SNEWS Fitness magazine 2008 / Yoga Trends
Within Reach: Fitness retailers don't have to bend over backward to successfully sell yoga products.
I took my first yoga class in 1979 in San Francisco from a true, trained-in-India yogi who, on the last day of class,
showed students photos of himself on a narrow rock outcropping balancing on one arm while in a cross-legged
pose. Impressed? Forgot to mention his head was down and his butt was up in the air. And his hand was inches
from the edge of a sheer cliff.
Three decades later I still remember that photo and my experience as a young student in that class. I’ve fallen off and gotten back on the yoga wagon periodically over the years, depending on what was happening in the rest of my life. But I’ve always been an advocate of the activity, watching its growth and trends with interest, especially as traditional fi tness enthusiasts discovered it. Recently, I’ve also listened to more retailers than I can count tell us either in our annual SNEWS® Retailer Survey or personally that they see no reason to bother with yoga equipment since it’s a “commodity” and can be found at all the mass merchants and discounters.
“Target has a lot of basic stuff, that’s true. But it’s dull … with a capital D,” said Anne Appleby, using that retail chain as an example. Appleby’s been a yogi for about two decades and, out of frustration with traditional, thin, plain sticky mats, she recently came out with her own yoga mat, called Yoga Force.
Despite the growing number of people practicing yoga, few stores carry quality yoga stuff. But, why should fi tness retailers care? Because the majority of the people engaged in yoga also participate in other fi tness activities regularly. And last year they spent $1.9 billion on equipment and apparel, according to a survey released earlier this year by Yoga Journal magazine. For specialty retailers, the yoga market represents a real opportunity.