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Fitness accessories aren't just a means to get buff, tone thighs or get a six-pack. In fact, they are training and performance aids that your customers need so they can perform better at their chosen activities, develop targeted strength and flexibility, remain injury-free, and function better day-to-day. We review all you need to know in, for example, selecting an assortment for your store, merchandising, and selling to your customer.
Explaining the technical specs of a piece of cardio equipment can be important to your customers. It's vital, however, not to overlook the human details of helping a customer choose the right piece, and then create a space that will best suit their needs and help them get the most out of what you sold them once it's home. We review what customers should be told about taking advantage of location, setup, entertainment and extras to make you look like a star.
Kettlebells, those cast iron cannonball-like things with handles and a flat bottom, aren't exactly new. In fact, the Romans were swinging them around their bodies in training many centuries ago, and the Russians still have "girya," or kettlebell, competitions that date back to at least the turn of the century. A former Soviet Secret Services trainer and agent, Pavel Tsatsouline, who was also a nationally ranked "girya" competitor there, has been credited with introducing kettlebells and training to the United States on a broad scale.
The medicine ball --Â€Â“ basically a weighted ball -- is quite simple and one of the oldest fitness training aids in the world. It is a very versatile piece of strength-training equipment, especially useful for core training as well as plyometric training and can be used in everything from football-style exercises to games to sit-ups.
Home gyms have come a long way since the original multi-station setups of the late 'Â€Â˜60s and early 'Â€Â˜70s. When customers come into your store, many may not even realize the possibilities in styles, configurations and options. YouâÂ€Â™ll need to devote time and attention to learning your customersâÂ€Â™ needs and space requirements, while also educating them about whatâÂ€Â™s available.
Originally used in hospitals and rehabilitation, rubber resistance tubing -- like many physical therapy products -- started spreading to fitness programs and health clubs in the early 1980s. It wasn't long before fitness professionals saw the benefits of a lightweight, inexpensive and compact item that could be adapted to so many different goals, settings and abilities. Today, rubber resistance tubing is used in health clubs worldwide in group exercise classes, as well as in training studios, medical and rehab facilities and in sports and recreation programs. Plus, you'll likely find them in suitcases and living rooms around the globe.
When home gyms in the late '90s broke away from the traditional arms and levers that were fixed in form and path, a whole new mode of strength-training was born. Although physical therapists had talked of "functional training" for a very long time, it was a concept just being learned and accepted in fitness training. And one that was to leave its imprint on all things moving forward.
As the biggest selling, most popular and still easiest to use piece of cardiovascular equipment around, treadmills nevertheless aren't a piece of cake to sell. They are high-end machines with brushes, bearings, decks, motors, rollers and horsepower. You may be really into all that tech talk, but we can guarantee you most consumers couldn't care less.
Despite all the high-tech gizmos on the market today that are promoted as helping to motivate and track a fitness program, pedometers remain a simple, inexpensive and relatively low-tech piece that can do that and more. They can be easily added-on to other sales as a supplement to home exercise equipment, too.
Although indoor cycling was something that outdoor road cyclists did as a part of normal training, the indoor cycle trainer as we know it didn't become a huge part of the indoor fitness world until classes began to spring up at clubs in the '80s. The trainer made it easy to simulate outdoor cycling while indoors without the hassle of bringing in an outdoor road bike and clamping it up on a trainer so you could cycle without going anywhere. The masses responded to the concept -- first, in clubs and, then, at home -- as did the manufacturing community, which looked for ways to make indoor trainers more comfortable and more authentic.
The upright bike -- the original piece of programmable, computerized exercise equipment -- has evolved since its earliest days into a go-to standby that can give anybody, anywhere a workout. It can offer a cruising, comfy workout for those interested in a less intense ride; a hard-driving, intensely aerobic or even anaerobic workout for those seeking hard-core training; and it can provide anything in between to all shapes and sizes.
Ever since recumbent bikes entered the fitness equipment market some three decades ago, they have maintained their niche. At first only a sub-category of bikes, recumbents have become a category of their own with wide appeal and importance to the fitness retailer who should not ignore them despite being in the shadows of ellipticals and treadmills. That's because recumbents attract a demographic that may not normally be fond of or comfortable on other pieces of exercise equipment.
Ever since the concept of an elliptical trainer was introduced in the mid-1990s, the equipment's popularity has grown exponentially. And no wonder: They are non-impact and the movement feels quite natural (like running or walking). Add upper body arms and your customer could have a non-impact, full-body workout that can satisfy everyone from total beginners to very advanced exercisers. Although they still haven't dethroned the treadmill as the equipment king, elliptical trainers are edging closer and may be worth showing and explaining to customers who either don't know about ellipticals or have come in asking about treadmills âÂ€Â“ just because it is yet another option for their consideration.
So your customers are coming in shopping for treadmills, home gyms, yoga mats, and bikes, as well as for gear for activities such as skiing and hiking. They want to burn calories, strengthen muscles, get flexible, run faster and be better at weekend pursuits. But if you just sell them that equipment and don't talk to them about balance training gear, you could be doing them a disservice and could lose a regular customer down the road.
People still live by the scale. The problem is, however, the scale only measures people's total body weight and not how much lean or muscle tissue compared to how much body fat they have. There are a number of ways to measure body fat. Considered the most accurate, underwater or hydrostatic weighing can be quite expensive and complicated, not to mention difficult for the average person to find. There are different methods of so-called bioelectrical impedance where electrical currents are sent through a body to measure its density, but the accuracy depends on many factors and the numbers can fluctuate drastically. That leaves you with body-fat calipers -- simple and inexpensive devices that anybody with some practice can use to monitor their progress.
Hydraulic exercise systems aren't new. In fact, they were introduced back in the early days of the modern fitness industry in the '70s as an inexpensive alternative to the then very expensive equipment being marketed for testing and rehab. Back then, the systems were mainly sold to medical and athletic markets such as sport teams, hospitals and labs. It wasn't until the express workout chain Curves took the world by storm in the '90s with its hydraulic equipment that the system gained a second life and immense popularity. More light commercial and commercial markets are now taking a serious look and even home users can find some benefit. Why? They are safe and self-adjusting. Your customers should also consider the benefits.
Selling is tough, we know that and you know that. Selling higher price points -- potentially higher than we could afford ourselves -- is even tougher. It's very easy to sell the products that we would buy or that we consider affordable. But if we only find ourselves selling the same few products to everyone that walks in the door of the store, no matter what kind of person or expectations they have, is that fair to the customer, the store or your own paycheck?
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