This is the first in a series of articles on health and fitness in Asia, the opportunities and threats, for the fitness industry.

With the recent wave of fitness apps and devices coming from Asia, such as China's Goccia - the world's smallest activity tracker, HealthifyMe - a fitness and weight loss app specifically designed for the Indian market, including the largest database of Indian food and Johnson Health Tech, Asia's largest fitness equipment manufacturer, including Matrix, based in Taiwan, it is paramount to long–term success that Western fitness companies understand both the opportunities and threats in Asia.

Let's look at the


for fitness in China.

2.1B (1/3) of the World's Population is Overweight or Obese!

While the United States tops the list with the most overweight people per capita, 98M (or 1/3 of the country's population, China and India are tied for #2.


China has 385M overweight people, more than the entire population of the United States. More than 28% of Chinese adult men and 27% of the country's adult women are overweight or obese.

More than 2,000 years ago “Huangdi Neijing”, a classic Chinese medical text, identified obesity as a disease caused by eating too much “fatty meats and polished grains”. Until a generation ago such a diet was an extravagance beyond imagination for all but the elite. But the Chinese waistline has since expanded, and at an alarming rate.

China's child obesity is even more alarming: 23% of Chinese boys under age 20 are overweight or obese, while comparable figure for girls is 14%. Such figures largely surpass those of other high–income countries, including Japan and South Korea.

Childhood obesity has severe health effects, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and various types of cancers. The high percentages in China are especially troubling. We need to be thinking now about how to turn this trend around.

Health experts say that China's waistline has grown with its economy. Like many developed countries, China has found that bad habits came with greater wealth. For China, lack of exercise and unhealthy diets have helped fuel an onslaught of obesity–linked diseases.

Others also question whether China's one–child policy, which has created a land of little emperors doted on by their parents and grandparents, might have also contributed to the phenomenon.

The Gym, Health and Fitness Clubs industry in China has been developing rapidly in recent years, largely due to increasing disposable incomes and health awareness among Chinese consumers.

The Chinese fitness industry earned approximately $5B USD in 2014, with annualized growth of 15.6% from 2009 to 2014.

At 15% The Chinese Fitness Industry is Growing 3X Faster than the US.

Commercial fitness clubs began to appear in China in the early 1980s. Since then, the national economy has shown soaring development and living standards have greatly improved, which has helped to drive industry growth.

China's State Council has projected that the fitness industry would reach 5 trillion renminbi ($800 billion USD) by 2025 and account for an estimated 1 percent of China's GDP, vs. 0.6 percent today.

The number of knowledge workers in China has been growing. As the requirement for physical activity at work fell, more modern and occupational diseases began to affect the health of professionals. This has created a large and growing opportuity for the fitness industry in china.

The top players in the Chinese fitness market Haosa Group, Wellness Group, Impulse Total Fitness, and Powerhouse Gym represent approximately 15% of the market.

The fragmented market in China represents an opportunity for new players to enter.

There are a large number of regional fitness clubs in the industry. Many clubs only establish chain establishments in a specific city so as to maximize their influence. These fragmented clubs provide similar fitness services and make a relatively small contribution to industry revenue.

“China could become the biggest fitness market in the world within the next 20 years. If only 4 percent of Chinese people join gyms, the country will need to build 30,000 new clubs over the next two decades.”

– Theo Hendriks, Sports & Leisure Group

Currently, less than 1 percent of the population of mainland China hold gym memberships vs. 15 percent of Americans do.

The low industry concentration level is also attributed to the industry being in the growth phase of its life cycle.

Further testament to the growing fitness industry in china are the growth of fitness–focused events in the area:

Since 2009, ChinaFit has hosted many fitness conferences and forums, including ChinaFit Yoga Pilates Fitness Conference, ChinaFit Convention and ChinaFit/IHRSA China Management Forum.

The 2015 ChinaFit Convention and Trade Show wil be held July 7–8.

Fitness Tech is coming to International CES Asia this year.

CES Asia wil be held May 25–27.


and looking west for expansion

Little Rice (Xiaomi) the Apple of China

Xiaomi, the Apple of China, with 14% market share is already a dominant player in China's SmartPhone market and is rapidly moving to be a leader in fitness technology.

The Xiaomi Mi Band activity tracker retails for $13 USD.

The Xiaomi Mi Scale – Smart Scale – retails for $16 USD.

Xiaomi has partnered with Li Ning to develop a Smart Shoe.

Xiaomi has recently anncounced plans to open retail locations in the US and Europe.

Already more than a dozen Chinese activity trackers are being sold in US stores such as Amazon, Target and Kohls.

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