Gabriela Kieser sold Kieser Training AG to the managing director Michael Antonopoulos and to the board member Nils Planzer. Werner continues to support the development of new devices and processes and is requested as a speaker for numerous events - an activity that was recently restricted only by the Covid pandemic.
  • 2018: Kieser Training takes a further step in innovation: In several tests and experiments, Werner comes across the hypothesis that muscle tremors are reduced from training without weight. This triggers the development of a new machine in the innovation department of Kieser Training: the infimetric leg press without weights. The devices have now been installed in all studios and are very much appreciated by customers. https://www.kieser-training.ch/training/maschinen/i-b6-maschine/
  • 2019: Werner Kieser continues tinkering after the company has been sold. The prototype of his Kieser Kontor exercise bike should enable the exercises of squats, pull-ups and parallel bars. The unexpected death prevents Kieser from bringing this device onto the market during his lifetime.
  • 2019: Werner Kieser's life's work and the story of Kieser Training are filmed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8jM-GyrKnc

On May 19, 2021 Werner Kieser died of heart failure in his house in Zurich in the presence of his wife Gabriela.


Selected quotes:

"A strong back knows no pain."

"Man grows with resistance."

"Strength training isn't fun, but it makes you happy."

"Muscle training is like brushing your teeth - neither spectacular nor enjoyable, quite simply necessary."

"It is only the strength of the muscles that keeps us upright - for a lifetime."

"We cannot prevent us from getting older, but we can prevent us from becoming weaker."

"The old are spared to death."


(1) Pioneer of modernist architecture


Further questions? Please contact:

Andreas Bantel
Bantel & Partner AG
Othmarstrasse 8
8008 Zurich
Office: +41 44 389 17 05
Mobile: +41 79 231 56 62
Fax: +41 44 575 31 97
Mail: andreas.bantel@bantel.ch