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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Americans bulk up on home gym equipment to stay fit while staying at home

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Americans bulk up on home gym equipment to stay fit while staying at home
Americans bulk up on home gym equipment to stay fit while staying at home

With millions of Americans staying home, demand has soared for fitness equipment to create home gyms - both as a way to stay fit and to relieve stress.

As coronavirus stay-at-home orders have shut gyms, their customers are turning to home workouts to keep in shape during the pandemic.

The demand for fitness equipment, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, and home bikes, has grown exponentially.

Social worker Jennifer Yabut, who trains in CrossFit and martial arts, bought a used rower from a New Jersey gym.

"I decided to pick up the rower to add some cardio into my workouts, sprint work, and also some distance work as well," Yabut said over a Zoom video call from her home gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Once the pandemic started and her Orangetheory Fitness gym closed the doors, Chiaki Osaka hoped to buy a Peloton bike because she had heard it's a good workout.

But she said the bikes were sold out and the waitlist was long, so she settled for a Schwinn equivalent from Amazon.

"I was afraid to, one, get out of shape, and, two, I'm staying inside and working on my computer all day," Osaka said from her home in Cupertino, California.

"I needed a change, and I needed structure to my life." She now works out more intensively than before the pandemic, she said.

Freelance journalist Hoda Emam bought a trampoline to keep her three kids under the age of five occupied.

"The kids were waking up in the morning with a ton of energy," Emam said.

"Under normal circumstances, they would go to school or preschool, and we did not have a way to get out all this pent-up energy." Now, she and her husband, who also works from home, can also focus on work.

Trampolines, stationary bikes, and rowers are part of the fitness equipment market that was worth $11.5 billion in 2019, according to Allied Market Research.

It is expected to reach $15.2 billion by 2027.

The NPD Group reports a 130% rise overall in fitness equipment sales, with huge increases for weights, weight benches and stationary bikes for the month of March.

Bikes were up 170%, free weights at 181% and benches at 259%, according to a release from May 7 on NPD's website.

In the coronavirus era, companies that are part of that market and want to stay relevant, need to shift gears, said Ryan McGrotty, co-founder of a fitness equipment supplier Rep Fitness, based in Denver, Colorado.

"A lot of the companies, that had previously specialized in commercial equipment, are now starting to market things towards the home gym market," McGrotty said.

"I think a lot of companies, if they want to survive, that's honestly going to be the way that they have to go, at least for the next year or so." McGrotty would not cite numbers, but he said his company is seeing demand that "exceeds Black Friday levels, every day since March 13th." On Rep Fitness' website and in a voicemail recording, notifications alert buyers of delays on shipments because of high order volume.

In March, Crystal Marcus-Kanesaka's family moved their marital art practice from a dojo in Manhattan's Chelsea to their home basement in Tarrytown, equipped with new mats and wooden weapons bought online.

"We normally train at a martial arts hall, but, obviously, that was one of the first things to close down because there's so much physical contact," Marcus-Kanesaka said.

"So, for about two-and-a-half months, we've been at home.

We kind of built our own little home dojo here, and the dog trains with us." New Yorker living in Japan, Raji Krishnaswami, shelled out $500 on a set of adjustable dumbbells.

He also bough a stationary bike, that he uses during conference calls, and weights.

"When I canceled that (gym) membership, the first thing I did was to get a bench and barbells, so I can continue some of the weight training I was doing." With all this equipment within arm's reach, he said he works out more than he used to at his now shuttered gym.

(Production: Aleksandra Michalska)

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