The Asia-Pacific fitness market has hit a record high, and all signs point towards continued exponential growth in coming years – just one more reason for fitness providers to take the leap into the region.
A new report from Deloitte and the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) shows that the Asia-Pacific fitness industry is now worth $16.8bn – its highest value ever. And with recent projections showing that seven out of the top 20 economies in the world will be in Asia by 2050, there is unlimited potential for fitness and wellness businesses to move into the region.
Commenting on the report, which explores the health club industry in 14 markets in the Asia-Pacific region, providing 10 city-level insights for select cities in China and India, Alan MacCharles, partner at Deloitte China explained:
“Driven by the momentum of economic prosperity, the fitness market in the Asia-Pacific region has shown steady growth, with a positive outlook going forward.”
But, what do those opportunities look like, and how can fitness operators leverage them?
The report estimates that there are now more than 25,000 clubs across the region, servicing 22 million club members. Australia and New Zealand are the only markets considered mature, however, there are growing concerns that the two countries are hitting saturation point.
A recent report by consulting group IbisWorld estimates that the Australian fitness industry is worth AU$2.4bn, with the emergence of Australian 24-hour gym chains such as Anytime Fitness and Jetts Fitness, stimulating most of the growth. While this has seen overall development in the sector, it does mean that the traditional, full-service gyms, such as Fitness First, have suffered.
Expansion into Asia
It’s no surprise that the businesses that have achieved such success in Australia and New Zealand would look to expand into the broader region. In April, Jetts Fitness opened four more clubs in Thailand, bringing its total in the country to seven, with a further eight to open by Christmas. Another 35 gyms are planned for Thailand’s provinces from 2019 onwards.
Jetts, owned by the Fitness and Lifestyle Group (FLG), is targeting malls and locations close to mass transit lines in Bangkok as it builds its network.
“As with the global health and fitness sector, Thailand is experiencing a surge and Jetts will tick all the boxes for health-conscious consumers who demand a gym that is simple, affordable and fits into their busy lifestyles,” said FLG CEO Greg Oliver upon the clubs’ launch earlier this year.
The penetration rate within Hong Kong’s fitness market has grown to 5.9 percent, while in Singapore the rate is currently at 5.8 percent – high above the 3.8 percent average measured in 2015. Both city-states, with their large expat and high-income populations, have led the way in Asia. New concepts, such as New York’s rhythm-cycling programme, Absolute Cycle, that launched this year, typically test these markets first.
“Overall market penetration is on an upward trajectory, reflecting an increasing awareness of the importance of good health and the role a club membership can play in this,” notes MacCharles.
Thinking outside the box
However, there are still significant opportunities in countries that don’t yet have substantial penetration or where global brands have not made inroads. Fitness and wellness experts could find they have a huge market share in countries like Indonesia and India if they choose to forgo the more obvious markets.
India is the second most populous country in the world, but only 0.15 percent of Indians are health club members. The majority of health clubs are located in densely populated cities, and there is a particular focus on weights versus holistic wellness – CrossFit has dozens of locations across the country. This leaves the majority of the country open.
Businesses could launch in smaller cities with very little to no competition, and penetrate a market eager for education. For more insights into how to tap into the fitness sector in the country, check out our India Market Report.