The sports and fitness product industry grew to more than $90 billion in sales in 2017, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) recently published 2018 Manufacturers’ Sales Report. Here’s a closer look at this booming industry, what’s driving the trend, and what fitness business owners should know.

A Booming Industry

In announcing the latest figures, President and CEO of SFIA Tom Cove said, “The sports and fitness products industry is resilient. Though we have faced profound changes in retail landscape and consumer behavior, the industry continues to innovate and deliver products that Americans want, in order to maintain their desired active lifestyle.” 

At the forefront of the fitness equipment market, and expected to continue to lead in the years ahead, according to Global Market Insights Inc.? Health clubs and gyms.

Key Fitness Market Drivers

Specifically, the strength training equipment market has been identified as a major driver in the fitness business market, and is expected to account for more than 35 percent of all business revenue by the year 2023. Resistance bands, free weights, and strength training machines are expected to continue to be in demand over the next half-decade as more people learn the benefits of building strength, enhancing muscle size, and boosting anaerobic endurance. 

Cardiovascular machines will also remain preferrable with gym members and trainers. While weight loss may be the primary reason for their popularity, other factors also come into play, such as metabolism improving, heart rate conditioning, fat burning, and body turning. 

No discussion of the fitness product industry is complete without mention of wearables. According to Global Market Insights, the wearable device market will skyrocket at a CAGR of 24 percent to exceed $12 billion by the year 2023. 

While wearables have applications in a number of industries ranging from healthcare to senior living, they’re also having a significant impact in the fitness sector. In fact, wearables have claimed a perennial spot on lists of top global fitness trends, including the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends.”  

Said Walter R. Thompson, lead author of the survey and associate dean in the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University in Atlanta, “Technology is now a must-have in our daily lives. Everyone can easily count steps taken or calories burned using a wearable device or a smartphone.” 

The takeaway for fitness business owners? Wearable technology is quickly moving from the category of nicety to necessity and can play a key role in both member recruitment and member retention. 

But all wearable technology isn’t created equal — nor is its implementation. Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for the wearables team at the International Data Corporation (IDC), told Forbes, “Since the market’s inception, it’s been a matter of getting the product out there to generate awareness and interest. Now it’s about getting the experience right — from the way the hardware looks and feels to how the software collects, analyzes and presents insightful data.”  

The same applies to all fitness equipment in today’s increasingly competitive fitness business landscape:  Ultimately, having the equipment or technology isn’t what matters; having the right equipment and technology is. 

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