Are Supermarket Gyms the Next Big Thing?

Grocery stores are getting into the fitness game to attract customers, trend watchers note.

You could probably form an argument, if you were of a mind to, that grocery shopping is a kind of exercise: Stretching to reach for product on a high shelf; straining to push a laden shopping cart; taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths when someone cuts in front of you in the check-out line – these all have to count for something, right?

Well, sure, but for those who are looking for a more intense workout on their next trip to the supermarket, a new trend is apparently taking hold: gyms and yoga classes right there on the grocery-store premises – just a few steps from where you buy your pantry items and produce.

The Midwestern supermarket chain Hy-Vee has hooked up with the fitness company OrangeTheory, to build high-intensity training gym adjacent to and within to two of its stores. A New Jersey ShopRite is offering yoga and Zumba classes at its in-store fitness studio. And Whole Foods provides barre, spinning and yoga classes on the roof of its flagship store in Austin, Texas.

“As competition in the grocery industry stiffens, these stores hope to attract time-strapped shoppers by creating convenient experiences that shoppers can't replicate online,” CNN noted in a recent business-trend piece. “Grocery stores see an opening in the surging fitness industry, one of the rare business areas that has not been cannibalized by Amazon.”

Come for the downward dog and pick up some dog food on the way out, the thinking seems to be. Stop in for a spin class and snag some detergent for the spin cycle before you head home to hit the shower. Move to the beat in Zumba and grab a dozen eggs to beat for breakfast in the morning.

OK, I’m pushing it … but the idea is clearly that if people come to sweat, they may also take the opportunity to shop. And probably no one ever said Pilates and produce don’t mix.

"Grocers are understanding that to bring people back in store they must create these activities," Jamie Sabat, director of trends and consumer forecasting at the consulting company Streetsense, told CNN. "They want to create this hangout factor in the store."

Makes sense – and it’s a clever way to get customers to work up a hunger (and thirst), too. Gotta replenish those calories …

Photo: iStock

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