Demand for Fitness Equipment Surges in India Following COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdowns
There is little doubt that the novel coronavirus is changing the way many of us approach daily life, and one noticeable area of impact happens to deal with physical health and wellness. After all, who is eager to go back to the gym when everyone is practicing social distancing and intense hygiene measures? Not many and, in fact, gyms are expected to be one of the biggest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic. But people still need to exercise and it looks like consumers in India have found a novel if not obvious workaround: Exercise equipment. Sales of exercise equipment is through the roof since lockdown measures were implemented and analysts think this is a trend that will continue into the near future.
Why is this? For one, a lot of the activity in gyms is sustained by trainers and the classes they teach. With social distancing looking like a thing that will be with us for some time, trainers cannot really give clients the one-on-one support they could in the past. As these various trends combine, gyms are not only facing an uphill battle but wellness-crazed Indian consumers are being forced to make tough choices now and it looks like they’re going with working out at home. If equipment sales are anything to judge, the commitment to working out at home won’t just be a passing phase, either.
Leading Indian fitness equipment company Afton Fitness has reported a whopping 5 times increase in sales volume since the outbreak of the pandemic. Popular equipment includes dumbbells, weight plates, kettlebells, barbells, benches, power racks and smith machines, treadmills, and ellipticals. Headquartered in Chennai India, Afton also emphasized the unique nature of the equipment being purchased. This isn’t your everyday stuff but rather some of the latest in connected fitness technology from brands like Sole Fitness, Spirit, Xterra and Xebex.
Chief Executive Officer Jim Barr of Nautilus told Reuters of their equipment sales, “Demand for many of our home-fitness products continues to outpace supply and we are pulling all levers to accelerate the manufacturing and delivery of key products.”
Yet even with the accelerated business, Barr is urging caution. He notes that “the coming quarters may present added challenges for all businesses as we better understand the longer-term impacts of COVID-19” and, because of the novelty of the pandemic situation from an economic standpoint, it might be too early to go all-in on certain segments.
Another thing to watch is whether or not demand continues as production facilities come back online. While many people have time to work out at home now, will that still be the case in six months or even a year hence?
Jean Michel Fournier is bullish on the prospects that the current shift represents a permanent change in consumer attitudes.
He told Forbes, “Consumerization of the fitness club (a $100bn industry) is inevitable. This industry will need to follow the member into the anytime and anywhere model – At home and travel. This changes the core economics and service levels and more of a 24/7 engagement model. The pandemic has bought the idea of the club into the house on a wider basis than before, so the opportunities are much bigger than ever before to shift the relationship away from old world economics.”