A strange experience for many at the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic was entering a grocery store and finding shelves that held toilet paper, rice, even meat completely empty. Dumbbells aren't something you typically pick up along with a loaf of bread, container of milk, and a stick of butter, but they used to be almost as easy to find in a big box store as those kitchen staples.
Right now, according to the explainers at Vox, there is a dumbbell shortage in the United States and the corona-infected supply chain is to blame.
Here's more from Vox:
Dumbbells, like Nintendo Switches, yeast, and bidets, are one of those things that have become extremely popular during the pandemic and extremely hard to find. People are spending more and more time at home, and they’re buying things they never needed or possibly wanted before. The sudden surge in demand has created shortages of the most seemingly disparate things.
There’s also a shortage of knowledge because so many of us are first-time buyers. Gyms made these decisions for us. Trying to buy them now includes questions not just pertaining to the weight, but also shape, material, and which companies to purchase from and which to avoid — a dumbbell can go for $40 or $150 depending on where you’re purchasing it.
Basically, until gyms closed to slow the spread of COVID-19—a pathogen that medical scientists are still studying in an effort to fight it—not that many people even worried about having their own weights at home.
Then they did, and the dumbbell supply chain was already breaking down. At least 95 percent of these weights are Chinese-made. COVID-19 stilled Chinese production well before the rest of the world, so while that massive and very productive nation coped with a total shutdown between January and April of 2020, no new weights were being manufactured.
Then, even as China began to slowly creep out of quarantine, the need for some kind of home workout solution began to peak in other countries and the China-based suppliers were strapped.
It should say something about the truly huge number of items made in China every day to note that the dumbbell shortage will definitely get better and you'll be able to buy another set eventually—but it will still take some time.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other solutions.
No less than Dolph Lundgren demonstrated best practices with resistance bands near the beginning of the U.S. shutdown.
And if all else fails, remember that there's a reason prisoners get so big, even though prison weight rooms aren't as common as movies suggest. If anyone can teach you how to get bulked up with nothing but bodyweight while in a relatively confined space, it's an ex-con.
Besides, even though gyms are reopening in many places, it may take some time for people to feel like they can avoid infection and get that workout in.