Gym resurgence an opportunity for supermarkets

Articles
May 04, 2009

Gym resurgence an opportunity for supermarkets

If recession-driven job loss has a silver lining, it is the way it motivates some Americans to take charge of their level of fitness. With excess time available, job interviews at low ebb, and the personal drive to create something positive despite their current career stalls, people are turning to the gym. If they can’t control their money flow and professional progress in the short-term, at least they can make themselves fitter, sustain health, and prepare well to project a high-energy image when their opportunities do arise. Weight lifting, running and agility exercises seem to be a superior way to cope with recession stress—rather than succumb to severe anxiety or depression, mood swings, binge eating, too little or too much sleep, alcohol or drug abuse, or violence. Other positive behavior channels include hobbies, therapy, home maintenance, recreational athletics, or more interaction with friends and families. The federal government recognizes the health risks of the negative economy: A guide called Getting Through Tough Economic Times, issued by the HHS (The Department of Health and Human Services) branch Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, suggests ways to cope and to be alert to dangers in others. “People are directly impacted by what’s happening in the economy, and those who were vulnerable to begin with can get tipped over,” said Jeffrey Rossman, director of life management at Canyon Ranch, Lenox, MA, and an advisor to Rodale.com.

If recession-driven job loss has a silver lining, it is the way it motivates some Americans to take charge of their level of fitness.

With excess time available, job interviews at low ebb, and the personal drive to create something positive despite their current career stalls, people are turning to the gym. If they can’t control their money flow and professional progress in the short-term, at least they can make themselves fitter, sustain health, and prepare well to project a high-energy image when their opportunities do arise.

Weight lifting, running and agility exercises seem to be a superior way to cope with recession stress—rather than succumb to severe anxiety or depression, mood swings, binge eating, too little or too much sleep, alcohol or drug abuse, or violence. Other positive behavior channels include hobbies, therapy, home maintenance, recreational athletics, or more interaction with friends and families.

The federal government recognizes the health risks of the negative economy: A guide called Getting Through Tough Economic Times, issued by the HHS (The Department of Health and Human Services) branch Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, suggests ways to cope and to be alert to dangers in others.

“People are directly impacted by what’s happening in the economy, and those who were vulnerable to begin with can get tipped over,” said Jeffrey Rossman, director of life management at Canyon Ranch, Lenox, MA, and an advisor to Rodale.com.

One tip cited by Rodale: Take control of what you can.

A Rodale survey of its readers in January found that 84% believe that now is an optimal time to invest in their health, and 97% are maintaining or raising their level of healthful eating.. The same or more time in the gym (cited by 68%) is one replacement for travel and entertainment spending. The gym and fitness-club market will grow 2.2% to $24.3 billion, research firm IBISWorld Inc. told Bloomberg News recently. “Health and wellness tends to be a little bit more resistant to sharp declines,” said IBISWorld senior analyst George Van Horn.

This trend not only signals our national resilience. It underlies opportunities for food stores to offer fitness and wellness programs with neighborhood gyms, educate consumers about nutrition and exercise, and prove through positive action that they care about their shoppers in ways beyond product sales. It’s the kind of store branding that can be reinforced every time a shopper looks in the mirror.