President, Busy Body Gyms to Go
Pampano Beach, Fla.
What do you think is the biggest challenge specialty fitness retailers face today?
Manufacturers have to continue to pursue getting more product in storefronts. With specialty storefronts shrinking, big box seems to be the alternative. This alternative proves to be flawed for a long-term solution. In many cases the only order the manufacturer gets is the opening order, and it falsely sets expectations. When product is offered in many places, it creates pricing wars and ultimately leads to devaluing the brand and loss of profit for both parties.
Among the new technology manufacturers are coming out with these days, what is your favorite and why?
It's no secret that Apple owns the tablet and smart phone world. This touch capacitive and gesturing technology is here to stay and is only becoming more in demand. That said, with what Precor is doing on the commercial side and what other manufacturers have shown, such as products being operated by an app downloaded on their smart device. I believe this technology to be the future and will only trickle down more.
What are some items that are starting to become popular with consumers?
The categories gaining traction are WBV (Whole Body Vibration) and outdoor elliptical cycling. More and more studies are being done on WBV and it is getting in front of the public, therefore driving consumers to look for the product. WBV units priced under $3,000, like the Zen Pro from Powervibe, are where the magical price point is for consumers. The Elliptigo has proven to be an effective and convenient piece of equipment for consumers and is the iconic piece in its category and now offering three price points helps.
Do you think equipment appearances on TV shows (like "The Biggest Loser") or in competitions (like Weight Watchers Live.Life.Active) inspires customers to buy it? Why or why not?
It definitely does! Look at the rower category. Before the last two seasons, "The Biggest Loser" used the Concept 2 rowers; now they use the WaterRower. At the store and commercial level, we have seen sales spike! Franchise Orange Theory Fitness is using the WaterRower in their locations and more and more business are starting up as hybrid's of Crossfit, regular gyms and group fitness programs.
What do you think specialty fitness retailers need to do to remain profitable in the future?
They need to focus on a few core brands and stay true to those brands with no overlap of price points, limit the amount of SKUs offered while still being diversified enough to appeal to the masses. Stores should go back to the basics and develop local networking, become involved with the local community to brand the name and create awareness. Owners should be in touch with the daily operations of the business, from sales processing, financing, quoting, merchandising, marketing logistics and more.
--Compiled by Ana Trujillo