Corona: Companies are selling more fitness equipment for the home

Companies are selling more home fitness equipment

A woman trains with the interactive mirror from Vaha. Photo: Britta Pedersen/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

Whether treadmill or rowing machine – people invest more money in fitness equipment in Corona times to stay fit. The niche industry of exercise bike manufacturers is experiencing an upswing – but for how long?

The sale of exercise bikes experienced a boom in Corona times. However, according to industry representatives, the business for sports in your own four walls will soon weaken.

For this year, one expects a sales level like 2019 and thus like before the pandemic, said the managing director of the device manufacturer Christopeit from Velbert (NRW), Marco Schenkelberg. That would be a sharp minus, because according to the company boss, annual sales in 2021 were 40 percent higher than in 2019. He did not give any absolute figures. The German Industry Association for Fitness and Health (DIFG) also expects weaker business in 2022.

The niche industry of home appliance manufacturers has come through the pandemic brilliantly so far. According to an estimate by the DIFG, private individuals spent 250 million euros on sports equipment in German specialist shops in 2019, 300 million euros in 2020 and even 350 million euros in 2021. In addition to Christopeit, other companies also benefited from the boom. The company Hammer Sport from Neu-Ulm, for example, more than quintupled its profit in the financial year that ended in March 2021 to 8.7 million euros.

The reason for the boom is obvious: In the Corona times, fitness studios were temporarily closed, but access is currently only possible under very strict Corona regulations. Many people still wanted to train and bought a treadmill, a rowing machine, a stepper or a spinning bike to take home. The demand was much greater than the supply. Christopeit boss Schenkelberg reports that he could have sold twice as much – but his stocks were not sufficient for that. Supply chain problems also plagued this industry.

And how does it continue? “In 2022, demand will certainly fall, as many have just purchased new devices,” suspects DIFG board member Ulrich Kürschner. “Now people want to travel again, go to restaurants and buy textiles. That is why the investment volume is more selective, because it is distributed again,” said Schenkelberg, explaining the muted expectations.

“You don’t want to train alone at home anymore”

Digitization is also finding its way into this market segment. Virtually networked devices are very popular, says a spokeswoman for the electronics retail chain MediaMarktSaturn. One example of this is the Berlin high-tech company Vaha. It sells a large mirror display showing a digital personal trainer. According to company boss Valerie Bures, Vaha’s business picked up sharply last year, and the upward trend is expected to continue in 2022. She does not give exact numbers.

Does the workout at home replace a visit to the gym? Of course not, say the ranks of the gym operators. The founder of the boutique fitness studio Becycle, Gundula Cöllen-Sorger, reports a “run” on fitness equipment for the home in the first lockdown in 2020. In the meantime, however, she often hears from customers that these devices are hardly used and have now been converted into coat racks . It draws people back to the studios. “They miss their community and no longer want to train at home alone,” says Cöllen-Sorger. The January business has so far gone much better than expected.


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