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China’s middle class driving fitness industry growth

August 25, 2017

With annualised growth of 12% from 2012 to 2017, China’s fitness industry is on course to generate US$6.31 billion in income this year, driven by increasing disposable incomes and health awareness among China's growing middle class.

IBISWorld’s newly released Gym, Health & Fitness Clubs in China: Market Research Report explains that there are today over 415 million millennials - those born in the 1980s and 1990s - in the country, more than the entire working populations of the United States and Western Europe combined.

Having grown up with social media, Chinese millennials put a greater premium on looking good, and a good physique is now associated with virtues such as perseverance and self-discipline.

Market analyst Julian Chow recently told the China Daily "there is a cultural trend towards sexy six-pack figures, and there is middle-class anxiety about the costs of ill health and peer pressure to look better.

"You want to prove you can afford to hit a gym to stay active."

A recent research note from Euromonitor International suggests that Chinese consumers are also more willing to pay for gym memberships and brand-name sporting apparel, making fitness one of China’s top 10 drivers of the consumer market alongside leisure and food.

Gym memberships in China have doubled since 2008 to hit 6.6 million last year, according to the China Business Research Academy.

Running has also become a popular pastime, with more than 100 marathons held last year - against 51 in 2014 while the number of yoga practitioners is estimated to have grown from four million in 2009 to more than 10 million today.

According to a White Paper released last month, from less than 500 fitness clubs in 2001, there are now more than 37,000 gyms around the country.

With the Chinese Government having instituted regulations on club establishment that increase barriers to entry - for example, clubs must meet minimum standards for indoor environment and ventilation facilities have to reach certain standards – barriers to entry into the fitness club market are rising.

However, according to IBISWorld “existing chains enjoy economies of scale that allow them to meet the various demands of customers (while also having) advantages in terms of uniform management and systemised services.”

These opportunities have seen international chains looking to enter the market, with US franchise group Anytime Fitness announcing  in June that it aims to open as many as 500 gyms in China in the coming years.

New Zealand-based group exercise giant Les Mills is also positive about market potential.

Chief Executive Philip Mills recently told the China Daily "China's fitness market, including gyms and programme developers, needs consolidation after the fast growth.

 "In the long run, we're confident the market size is really going to expand to a significant size."

Lower image shows Outdoor Fitness equipment on the streets of Guangzhou.

15th August 2017 - MINI GYMS LAUNCHED ON STREETS OF BEIJING

31st July 2017 - NEARLY 100,000 PARTICIPANTS SIGN UP FOR 2017 BEIJING MARATHON

5th July 2017 - ANYTIME FITNESS LOOKS TO OPEN UP TO 500 FRANCHISES IN CHINA BY 2020

29th June 2017 - ASIA’S LEADING FITNESS TRADE SHOW GROWS BY 30%

7th April 2017 - CHINESE GOVERNMENT AGREES INTERNATIONAL PARTNERSHIP TO COPE WITH DEMAND FOR SWIMMING LESSONS

23rd February 2017 - ASIAN FITNESS CLUB MERGER SEES CREATION OF EVOLUTION WELLNESS 

13th September 2016 - WHILE ITS FITNESS INDUSTRY GROWS, CHINA’S 1.3 BILLION PEOPLE ARE STILL NOT GETTING ENOUGH EXERCISE

16th August 2016 - SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST REPORTS ON ‘THE DARK SIDE’ OF HONG KONG’S FITNESS INDUSTRY

18th July 2016 - ANYTIME FITNESS RETAINS TOP PLACE ON ANNUAL TOP GLOBAL FRANCHISE LIST 

1st July 2016 - FIBO CHINA TO CREATE A BRIDGE TO CHINA’S GROWING FITNESS MARKET 

22nd May 2016 - CHINA GRAPPLES WITH RISE IN CHILDHOOD OBESITY

11th May 2016 - CHINESE SPORTS INDUSTRY TO BE WORTH MORE THAN US$460 BILLION BY END OF 2020

 

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