February 27, 2012 / 5:09 AM / 7 years ago

Fitness DVDs remain hale and hardly over the hill

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Despite the brave new workout world of streaming videos and smart phone exercise apps, the old-fangled fitness DVD has never been in better shape.

As people seek to live healthier, it remains the go-to workout aid for many who like their exercise accessible, inexpensive and private, according to a recent report.

“Consumers are getting more and more advice from doctors to exercise,” said Agata Kaczanowska, industry analyst for IBIS, which conducted a market research study of the $264 million-dollar fitness DVD industry.

Nearly one-third of Americans who visited a healthcare professional in 2010 were advised to exercise, she explained.

“And a lot of these first-time workout people are uncomfortable going to gym or working out in public.”

So while movie DVDs are generally considered to be on life support, IBIS found that fitness DVD production revenue climbed at an 11.2 percent annualized pace in the five years to 2012.

The report, which gathers information from market trends, industry sources and government figures forecasts that the industry will grow 9.8 percent in the next five years.

Kaczanowska said 18 to 34 year-olds account for a healthy 35 percent of fitness DVD sales, followed by 35 to 50 year-olds at 33 percent. People 55 and over account for 20 percent.

The industry is even beginning to target childhood fitness.

“With the focus on childhood obesity, there’s a push for parents to convince their children to exercise more, so I really do see that picking up as a trend,” she said.

Inexpensive and widely available, fitness DVDs thrived in the recession. Kaczanowska expects them to weather the recovery well, despite increased competition, because the number of people told to exercise will increase.

“There will be growth in the symbiotic relationships between online viewers and DVD exercisers,” she said. “A lot of companies are using online videos to promote their DVDs.”

Jill Ross, co-owner of Collage Video, has been marketing fitness DVDs to consumers for 25 years. She said even when DVD technology was on its way in, fitness customers were among the last to embrace it.

“Women and men who use fitness DVDs tend to have a large library of them,” she explained. “They typically rotate a dozen over the course of a couple of weeks.”

Those people, she said, are more likely to stick with the same format. And why change when the exercise offerings are forever expanding?

“Whatever you’re interested in, whether it’s classical barre or intense cardio, there’s a DVD,” she said, along with an instructor to suit every taste.

“Jillian Michaels (former trainer on TV’s “Biggest Loser) is pretty intense. She shouts at people, but they like her,” Ross said. “Leslie Sansone is more of a girl-next-door type. She does walking programs: two, three-mile walks, and people will buy every one of them.”

Currently selling well, Ross said, is anything with ballet in it, interval workouts, that combine aerobics and toning, and interval workouts alternating short segments of time.

“Women in particular are looking for more dumbbell exercises for bone strength,” she said.

Ross said while major manufacturers maintain high standards, some videos are still produced without sufficient thought to their home market; missteps can range from doing complicated moves with little or no instruction to travelling 40 feet across a gym floor.

“How many people do you know who have a 40-foot (12-meter) living room?” she said. “We try not to carry those.”

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