Monday, November 9, 2009

Let’s Get Physical – China’s Fitness Industry Boom

“Now 30, Jiao Ying is one of a new generation of Chinese urban professionals who are spending their hard-earned renminbi on themselves, giving rise to lifestyle industries such as fashion, design and fitness. Though Jiao says that she and her husband are rarities in their social circle for their gym memberships — most of her female friends go to yoga clubs and her male friends to a soccer field or basketball court for their exercise — they are part of a rising number of bailing, white collar workers, who are fuelling a fitness industry boom that has seen the number of gyms in urban areas explode over the past decade. Just ten years ago there was a dearth of fitness clubs on the Chinese mainland. Anyone who wanted to exercise was forced to seek out hotel gyms, which often charged exorbitant rates affordable only to foreigners and rich Chinese. But in 2000, international commercial fitness clubs such as Bally Total Fitness began popping up in Shanghai, says Matt Lewis, vice president of Fitlosophy Group, which acquires and runs local clubs. The following year the trend spread to Beijing, and the year after that, to third- and fourth-tier cities around the country. Shanghai is now home to over 300 clubs, both local and international, and Beijing to over 400....

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