Fitness Industry Roundup: Suppliers Step Up

    Brands behind exercise equipment, obstacle course races, and low-carb beer are stepping up to help the industry however they can as the coronavirus outbreak disrupts daily life.

    In difficult situations, it’s imperative to search for opportunities that benefit the industry as a whole.

    In the last Fitness Industry Roundup, we saw gyms transform their facilities into backup medical centers, owners creating campaigns to give back to the community, and novel ways to support first responders.

    In today’s edition, we would like to highlight a few of the many companies that are stepping up to keep the community active, support local health clubs and their employees, and provide personal protective equipment for nurses and doctors on the front lines.

    Life Fitness Helps Local Communities by Sewing Masks

    Industry news life fitness employees sewing mask column

    Life Fitness is going above and beyond their mission statement of “inspiring healthier lives” during these challenging times. Two workers at its Owatonna, MN, manufacturing facility, Kris Morgan and Lisa Boyd, saw a need to start sewing masks for local hospitals. “Kris and I initially talked about our efforts outside of work and then we were given the opportunity to make the masks in-house,” Boyd said. The Owatonna factory has the material to make approximately 2,000 masks, the blog stated. “We’ve donated masks to our local hospital, Allina Health, as well as several assisted living facilities,” Morgan said. What originally started as a weekend volunteer project kickstarted an initiative to provide masks for people and organizations in need and has inspired other facilities to join in. A Life Fitness plant in Hungary is working toward a goal of making 5,000 masks to send to the city of Kiskőrös to help provide masks for all of the residents.

    Read more about how Life Fitness is helping the community.

    Michelob Ultra Looks Out for Gyms, Personal Trainers

    Michelob Ultra is further aligning itself with the fitness industry by releasing a video that encourages gym-goers to continue to support their clubs while they are closed. The beer company is also providing livestream workouts while raising money for health club workers facing financial hardships, according to a Mobile Marketer article. The company will livestream on their social media channels every Thursday. Their first online workout featured DJ Steve Aoki and trainers from 305 Fitness. Viewers are able to give virtual tips, which will be matched up to $7,500 a week by Michelob Ultra and supplement maker Optimum Nutrition. Each class in the "Movement by Michelob Ultra Live" series will end with a virtual happy hour, giving viewers the chance to ask instructors questions about wellness and fitness.

    Read on about Michelob Ultra’s online workouts.

    New Balance Switches Gears from Shoes to Masks

    As the coronavirus outbreak intensified, New Balance’s Massachusetts factory shifted gears from making shoes to making face masks for New England hospitals. A small team of 50 people at their Lawrence, MA, factory and another in Norridgewock, ME, where another 70 employees are working, are striving to produce 100,000 face masks per week. The company collaborated with hospitals and MIT to create a final product that consists of a five-ply laminated fabric as the covering of the mask and elastic shoelaces as the adjustable straps, ensuring good filtration and fit for users. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Dave Wheeler, the company’s executive vice president of global supply chain, said, “It is very quick. … Sewing does take quite a bit longer. Not only is it not good for the performance of a mask, but it is much quicker. It’s one pass through the heat press and out the other side.” New Balance is hoping to expand beyond creating face masks and is looking into producing shields, gowns, and foot coverings.

    Read more about what New Balance is doing.

    Extreme Wellness Brand Launches Gym Protection Project

    Spartan is offering one million gym members free event entries if they continue to pay membership dues during COVID-19 outbreak-related closures, the company announced in an April 15 press release. As part of this initiative to keep health clubs afloat, gym members who sign up can gain free entry to a Spartan, Tough Mudder, or DEKAFIT event in the 2020 or 2021 season. “Right now there is no more important time to unify and connect the fitness industry,” said Spartan Founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “Thousands of fitness businesses and professionals across the country are at risk of losing their facilities and livelihoods, and we want to do everything in our power to prevent that from happening.” The brand also created Spartan Unbreakable, a 24/7 stream of live and on-demand at-home workouts and wellness content.

    Industry news woman obstacle course race column

    Learn more about Spartan’s new initiatives.

    Rogue Fitness is Supporting the Local Economy in Multiple Ways

    Rogue Fitness, based in Columbus, OH, is shifting some of its production from fitness equipment to medical supplies, according to an article in Columbus Business First. They are starting with masks, but also plan to make gowns, shields, and ventilators. The company purchased three industrial 3D printers to begin production. Rogue also hired 100 new employees and raised the starting wage to $17 an hour from $15 an hour. "We know that many people in Ohio are losing their jobs and we want to help," owner Bill Henniger wrote on the company’s Facebook page. Not only are they helping the local economy with hiring and providing medical supplies, but they are also offering 500 meals for employees for two weeks from local restaurants, which will help keep them in business.

    Read more about what Rogue is doing here.

    Fitness Band Company Partners with Scientists to Aid in Research

    Boston-based WHOOP, whose fitness strap-band tracks users’ sleep, recovery, and heart-rate data, says their algorithm that tracks respiratory rates can give researchers clues into the coronavirus pandemic. “Respiratory rate appears to be a specific indicator of COVID-19,” Founder Will Ahmed told “It looks like everyone who reports COVID-19, and being sick due to it, has an elevated respiratory rate two-three days before they actually feel symptoms.” WHOOP says respiratory signals can indicate an illness possibly up to 48 hours before symptoms occur. The company has partnered with CQUniversity in Australia and the Cleveland Clinic to conduct research gathered from “hundreds” of band users who say they’ve had COVID-19.

    Read more about WHOOP’s idea.

    Share with us what your local businesses are doing to contribute during these trying times.

    Author avatar

    IHRSA Staff @IHRSA

    This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.