Signs of Life in the Fitness Business
27 Sep '17

Signs of Life in the Fitness Business

Ever since the Great Recession, the fitness equipment business has been in a state of consolidation, shrinkage, and essentially digging in a defensive position. Scores of companies that were around before the Great Recession are no longer around today and in many cases, some name brands that are still around today are still around in name only.


This is still true in 2017 even though we are close to being 10 years past the worst of the downturn. Just last week we learned of another major manufacturer of fitness equipment who is giving up on the fitness market and making other products. At least they didn’t go out of business completely.


People don’t realize it but one of the big problems with the large retailer Sears is that as recently as 10 years ago, Sears controlled over 30% of the retail fitness equipment market in the USA and that market share has been in a steady nosedive. In the past, that has been one of their biggest profit drivers and now, it has eroded with the rest of their businesses.


With all that doom and gloom, you might think we shouldn’t be left in a room with sharp objects but that is not the case. For instance, some areas of the business are thriving with multiple new chains that are redefining the club market with low cost alternatives all the way up to luxury fitness clubs.


In the home market, there have been innovations like iFit that help keep you entertained, motivated, and providing the distraction that so many people need. For the last several years, you could easily see how the home fitness market is a great place to go to get depressed. Not only have hundreds of specialty fitness stores closed their doors, even the major retailers have shrunk the floor space available for fitness equipment.


As with most other industries, more and more of the sales are moving online so while many people may still want to see the product in person, more and more people are making their whole sales process totally online from research to selection without ever stepping on the machine until they get it delivered to their home.


The big change we are seeing this year is several factories are rolling out new and redesigned models at a rate that we simply haven’t seen since the Great Recession. There are some exciting new machines from Bowflex and an old brand name from the past, Pacemaster, is being resurrected from the dead.


The machines that we have been looking at and taking apart in preparation for our reviews for the 2018 year have us excited for this coming year and also hope it is a foretaste of what is to come.

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