WASHINGTON — Walmart is about to begin selling exercise gear to stores that don’t carry the same equipment as its competitors, and it’s expanding its reach to places that do.
The retailer is set to start shipping its first products this week in some markets, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston, and is looking to expand the list to other locations in the coming weeks, the company said.
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world with more than 500 stores, and the chain has been aggressively marketing exercise equipment to the public since it first launched its popular exercise equipment in the mid-1990s.
Walmarts efforts to expand its product offerings have been met with skepticism from some consumers and some companies that have resisted the retail giant’s efforts to market its equipment.
But Walmarts sales have grown at a rapid pace in recent years, driven by rising obesity rates and a growing number of consumers who want to lose weight.
The new products are aimed at retailers and shoppers who are interested in exercise equipment that won’t require expensive or time-consuming exercise regimens.
The company is also looking to attract more women shoppers, who tend to be more active, according to its marketing materials.
WalMart said the new products will cost $35 for 30 minutes or $65 for an hour of exercise.
The items will also include a heart rate monitor, an exercise machine, a pedometer, a hand exerciser and a range of other fitness products.
The retailer will sell them online starting in early September.
The company said it will provide an app for customers to purchase and use the products.
The push into exercise gear comes after Walmains parent company, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., recently announced plans to invest $2 billion to expand and develop a new business unit, the “new business” unit.
Wal-Mart said last year it planned to invest an additional $2.6 billion in the unit, and said it planned on hiring hundreds of people in the new business to bolster its presence in more markets.