GYM LINES TAKING SHAPE

Byline: Alev Aktar

NEW YORK — The quest for buns of steel and killer abs has produced a population of fitness addicts. Now, several major health clubs, realizing they have a captive audience, are looking to snare more workout dollars by launching their own beauty brands.
This fall, the New York-based Crunch and Equinox chains are introducing lines that will be sold exclusively in their clubs. Crunch’s hair and body collection has a sporty positioning, colorful packaging and value prices, while the Equinox skin care range has a spa slant, specific claims regarding cosmetic benefits, sleek gray and white containers and prestige price points.
Meanwhile, the Venice, Calif.-based Gold’s Gym is on the verge of signing with a licensee to produce a range of toiletries, hair care, skin care and aromatherapy priced along the lines of Body Shop, according to Krista Newberry, director of product licensing at Gold’s Gym International Inc.
The products are scheduled to be launched internationally next spring in some 350 Gold’s Gym pro shops as well as other doors, which could include sports specialty stores, moderate department stores and niche outlets such as General Nutrition Center.
Not to be left out, The Sports Club Co., a Los Angeles firm, is also interested in the category, according to a spokeswoman. The Sports Club co-owns and operates Reebok Sports Club/New York in conjunction with the footwear and apparel manufacturer and runs The Sports Club/L.A. and The Sports Club/Irvine, in addition to other centers around the country.
The new gym lines could be viewed as an extension of the sports scent trend, which has included the successful launch of Ralph Lauren’s Polo Sport and Polo Sport Woman and the upcoming introductions of Liz Sport and Claiborne Sport.
However, for Kenneth Landis, president of the newly formed Crunch Cosmetics division of Crunch, the lines marketed by gyms offer something extra.
“Crunch Care was developed in our gyms in conjunction with Crunch trainers, members and staff. This gives it certain credibility. The [sport] lines out there don’t have the authenticity,” he claimed, adding that New York dermatologist Dr. Bruce Katz, who he said works out regularly, helped develop the formulas.
Crunch and Equinox said they intend to refine their brands based on feedback from club members, then roll the products out to wider distribution next year. Crunch is considering an athletic specialty store network, while Equinox is looking at a salon and specialty store distribution.
Crunch Care makes its debut in mid-September in the chain’s five gyms in New York and at its one Los Angeles unit. (Crunch opened a club in Tokyo last week, but that location will not receive the products initially.)
The line will be rounded out with several facial-care products in October and nutritional supplements and energy shakes, drinks and bars next year.
Landis declined to talk numbers, but industry sources estimate the 10-product Crunch line could rack up $1 million at retail in its first year in just six U.S. gyms.
Equinox will start by launching the Equinox Vitamin System in mid-September, then follow with the Equinox Skin Care System in November.
Equinox co-owner Lavinia Errico also declined to discuss sales targets, but sources estimate the 23-product skin care range could generate $400,000 at retail in its first year at the three top Equinox gyms. It will be in six gyms total.
The Crunch Care products were created for people who sweat and shower frequently and suffer from dry skin, itchy scalp and body acne, among other things. To combat these problems, many of the products are formulated with tea tree oil, which purportedly inhibits the proliferation of bacteria, and antioxidant vitamins, which moisturize the skin.
A foot balm, for example, contains antiseptic tea tree oil and the moisturizing vitamins A and E, as well as peppermint oil and menthol to cool the skin and stimulate blood circulation and shea butter to moisturize and protect the skin.
The line also includes shampoo and finishing rinse, bath and shower gel, bath soak, exfoliating and non-exfoliating soaps, spray-on body lotion, body mist, cooling bi-polar gel and liquid powder and a carrying case that’s washable and leak-proof. Most of the products are available in two light unisex fragrances, “calming” or “uplifting.”
Prices range from $3.95 for a 5-oz. soap to $15 for a 12-oz. bath soak.
The products are packaged in portable, leak-proof plastic containers designed by Studio Seireeni, Los Angeles. Names such as Blu Kul for the cooling gel and Slip ‘n Slide for the shower gel were chosen because “Crunch has an attitude,” according to Landis.
That same edge is evident in the point-of-sale promotional material, also done by Seireeni. Fuchsia and yellow easel cards showing a portrait of Richard Nixon bear the tag line, “For people who sweat.” Other promotional elements include leaflets, posters, retail windows and sampling, and Landis said that print advertising is a possibility after the line is rolled out nationally.
Crunch Care will be displayed in freestanding lockers in the retail areas at the front of Crunch gyms. It will also be sold over the phone and via Crunch’s Web site.
In contrast, the Equinox line is mostly facial treatment that was developed by Errico following market research in the gyms. Many of the products contain glycolic acid, which is said to smooth fine lines and brighten the complexion, or vitamin C, which helps to firm the skin and protect it from environmental damage.
“We wanted to bring doctor-type products with cosmetic benefits plus packaging that’s special,” noted Errico, who worked at Lancome and Fred Hayman before starting Equinox in 1991 with two brothers.
There are four cleansers, three toners, four moisturizers, two masks, two tea tree oil anti-acne products, vitamin C eye gel, eye contour cream, eye makeup remover, body gel, body moisturizer, shaving cream and two SPF 30 sunscreens.
Prices range between $12 for a 4-oz. eye makeup remover and $60 for a 6-oz. SPF 15 vitamin C moisturizer.
The line was developed in part for use at the Equinox spas inside the company’s gyms, which offer a menu of facials, body treatments and massages. Products will be used and sold at the spas as well as at the pro shops in the gyms.
The line will be supported by a TV ad breaking on cable in October, as well as by a direct mail campaign.
Equinox Vitamin System, the nutritional supplements that will be launched next month, consists of 28 vitamins divided into four categories: athletic performance, weight reduction, better health, and look, which is for hair and skin. On average, the supplements are priced at $24 for a bottle of 60.

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