Fe­male fight club

De­spite more women join­ing the sport, poor stan­dards, high costs may hin­der in­dus­try ex­pan­sion: ex­perts

Global Times - - Business - By Shen Wei­duo

Cui He, a 26-year-old white-col­lar worker based in Shang­hai, has been curb­ing her desire for new clothes and bags to save money for twice-weekly fight­ing classes in­stead.

“I have been spend­ing around 3,000 yuan ($436.12) a month on the fight­ing club since I started train­ing a year ago, ac­count­ing for about 30 per­cent of my to­tal salary,” Cui said, adding that the mem­ber­ship fee is al­most the same as her monthly rent.

Sev­eral fe­male fight­ers the Global Times in­ter­viewed on Tues­day said that the sport burns fat in a much faster way than reg­u­lar gym ex­er­cises and that it’s quite pres­sure-re­liev­ing, es­pe­cially af­ter an ex­haust­ing day at work.

“The calm­ness and or­derly man­ner de­vel­oped dur­ing the train­ing will also re­flect in your daily life,” Cui noted.

She said that hav­ing fight­ing skills is also a pow­er­ful self-de­fense tool. Thus, de­spite the hobby seem­ing to be a bit ex­pen­sive, the en­thu­si­asm for the sport from women like Cui has been grow­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by the Shang­hai-based PlanBee Com­bat Train­ing Club, women ac­count for 60 per­cent of its to­tal mem­bers, more than its male cus­tomers.

The club has a to­tal of 300 mem­bers so far and the fig­ure is ex­pected to quickly in­crease in the fu­ture.

Bei­jing-based Quan­feng Fight­ing Club also said that mem­bers who take fight­ing classes – a tra­di­tion­ally male-dom­i­nated sports ac­tiv­ity – are now an even mix of men and women, with more clubs eye­ing the po­ten­tial mar­ket for fe­male fight­ing lovers.

Cur­rently, there are more than 200 fight­ing clubs in Bei­jing, af­ter the ex­er­cise came into the spot­light in 2016, mak­ing the in­dus­try quite com­pet­i­tive, Ma Yun­peng, founder of Quan­feng Fight­ing Club, told the Global Times on Mon­day.

Fu­ture plans

How­ever, the hype brought about by this in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity did not last long.

Some of these newly es­tab­lished fight­ing clubs do not have qual­i­fied coaches and stan­dard teach­ing agen­das, caus­ing some dis­or­der and pos­si­bly hin­der­ing the in­dus­try from ex­pand­ing in the fu­ture.

“A sys­tem­atic train­ing sys­tem and qual­i­fied coaches are nec­es­sary for fur­ther the pro­mo­tion of the ex­er­cise, es­pe­cially at such an early stage, when the fan base is still limited and not solid,” Ma noted.

In fact, the num­ber of fans lags be­hind the ex­pan­sion rate of fight­ing clubs, Ma said.

Zhang Hudong, an in­de­pen­dent sports an­a­lyst, cau­tioned that high costs and thus high mem­ber­ship fees will also ham­per the in­dus­try from de­vel­op­ing into a cul­tural phe­nom­e­non, since it might be seen as too pres­ti­gious to de­velop into an ev­ery­day hobby for the gen­eral public.

“And most peo­ple still hold the typ­i­cal im­pres­sion that the ex­er­cise is male-dom­i­nated and can cause you to eas­ily get hurt. Some may even con­sider it as a dan­ger­ous ac­tiv­ity, mak­ing it hard to be­come a phe­nom­e­non like the gym or yoga,” Zhang said.

A pri­vate fight­ing class could cost as much as 700 yuan per per­son in Bei­jing, and for an an­nual mem­ber­ship, the price could be around 10,000 yuan per per­son.

“I won’t give up this hobby for now, but if some­thing hap­pens, for ex­am­ple, I buy a house, maybe I would turn to much more af­ford­able classes, though I don’t want to,” Cui said.

Gao Li­jun, founder and CEO of PlanBee and a women’s 57-kilo­gram cham­pion of the World Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, told the Global Times on Wed­nes­day that her com­pany is now fo­cus­ing on tai­lor­ing teach­ing plans to tar­get dif­fer­ent groups, such as women, men and chil­dren, but will not ex­pand and open branches in a rush.

“It could take some time for the public, as well as those po­ten­tial in­vestors, to find the charm in fight­ing. Be­fore that, I will try to build the brand,” Gao said.

“The gov­ern­ment’s pro­mo­tion of na­tion­wide fit­ness pro­grams also pro­vides us with a pref­er­en­tial en­vi­ron­ment for de­vel­op­ing those once rarely known sports ac­tiv­i­ties such as fight­ing,” Ma said, adding that sus­tain­ing the ex­ist­ing mem­ber­ship is the pri­or­ity for his club at the mo­ment.

Photo: Cour­tesy of Quan­feng Fight­ing Club

A woman poses for a photo with her trainer dur­ing a fight­ing class.

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