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Warming up to CrossFit: Traditional fitness companies embrace CrossFit

More conventional fitness companies step into CrossFit realm

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The overall fitness industry is embracing CrossFit tighter.

While specialty fitness retailers reported CrossFit didn’t necessarily help their bottom line in a story we wrote in June, it looks like that might be changing.

What seemed to be holding retailers back from feeling a benefit from the boom in boxes was the lack of big-ticket items to sell to CrossFitters. Now that traditional fitness manufacturers are offering more than just accessories for the popular workout, retailers could be singing a different tune. In fact, some already are.

Equipment makers such as Fitness Masters International are giving CrossFit items a go. At September’s Health and Fitness Business Expo in June, FMI launched its Athletic Performance Equipment line for functional training and CrossFit that includes sleds and land mines.

Plus, LifeCore released the Assault Air Bike stationary cycle in hopes of providing an alternative to the rowers for cardio popular in many boxes.

FMI’s director of sales, Ed Banasky, said the APE line has received some great feedback from retailers.

“It’s not overtaking the world yet,” Banasky said with a laugh, “but [HFB] was our first show to show it to dealers and it did get a lot of orders from the show.”

Time to take advantage
CrossFit hit the scene in a big way years ago, and experts said it’s not going away anytime soon.

“It’s a trend that’s just going to continue and get even bigger,” Banasky said. “Why else would Reebok sign a 10-year deal with CrossFit? They know there’s money there to be made.”

It’s not going away because at the core is something fundamental — functional fitness, said Jeff Marbel, owner of Show Me Weights in Fenton, Mo.

Marbel himself is a CrossFitter, and while his store doesn’t focus primarily on CrossFit, the category is where he sees the biggest volume sales. The used and refurbished equipment store owner said it crossed his mind two years ago that CrossFit might be a passing fad, but now doesn’t think that’s the case.

“There is not a day that goes by that we don’t at least get an inquiry about something pertaining to CrossFit,” Marbel said. Equipment sales for the category “really went crazy for us. It’s been a great thing for us, an incredible thing. The other thing it’s done is really filled in the gap during the slow months of the year.”

Banasky said specialty retailers should start taking advantage of the boom. Of course, he said, his new APE line is perfect because the products aren’t as expensive as the cages, or rigs, that other companies offer.

Banasky said all it takes is a little education to get retailers started on the right road to selling these products. It’s going to take some research and a bit of a different marketing approach, he said, but it’s worth the investment.

Roger Bates, president of LifeCore, said retailers should find out what the athletes in this category want and then offer that in their stores.

“At each CrossFit box you have 200 or more members that will one day need to buy something for their home fitness needs,” Bates told SNEWS.

And you’re where they’re going to end up and now there are more than accessories to offer them.