Gain­ing strength

High-tech to change the sports and fit­ness mar­ket

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By OUYANG SHIJIA

Fit­ness is be­com­ing a pas­sion in China.

A health-con­science gen­er­a­tion is now will­ing to pay for the right regimes by link­ing up with ex­er­cise apps and join­ing on­line slim­ming clubs or camps.

Zhu Xiaox­iao tar­gets these af­flu­ent con­sumers with his FitTime brand.

His com­pany op­er­ates a mo­bile app of the same name of­fer­ing per­sonal fit­ness train­ing, and two slim­ming “camps” for over­weight peo­ple and new moms.

“It’s really a huge mar­ket,” said Zhu, CEO of FitTime, which is based in Wuxi, Jiangsu prov­ince.

“Driven by the desire for smaller waist­lines and health­ier life­styles, more peo­ple, es­pe­cially the younger gen­er­a­tion, are will­ing to spend time and money on fit­ness and slim­ming cour­ses,” he added.

Zhu started his per­sonal fit­ness busi­ness in 2013 be­fore launch­ing the FitTime app two years later.

It of­fers ex­er­cise videos, health tips, and a so­cial plat­form for peo­ple to share opin­ions and in­ter­act with other users.

But now plans are un­der­way to shift the fo­cus to slim­ming camps or weight-loss clubs.

“Due to the re­mote na­ture of on­line train­ing, it is really hard for us to spot the cor­rect tech­niques or judge the process ac­cu­rately,” Zhu said.

“And it is also hard to make a steady profit in the long term through on­line, one-toone per­sonal train­ing pro­grams,” he added.

His slim­ming clubs, or weight-loss camps, of­fer sev­eral dif­fer­ent plans.

A pop­u­lar one with on­line cus­tomers is a four-week train­ing pro­gram on WeChat, which costs 998 yuan ($150).

In­di­vid­u­als can text chat with a per­sonal trainer, as well as other mem­bers of the group with a sim­i­lar body mass.

“We earned 10 mil­lion yuan via the newly es­tab­lished weight-loss camp last year,” Zhu said.

To cope with fierce com­pe­ti­tion in the do­mes­tic mar­ket, FitTime also launched an on­line post­na­tal fit­ness train­ing pro­gram for new moms dur­ing the sum­mer.

The regime lasts 40 days and costs 1,999 yuan. It pro­vides a wide range of ser­vices, in­clud­ing body ton­ing cour­ses.

FitTime has nearly 10 mil­lion users on all plat­forms, the com­pany claimed, while 70 per­cent are fe­males. More than 80 per­cent are be­tween the ages of 21 to 35. Qu Jing,

Last year, the on­line train­ing and fit­ness firm re­ceived sev­eral rounds of fi­nanc­ing, in­clud­ing a 50 mil­lion yuan in­jec­tion of funds at the end of 2016.

Ear­lier, Zhen Fund and Ma­trixPart­ners China had pumped sev­eral mil­lion dol­lars into FitTime.

“The train­ing ses­sions worked for me,” said one cus­tomer named “Seek­ing for Happy Whale” dur­ing a post on the Chi­nese Twit­ter-like plat­form Sina Weibo.

“Train­ers of­fered us di­etary guid­ance and ar­ranged per­son­al­ized ex­er­cise plans for ev­ery­one in the group,” she added, point­ing out that she had lost 2.5 kilo­grams af­ter four weeks.

“As all group mem­bers share the same goal, we cheer each other on all the time.”

In a mo­bile sports and fit­ness re­port re­leased dur­ing the sum­mer by con­sul­tancy Analysys, about one third of China’s pop­u­la­tion is over­weight.

“On­line weight-loss pro­grams can amass a large amount of fit­ness data,” said Qu Jing, an an­a­lyst at Analysys in Bei­jing.

“Then the op­er­a­tors can process the data and of­fer bet­ter so­lu­tions,” she added. “And for users, they can ac­cess the pro­fes­sional train­ers on mo­bile de­vices at any time and in any lo­ca­tion.”

Yet chal­lenges still ex­ist in a sec­tor which is go­ing through a dig­i­tal re­nais­sance.

“Re­mote train­ing re­duce the ef­fi­ciency of work­out,” Qu said. “It even be dan­ger­ous.

“The key is to fig­ure out the best method of su­per­vi­sion when it comes to help­ing clients suc­cess­fully lose weight and of­fer more spe­cific per­son­al­ized ser­vices,” she added.

On­line weight-loss pro­grams can amass a large amount of fit­ness data. Then the op­er­a­tors can process the data and of­fer bet­ter so­lu­tions.” an an­a­lyst at Analysys

can the can

with fit­ness train­ers.

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