Treadmill engineer and fitness guru William Staub died on July 19 at the age of 96. Staub did not invent the machine that everyone loves to hate; he streamlined it, transforming it into the equipment we recognize today. By adding a belt to cover the rollers and giving home-athletes the ability to control the speed and track the time, he began a fitness movement. Staub's treadmill version was smaller and more compact than previous machine incarnations, making them more suitable for home use.
Staub's passion for running was inspired by Dr. Kenneth Cooper's 1968 book called, "Aerobics." Staub's son, Gerald Staub, talked with the San Francisco Chronicle about how the book inspired his father to exercise. "Dr. Cooper said if you ran a mile in 8 minutes and did it four to five times a week, you would always be in a good fitness category," Gerald Staub said. "He said even I - no excuses - I can afford 8 minutes. That's what excited him about it." The engineer wanted to take the treadmill out of its solely commercial landscape and place in the hands of everyday people who wanted to get and stay healthy.
Already a successful businessman when he began his treadmill company, Staub created the PaceMaster which he passed to his sons. According to Sports Illustrated, William Staub was born in 1915 in Philadelphia and died in at home in Clifton, New Jersey. His wife, Dorothy died in 2007 and a daughter died in 1977. He is survived by four sons and two daughters. Gerald Staub says that his father was working out on his treadmill regularly and saw him on the treadmill just a few months ago.