25 Jun 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2021 issue 4

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Leisure Management - China intel


China intel

A new report, conducted by Deloitte, analyses the growth of the Chinese fitness industry and the outlook ahead, as Kristen Walsh reports

The fitness industry in China is growing rapidly, and the long-term outlook is positive photo: JR-50/shutterstock

IHRSA recently partnered with ChinaFit to commission an evaluation of the Chinese fitness industry as a benchmark for post-pandemic analysis.

The comprehensive study – The 2019-2020 China Health and Fitness Market White Paper – focuses on market size data from the top 18 cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Tianjin, Jinan, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Changsha, Xi’an, Zhengzhou and Kunming.

Overall, these cities had a total of 8.8 million members and 27,600 health and fitness clubs in 2019, generating US$4.9 billion in revenue (33.7 billion RMB).

Only about 3.8 per cent of these gyms were managed by one of the top ten industry brands, according to the report, showing that the industry has a low concentration ratio, and has yet to establish strong leading brands in the region.

China’s member penetration rate in the 18 cities studied reached between 3-6 per cent in 2019. The gap with developed Asian markets (~10 per cent penetration rate in Japan and Korea) is gradually narrowing, and there is still considerable room for improvement compared with penetration rates of 10-20 per cent in Europe and North America, according to Deloitte.

“The report is a valuable resource for industry stakeholders across the globe,” says Melissa Rodriguez, senior research manager at IHRSA. “The in-depth analysis of the unique fitness landscape in China provides club operators, suppliers, and investors with the intel needed to evaluate development and expansion opportunities.”

Overall, the report shows an industry that is rapidly growing and, despite the pandemic, a positive long-term outlook.

“China’s fitness market is becoming more and more attractive to investors both at home and abroad,” said Alan MacCharles, Deloitte China commercial strategy and research partner. “In order to deep dive into the Chinese fitness industry and understand the market dynamics and future trends, we are honoured to be commissioned to conduct research and analysis on the Chinese fitness industry and to author this report.”

Key takeaways
The report includes a section detailing COVID-19’s impact on the Chinese fitness industry and lessons learned from the pandemic. Key takeaways include:

• With the domestic pandemic being brought under control, over 90 per cent of gyms and fitness studios have been gradually reopened.

• Traffic remains at 70-80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

• The full recovery of the industry remains uncertain, depending on the control of further outbreaks.

• From a long-term perspective, the pandemic has increased people’s awareness of health and fitness on a national scale.

• The fitness industry, as a core sector of the health industry, will continue to grow and diversify – the long-term outlook is positive.

• The pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of the fitness industry and as gym operators roll out online content and services to maintain and expand customer relationships, consumers are becoming more familiar with home fitness and online fitness.

• In recent years, the industry standardisation level has continuously improved as the market adjusts itself. The Matthew effect has gradually emerged, and the decentralised market is transforming to a relatively concentrated market. COVID-19 has accelerated industry reshuffling.

• After the epidemic, fitness brands will focus on improving in these five areas: business model, store expansion, product and service offerings, maintaining members, and online operation.

Kirsten Walsh is associate publisher at IHRSA Download the report: www.ihrsa.org/publications Key contact: Adrian Xu, Deloitte China at adxu@deloitte.com.cn

Originally published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 4

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