Flexing Their Muscles: Retailers Redesign Fitness Experience

Many established brands are finding that there are creative business opportunities at the intersection of fitness and retail.

Nike+ Run Clubs are cropping up all over the globe, including in Rio de Janeiro, where participants make the most of the city’s stunning views.

Courtesy Nike

The fact that more and more people are showing up for work in their yoga pants marks more than the growing popularity of athleisure wear—it also means fitness is big business. A visit to the gym might still equal drudgery for some, but for others it’s more than a means of getting fit: It’s an entire lifestyle and community.

The astronomically popular Nike+ Run Clubs have proved to be a valuable branding exercise for the company. You need only a pair of running shoes to join (Swoosh optional but, of course, encouraged), and the clubs bring runners together across the globe via the Nike+ Running and Nike+ Training Club apps. Aside from hawking Nike’s own expansive fitness apparel range, the initiative has also enabled the sportswear giant to expand its retail reach via collaborations with Apple, Spotify, and Garmin.

The travel industry has also made sure to capitalize on the retailization of fitness. EVEN Hotels, part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, promotes its properties as wellness destinations that allow health-conscious travelers to keep up their regimens while away from home. In addition to the communal fitness studios and classes throughout the hotels, guest rooms are equipped with personal training zones and feature cork flooring and a variety of personal exercise equipment, such as yoga mats and pull-up bars, as well as training videos. The hotels also offer customized menus, freshly prepared meals for particular diets, and healthy grab-and-go items. On the more luxurious end of the travel scale, high-end gym giant Equinox plans to open its first hotel, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, in New York in 2018.

As calorie-counting lifestyles increasingly become the norm—spinning classes at IMAX theaters are next on the horizon— it seems likely that this crossover of retail and fitness is bound for ever more creative interpretations.

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