Where did all the dumbbells go?

By Don Coble Managing Editor
Posted 1/6/21

ORANGE PARK – It was tough finding toilet paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been even tougher finding dumbbells and weights.

For months, health officials have urged residents to stay …

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Where did all the dumbbells go?


ORANGE PARK – It was tough finding toilet paper during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been even tougher finding dumbbells and weights.

For months, health officials have urged residents to stay home to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus. For millions, that meant moving – or starting – their workout routine to home.

And just like the run on two-ply tissue, shelves have been stripped of a lot of home workout equipment, especially heavier dumbbells.

“It’s been crazy,” said Jon Begue at XTraining Premium Fitness Equipment. “It doesn’t matter where they’re coming from, we’re not 100% sure when we’ll get any of them in.”

Smaller three, five and 10-pound dumbbells are still available, but the more-popular 15-, 20-, 25-, 35- and 50-pound weights are scarce. Many weights for barbells also have become as hard to find as kale at a monster truck show.

“When the gyms closed, people started working out at home,” Begue said. “Dumbbells are the No. 1 thing for a home gym. It didn’t take long for them to disappear. There was a big run on them. Now there’s a big demand for them, but not much supply.”

The more people were forced to stay home, the more they wanted to get back in shape. That created a demand for fitness equipment that overwhelmed the industry.

Premium Fitness Equipment sells exercise and workout equipment to many of the local gymnasiums and fitness centers, as well as the general public. The demand put the business in the difficult position of being selective on who received the last few pieces of equipment.

“Between the gyms [that] we have a great relationship with and all of the new customers we got, we had to play favorites, which isn’t fair,” Begue said. “Business is good. We sold a lot of our equipment on Black Friday. As far as New Year’s resolutions, not as much. People were already set in their workout plans.”

Begue said the three most-popular items requested – and backordered – are bumpers (barbell weights), bars, benches and dumbbells.

Premium Fitness isn’t the only store with empty shelves. The weight racks at Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have been picked clean. Academy Sports + Outdoors is out of all but five-pound dumbbells on its online site. Most dumbbells and kettlebells listed on Amazon include a “Currently Unavailable” label.

So what is a health-minded homebody supposed to do? An empty gallon jug of sand weighs less than 13 pounds. A concrete cinder block weighs between 30-35 pounds. Others have tried lifting backpacks filled with cans or books, large bags of pet food or cans of paint. Plus, a towel can be used as a resistance band to stretch your shoulders and arms.

Desperate times still require desperate responses.

The important thing is to still find ways to work out. Whether you were lucky enough to be ahead of the surge for dumbbells or you’re forced to lug around a bag of rocks, don’t give up. The only investment guaranteed to pay off is when you invest in yourself.

Many are still committed to getting back in shape and getting rid of those pandemic pounds. COVID-19 required adjustments by everyone. Elastic straps are perfect for stretching. Climbing stairs is a good way to work on cardio and leg muscles. You can jump rope, take walks holding small weights in each hand and dance. The old standards like pushups, sit-ups and jumping jacks never go out of style.

Dumbbells certainly made it easier and more convenient. Getting healthy, however, isn’t always about ease and convenience. It’s about hard work. And it requires adaptation.

“Most of the customers have been amazing,” Begue said. “They understand the situation. They take what they can get. They’ve learned to make due.”

Which proves there’s more than one way to break a sweat.


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