Like millions of busy, health-conscious professionals around the world, I strive to hit the gym before work as often as possible. My gym is conveniently located on the same block as my office, so after a grueling workout, I hit the shower and head into the office to start my day. Just as my workouts leave my lungs and muscles exhausted, so too are my gym clothes, which are transformed into sweat-soaked relics of a solid gym session.
Conveniently, my gym provides disposable plastic bags to store my sweaty gear until I’m able to dump it in the laundry – 12 hours later when I get home from work. The bags protect my coworkers from the foul odors that are no doubt emanating from my stinky gear, but at the same time the bags create an environment that fosters the buildup of bacteria and “funk” that somehow overpowers even the most intense laundry detergents and washing cycles. What ends up happening is that the life of my gym clothes is cut short. As I’ve repeated the experience of dumping my dirty workout clothes into the laundry countless times over the past several years, I’ve realized that there is a real opportunity to design a solution to improve the disposable gym bag.
The bags that my gym and countless others around the world provide to their patrons are pretty much identical to produce bags that you’ll find in a supermarket. This solution is cost-effective and convenient, but doesn’t address the issues of odor and moisture that are by-products of the fitness session. What I imagine is a bag with an odor-fighting and moisture-wicking liner that extends the life of gym clothes by pre-treating them before they are laundered. Just as a box of baking soda in the fridge eliminates odors and a slice of bread in a jar of brown sugar absorbs moisture and prevents clumping, so too could a treated laundry bag provide the same benefits for dirty clothes.
The market for such a solution is huge – according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, there are almost 30,000 health clubs with 51.4 million members in the U.S. alone. These 30,000 facilities all produce millions of pounds of sweaty and stinking workout gear that, for the most part, fester in a pile of dirty clothes until the gym-goer feels compelled to run a load of laundry. A “better bag” would be an easy sell to many of these health clubs, which attract members partly on the basis of amenities offered.
In addition to the B2B sales of this product to health clubs around the world, there is a compelling B2C market. The success of Glad’s innovative scented garbage bags, leveraging the Febreeze brand, shows a consumer interest in “premium plastic bags”; I imagine that a treated disposable laundry bag would be an attractive offering for travelers, students and a range of other consumers interested in temporarily storing odorous possessions until they can be washed or disposed of.
Once developed and launched, the brand would be a natural acquisition target for bag manufacturers such as Hefty and Glad.