Due to Corona: Home fitness equipment is more popular than ever, but will the boom continue?

The sale of exercise bikes boomed in times of Corona. However, according to industry representatives, the sports business in its own four walls will soon weaken.

For this year, a level of sales like that of 2019 and therefore like before the pandemic is expected, said the managing director of the device manufacturer Christopeit de Velbert (NRW), Marco Schenkelberg.

That would be a big drawback, because according to the head of the company, annual sales in 2021 were 40 percent higher than in 2019. He did not give absolute figures.

The German Industry Association for Fitness and Health (DIFG) also expects weaker business in 2022.

The niche industry of appliance manufacturers has weathered the pandemic brilliantly so far. According to a DIFG estimate, individuals spent €250 million on sports equipment in German specialty stores in 2019, €300 million in 2020 and even €350 million in 2021.

In addition to Christopeit, other companies have also benefited from the boom. Neu-Ulm-based Hammer Sport, for example, more than quintupled its profits in the financial year ending March 2021 to €8.7 million.

The reason for the boom is obvious: In the time of Corona, fitness studios were temporarily closed, but access is currently only possible under strict Corona regulations.

Many people still wanted to work out and bought a treadmill, rowing machine, stepper, or spinning bike to take home.

The demand was much greater than the supply. Christopeit’s boss, Schenkelberg, reports that he could have sold twice as many, but his stock was not enough for that. Supply chain problems also plagued this industry.

The business is changing due to the pandemic

And how does it continue? “Demand will certainly drop in 2022, as many have just bought new devices,” Ulrich Kürschner, DIFG board member, suspects.

“Now people want to travel again, go to restaurants and buy textiles. Therefore, the investment volume is more selective, because it is distributed again”, said Schenkelberg, explaining the muted expectations.

Digitization is also making its way into this market segment. Virtual network devices are very popular, says a spokeswoman for electronics retail chain MediaMarktSaturn.

An example of this is the Berlin high-tech company Vaha. It sells a large mirror screen displaying a digital personal trainer. According to the head of the company, Valerie Bures, Vaha’s business recovered considerably last year and the upward trend is expected to continue in 2022. She does not give exact numbers.

Does training at home replace a visit to the gym? Of course not, say the lines of gym operators. The founder of boutique fitness studio Becycle, Gundula Cöllen-Sorger, reports a “run” of home fitness equipment in the first closing of 2020.

In the meantime, however, you often hear from customers that these devices are hardly used and have now become coat racks. It brings people back to school.

“They miss their community and don’t want to train alone at home anymore,” says Cöllen-Sorger. Business in January has been much better than expected so far.


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