Amit Sinha has been working in the food and beverage industry for more than 10 years. Currently, he is working at Watson Inc. as a process innovation engineer. He has a master of science in chemical engineering from University of South Carolina along with an MBA in marketing from Regis University. He has an innate curiosity to learn about new foods and ingredients, and enjoys CrossFit and other fitness-related events.
Today, working out is a huge part of many people’s lives. No matter the activity — from CrossFit to weight training to yoga to Zumba — people want to stay healthy. The drive to get that toned look and get those tight abs requires both hard work at the gym and good food to work synergistically.
Often people believe supplements and various products can aid in achieving the results they seek. They can, but not without the proper diet and exercise. Businesses know that consumers want to achieve results and therefore they try to offer avenues to reach out to them via offering personal training, workout plans and more. Another way businesses reach out to consumers is via supplements and other fitness products available in gyms around the country.
Similar to warehouse clubs testing samples of new food products on weekend shoppers, different health, fitness, and wellness companies are testing their products at CrossFit gyms around the country. Each new product launched at the gym will get many eyeballs, and manufacturers are hopeful to convert CrossFitters to product testers — and eventually regular customers who recommend their product within the community. Kill Cliff and FitAID found success through product testing at CrossFit gyms. If the fitness community embraces a product, it is more likely to be successful not just within that fitness community, but also, with word-of-mouth, will gain traction in others.
Similarly, globo gyms like LA Fitness and Crunch Fitness have many products available at their facility via a protein bar/shake section or at membership counters where patrons can try the latest whey bar, protein shake or pre-workout shake. Having tried a plethora of options at various gyms around the country, my favorite go-to protein shakes immediately became shakes from Optimum Nutrition and Muscle Pharm. These businesses noticed the sales of these products, and quickly began marketing to both the casual workout fanatic as well the bodybuilder.
Fitness equipment brands have been capitalizing on this marketing opportunity for years. Reebok is one the most influential brands in the country. It was first to capitalize on marketing products directly to the CrossFit community, there are now multiple versions of the Nano shoe line, as well as apparel that goes with it. Hoping to capture some of that huge success, Nike too released the Metcon shoe line, targeting the same athlete. Both brands are equally embraced in the community and their products are available to any fitness enthusiast via their websites. Both Reebok and Nike are successful with their products because they take into account user feedback regarding performance with the shoes and fabric during a workout—all of which is important when transitioning from one movement to the next. On the at-home workout equipment side, Rogue Fitness and Bear KompleX can provide items like barbells, plates, belts and grips to name a few. Inevitably, the success of these fitness companies only fueled the growth of other product testing (foods and supplements) at gyms.
Other protein brands, including SFH (Stronger Faster Healthier) protein and Progenex — both of which provide the clean nourishment sought by athletes before and after a workout — have become staples in the CrossFit community. Why are these products successful? The main reason is that the companies take feedback from consumers and competitive athletes into account in developing the next generation or next line of the product. This is key, as they have willing consumers in a limited pool that they can reach out to for testing and feedback.
Every business wants to test products before going to market, but may not have a large marketing budget or a ready audience. But gym-goers tend to be interested in healthy items and want to know about products, plus a partnership with a gym helps a brand start small. Every time that I have tried a new product from a CrossFit gym, I have always had the opportunity to learn about it from that brand, giving me more faith in their product line and its benefits for me.
While there are many opportunities to use gyms as a testing ground, it’s important to note that not all gym patrons are there for the same reasons. Some may be looking for weight loss, while others are looking to bulk up or just remain active. The impact of the ketogenic diet can be seen all over social media. The diet itself is considered a lifestyle change by many, while others consider it a fad. Many products today however cater to keto diets like keto bars, MCT Oil powders and protein powders. Many gyms now also associate with online food delivery services like Factor 75, Ice Age Meals, Keto Fridge and Kettlebell Kitchen — all serving fresh foods with fresh ingredients that can be heated and eaten, with no cooking needed. The macronutrients are excellent and can aid in supplementing the diet of someone with an active lifestyle.
Personalized nutrition is becoming another way to attract athletes. A few athletes from CrossFit and bodybuilding competitions have been endorsing websites like Habit and Inside Tracker because knowing the relationship between nutrients and exercise can allow an athlete to effectively train and excel at their chosen sport. With success seen in sports training with personalized nutrition, similar personalized nutritional products could benefit yoga and dance studio members as they too need to dial in their nutrition to perform at their optimal level.
The market is there for new health and wellness products. Those products just need to find their audience, which is closer than they may think.