The Rise Of The Home Gym

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

In the fitness world 2020 will forever be remembered as The Year of the Home Gym. World wide as soon as lockdown became the go to measure to stop the spread of COVID-19, gym equipment and toilet paper became the two hottest commodities in Australia.

People’s priorities were to be able to wipe themselves and work out! Companies like Uber Eats and Youfoodz were charged with taking care of the food while gym junkies and fitness freaks alike scoured Facebook Marketplace for second hand gym equipment to kit out their makeshift home gym setups with rusty, tattered equipment which was now apparently worth its weight in gold.

The Perfect Storm

Seriously, before COVID the price of weights per kilo was around $2 second hand with an RRP of around $4 brand new. During COVID the price shot up to $10 per kilo on the marketplace even though retailers had them for around $6. If you had a ratty old 20kg kettlebell you could expect to get $200 for it and about 40 DM’s per hour you had the ad active.

Then, the perfect storm just happened to occur. In stepped the Australian Government with Instant Asset Write Off incentives for businesses. All of a sudden the newly out of work gym owners saw had the perfect opportunity to refresh their equipment, get paid top dollar for their old equipment and get a sweet tax break in the process.

The Marketplace was flooded with ads for “commercial grade” equipment, used for years and just under the RRP value of the new version.

Everything from weight plates and barbells to squat racks, pin loaded machines and flooring became available second hand to help you build your perfect gym.

Then China came back online.

container ship, probably full of gym equipment
Pictured: Fitness equipment making its way to Australia

An Entrepreneur’s Wet Dream

A wise friend once told me that one businesses disaster is another businesses golden opportunity. This couldn’t have been truer for Home Gym Marketplace snakes and Shopify savvy entrepreneurs.

It’s a well known fact that China manufactures most of the world’s stuff. This is especially true with regards to fitness equipment. Australia might produce more iron ore than anyone else in the world but it’s China who turns it into stuff and sells it right back to us.

When China came back online they were inundated with orders from Australian businesses for gym equipment. Not just from existing businesses, but COVID businesses as well. All desperate to capitalise on the booming Home Gym market.

Not knowing how long restrictions and gym closures would be in place for quite a few new suppliers of gym equipment sprung up. Their ads on Facebook pointing to hastily thrown together Shopify stores with identical stock images of equipment, offering pre-order discounts in the hope they could sell a containers worth of stock before it landed and went to the 3PL facility. Effectively transferring all of the risk to their desperate, unwitting customers and making some good coin while doing so.

The DIY’ers sprung up on the Facebook Marketplace, making squat racks and weights from concrete and pipe and some people actually kitted out their yards with makeshift gyms, mimicking African outdoor gyms you see on YouTube. Other low on work tradies managed to make use of their access to the Bunnings Trade section and assembled racks for people out of wood.

A few months of this had people desperate. The people wanted their gym’s back. Demand was so high people were unsure whether they’d be able to get anything from their favourite suppliers again! Thankfully the Big Boys came to our rescue as their containers started rolling in through the ports.

Home Gym Heroes

The likes of Rogue, who have a huge, established following in the home gym world, along with long time Australian companies like Sam’s Fitness, Verve and Aussie Strength had been listening to the newfound needs of these new customers in the market.

Smarter storage solutions that held plates, barbells and kettlebells became available at reasonable prices. Half racks, full racks, folding racks, adjustable dumbbell sets and decent quality Olympic plates once again became available at reasonable prices albeit selling out within 24hrs most of the time.

Meanwhile companies like Loaded Lifting and Iron Truth Barbell recognised that quality products could be found and sold at decent prices.

Stability had returned, people were getting products and kitting out their home gyms with relative ease.

home gym setup covid

Home Gym Villains

Where there are heroes there are villains. If it’s possible to make a quick buck at the expense of screwing some people over you can rest assured, someone will step up and say “It’s better to be the hammer than the nail” and liberate some hard earned money from people’s pockets.

If necessity is the mother of all invention, desperation must be the father of greed.

Scour the Home Gym pages on Facebook and you’ll find post after post asking others if they’ve dealt with XYZ Company because they ordered weight plates in May 2020 and still haven’t gotten them. There’s even Facebook groups set up for customers of certain companies who are out for thousands of dollars after they placed pre-orders for stock that never arrived.

Other companies fell victim to logistics issues. Trusting the wrong company with your product, even if you’re manufacturing locally, can spell the end for you and ruin your reputation.

The Future Fitness

Gyms have reopened without the need to be staffed 24hrs. The need for sanitation practices, check-in and social distancing is still mandatory but we’re now seeing that attendance is down due to venue limits. Many in the general public have kept memberships on hold as long as possible due to uncertainty but it can’t continue like this.

What does the future of fitness look like? Will there be a place in the market for gyms considering the meteoric rise of the Home Gym in 2020?

With containers flowing through ports with minimal delays and the Governments apparent commitment to keep the economy running it’s likely the home gym market will rival the commercial gym market for some time to come.

Only time will tell whether the vaccine roll out makes a difference, but one thing is certain – Fitness Fanatics will always find a way to work out.