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The fit and proper way to turn over a new leaf

By WANG ZHUOQIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-25 09:16
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A Supermonkey store is seen in Shanghai. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

China's fitness market is growing, with at-home weight training facilities gaining popularity and women's sportswear turning into an emerging business category, according to an industry report.

According to the 2023 China Fitness and Health Lifestyle Industry report by sports media and research platform Gymsquare Institute, 75.9 percent of fitness enthusiasts have either maintained or increased their fitness routines in the past year.

The report was based on surveys, data from major gym providers and, as well as sports apps.

Pay-per-use and monthly payment models have become the most preferred payment methods for fitness regimens. Flexible payment methods with small, recurring payments are more in line with current consumer preferences, according to the report.

The operational models of the fitness industry are also undergoing a transformation, with a nearly 30 percent failure rate for fitness venues.

The growth in home-based online fitness has slowed, although the trend persists, said the report.

Online fitness through short-video sharing platforms such as Douyin and Bilibili is rising rapidly. Home aerobics equipment is a priority choice, while strength training equipment is in greater demand.

In the sportswear market, international sportswear brands continue to dominate, accounting for 63.9 percent of brands selected in the survey, according to the report.

Emerging international brands such as Hoka, Arc'teryx, and Salomon are witnessing increased popularity. Women's sportswear has become a major business segment, with traditional sportswear brands investing more in this market, said the report.

China's fitness industry is entering a stage of industrial innovation, with traditional gyms facing cash flow pressures even as new operational models continue to emerge.

Zhu Xingliang, founder of Zhongtian Fitness Studio, said several fitness studios have found it challenging to operate due to a decrease in footfalls and a decline in performance.

According to Zhu, the gym has put in place strict cost controls. "The situation since the beginning of 2024 has been relatively optimistic … both performance and resources have returned to normal levels," Zhu said.

Simon Wang, CEO of gym platform ClassPass China, said there are now over 2,000 gym venues — including top gyms, group fitness studios, as well as in several five-star hotels — since ClassPass entered the Chinese mainland market in 2019.

Under pressure from regulations and changing consumer habits, an increasing number of traditional gyms are beginning to collaborate with ClassPass and focusing on product quality.

Zhang Wangjie, vice-general manager of Merach, a Zhejiang-province-based high-end home gym facility provider, said its sales increased by 30 percent year-on-year in 2023, expressing a positive outlook for the online home fitness industry.

Gym chain Supermonkey has opened several new training outlets, in locations spanning Shanghai; Shenzhen, in Guangdong province; and Wuhan, in Hubei province. In addition to training venues, plans are underway for private coaching centers, cycling outlets and comprehensive stores.

Supermonkey has been expanding its store types in the past two years. The company is adjusting its group class stores in certain regions to optimize its business. As of January 2024, Supermonkey had 245 venues in nine cities nationwide, with a cumulative membership of over 30 million.

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