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Are you planning to import gym, health or fitness products? Then keep reading, to learn more about how you can find the right supplier and relevant product regulations.
We also cover trade shows in the fitness space, MOQ requirements and how you can make sure that you get the quality right – regardless of whether you’re importing protein bars or treadmills.
How do I find a qualified Gym & Fitness product manufacturer in China?
There are thousands of suppliers in the gym and fitness space the two largest supplier directories, Alibaba.com and Globalsources.com.
First, you want to avoid trading companies, which tend to offer all sorts of products. For example, if you find a supplier claiming to sell foam rollers, treadmills and protein powder, you can be sure you’re dealing with a trading company or wholesaler.
So, why should you stay away from trading companies or wholesaler when importing fitness and health products?
There are a few reasons. But, the main one is that traders cannot ensure comply with overseas product regulations, such as REACH or California Prop 65. I will get back to that in a bit
Instead, you should look for suppliers that are specialized. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they must focus on one single product.
For example, a factory can make both yoga mats and foam rollers.
Below follows an overview of common supplier categories:
- Gym Accessories
- Dumbbells & Weights
- Gym Machines
- Motorized Treadmills
- Resistance Bands
- EVA Foam Rollers
- Yoga Mats
- Fitness Trackers
- Nutrition & Supplements
- Protein Shakers
- Water Bottles
- Yoga Wear / Compression Wear
Yet, within each of these categories, you may find hundreds of suppliers. Searching for ‘Foam Rollers’ on Alibaba.com results in 80,433 products, from 1,640 suppliers.
The same search on Globalsources.com results in 18,438 products, from 1,132 suppliers.
With thousands of suppliers for foam rollers alone, how can you identify those that are qualified and somewhat reliable?
I suggest that you look at the following factors.
- Product scope
- Registered capital
- Product test reports (i.e., CA Prop 65 or REACH)
- Quality management system
- CSR (i.e., Sedex or BSCI)
Keep in mind that prices and MOQ requirements specified on Alibaba, and other directories, are often inaccurate. Hence, don’t consider them when selecting supplier.
Product regulations for Gym & Fitness products
As with all products, importers are responsible for ensuring compliance with all safety standards, labeling requirements and document requirements.
Gym Machines (Electronic)
All electronic products must comply with electrical safety regulations. In the EU, this include the Low Voltage Directive, EMC and RoHS.
In the US, importers must comply with FCC Part 15, which regulates radio communication. There are also voluntary UL (Underwriter Laboratories) standards.
Gym Machines (Manual)
There are few regulations in place that apply specifically to gym machines and other equipment. That being said, even in the cases when there are no specific standards in place – it’s still up to the importer to ensure that the product is safe to use.
This is why there are regulations such as the General Product Safety Directive, as regulators cannot implement safety standards for all types of products that enter the market.
As such, it’s crucial to properly test gym equipment, and assess potential hazards, before importing from Asia.
If an imported product injures a user, you will certainly face a forced recall. Gym equipment shall also carry easy to understand user instructions and warning signs.
That said, there are some regulations in place already, such as Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations in the United Kingdom.
Given that the ongoing health and fitness trend is global, and irreversible, it’s only a matter of time before more specific gym equipment safety standards are implemented.
Sportswear is subject to various textiles regulations, such as REACH in the EU, and CA Prop 65 in the United States. Both restricts heavy metals and chemicals.
In addition, you must ensure that the sportswear is labelled correctly. This includes material composition, care labels and country of origin.
In the United States, dietary supplement products and dietary ingredients are subject to FDA regulations. More information about FDA regulations can be found here.
The European Union also regulates food supplements, which also covers vitamins and minerals with Directive 2002/46/EC. More information about EU food supplement regulations can be found here.
Protein Bottles (Food Contact Materials)
Food packaging, and other products in contact with food and beverage, must comply with national food contact materials regulations.
Such regulations, including 21 CFR in the US and corresponding regulations in Europe, apply to plastics, metals and other materials.
How do I know if a supplier can comply with all relevant standards?
Most suppliers cannot comply with overseas regulations, including those in the fitness, health and gym equipment industry.
One criteria I use when sourcing suppliers on behalf of clients, is to ask them for existing test reports and product certificates.
For example, if I source Yoga Mats suppliers, I will ask for REACH or CA Prop 65 test reports – to verify that they have the capability to make compliant products.
That is of course not a guarantee for your product being fully compliant. But, a supplier with existing compliance documents are far more likely to make a compliant product – compared to one that never did so.
How many units do I need to order?
The MOQ requirement varies between suppliers, and product categories. The MOQ also tends to reflect the cost and complexity of a product – as demonstrated below:
- Foam rollers: 500 – 1000 pcs
- Threadmills: 5 – 10 pcs
- Protein Shakers: 3000 – 5000 pcs
- Yoga Mats: 500 – 1000 pcs
- Compression Wear: 500 – 1000 pcs
Keep in mind that many suppliers are willing to offer a lower MOQ, at least for the first order, if you use their standard materials and colors.
How do I make sure I get the right quality?
As when importing any kind of product, it comes down to doing the right quality checks before shipment. A quality checklists will look very different when checking protein powder, as compared to a smith machine.
Yet, some of the principles are the same.
For example, you will need to look for visual defects, such as scratches and dirt. Then there’s functional testing.
If you import gym machines, you should test the units with full weight load. For supplements, the product must be sent to a lab to ensure it’s what the supplier says it is.
Trade shows in Hong Kong and Mainland China
Do you prefer to meet suppliers face to face, rather than sourcing online? Then you might want to attend one of the following trade shows in the health, fitness and gym equipment industry:
- IWF Shanghai
- CIHIE – China International Nutrition & Health Industry Expo Beijing
- China Sport Show Shanghai
- FIBO CHINA Shanghai
- HKTDC Hong Kong Fashion Week
- Global Sources Fashion Fair
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