Yoga continues to gain popularity in fitness, outdoor industries

Yoga is going mainstream. Expect to see the activity's increased incorporation into fitness and outdoor pursuits and products. SNEWS caught up with Beth Shaw, founder and president of YogaFit, at the recent IHRSA fitness trade show to talk trends, yoga popularity and a secret project she’s working on with a manufacturer.

Yoga is going mainstream in our industries as more fitness and outdoor athletes are incorporating the activity into their training and recovery routines.

So its no stretch to see product manufacturers beginning to pair yoga attributes with fitness and outdoor equipment, apparel and footwear, much the way fitness equipment Octane has partnered with PowerBlock to capitalize on the crossfit training surge.

SNEWS caught up with Beth Shaw, founder and president of YogaFit, at the recent IHRSA fitness trade show to talk trends, yoga popularity and a secret future project she’s working on with a manufacturer. She said specialty outdoor and fitness retailers can capitalize on yoga's $16 billion industry.

“And it’s only growing,” Shaw said. “Only about five percent of the population is doing yoga so there’s a huge pool to pull from – there’s another 95 percent of the population to attract.”

In the meantime, that five percent is spending a good chunk of money. Consistently for the past few years, yoga accessories have been one of the top five best-selling items for specialty fitness retailers, and Shaw said she doesn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

In case retailers need to brush up on how to sell yoga accessories, take a look at this Yoga Journal story titled “Yoga Retail 101.”

Yoga explosion
Yoga's rapid growth was evident at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in early 2013 with the new Yoga Zone, showcasing more brands and a greater presence on the show floor.According to the spring 2012 study from MRI, a U.S. research firm, there are 16.3 million people who participate in yoga. A majority of participants in other popular sports on the list were also yoga practitioners. For example, 49.1 percent of the marathoners and triathletes practiced yoga, 43.9 percent of the cross-country skiers and 42.4 percent of the climbers practiced yoga.

“People are seeing yoga as the ultimate cross-training tool as well as a great standard exercise," Shaw said. There's also 'restorative yoga' that some athletes use for recovery.

Shaw said she’s noticed a slew of “hybrid yoga” activities like her own YogaFit Sweat program, which is a safe hot yoga alternative.

Speaking to both fitness and outdoor enthusiasts, FreeMotion Fitness introduced Ocean Yoga, a yoga program to be done on the unstable surface of a stand-up paddleboard resting on air-filled discs (photo, right).

“The more yoga the better,” Shaw said.

Staying YogaFit
Shaw began practicing yoga when she moved to Los Angeles from New York in the early 1990s.

“It’s just one of those L.A. things one does,” Shaw said. Before yoga got really popular, Shaw was already a professional, deciding to establish her educational business from her living room in 1994. Currently the company trains yoga instructors all over the country, produces yoga DVDs and is currently looking for an apparel manufacturer to license its brand for a YogaFit line of clothing.

“We’re on the education and business side and are not a clothing business, but we’re looking for somebody who sees value to license it for clothing,” Shaw said. “We’re looking to license our brand to the best partners in a variety of industries.”

Though Shaw isn’t exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, she’ll be walking the floor, excited to break into a new industry, as the fitness industry has been YogaFit’s niche since its inception. The recent addition of the Yoga Zone, sponsored by SNEWS’ sister publication Yoga Journal, was a big selling point.

Back on the fitness side, Shaw said she's working with a yet-to-be-named fitness manufacturer to add yoga elements to fitness equipment.

“We’ll be coming out with the first hard goods product made exclusively for yoga, working with [fitness] equipment companies,” she said. While the deal is still under wraps, Shaw said she should expect to share information with SNEWS within the next few months.

--Ana Trujillo