Olympic fever boosts fitness clubs' business

Updated: 2012-08-07 07:40

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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As China continues to rack up gold medals in London, Beijing's fitness centers are also enjoying golden times.

Gyms across the capital have seen a spike in new members, with many residents inspired to get in shape by Olympic heroes such as badminton ace Lin Dan.

"Although the summer is a traditional peak season for fitness clubs, the number of new members in July was higher than last year," said Zhang Wei, who works in membership registration for Hosa Fitness in the Chaoyang district of Beijing. The fitness club has 86 centers nationwide, including Shanghai and Chengdu.

"Many people step into the fitness centers for a toned figure, thanks to the inspiring six-pack abs and toned figures of the athletes in the London Games," he said.

However, the marketing department of another fitness club in the capital, Tera Wellness Club, said it witnessed a year-on-year increase of new members of less than 10 percent in July.

Gao Feng, a salesman at Hosa, said he signs up most new members in spring, but added the sales performance last month was "impressive". According to the club, women account for more than half of the gym's members. Most of the women are in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

The enthusiasm of the new recruits, partly inspired by the Games, also provided inspiration for the clubs' marketing departments.

In addition to the annual membership dues during the Olympics, clubs across Beijing also come up with various promotions to attract customers.

"For those who came to register for a year, we give away film tickets, the amount of which was the number of gold medals the Chinese athletes won the day before," Zhang said.

Tera Wellness Club also gives out gifts such as T-shirts, sneakers and sports bottles.

The clubs also serve as a place for networking with like-minded people.

Many members came after work for a jog on the treadmill while watching the Games, said a marketing officer who gave her name as Wu at Nirvana Fitness and Spa, a high-end gym chain.

Jia Nan, 27, a Beijing resident, comes to the gym with his wife when time allows, to keep fit after his wedding.

"I used to play soccer during college, but after I started working and got married less than two years ago, I have had fewer chances of doing it, so I choose to go to the gym to keep fit," he said.

"We watch the Games live while lifting or exercising and talk it over with each other," he said.

"Some choose to watch the Games while walking and jogging," Wu at Nirvana said. "That's also the spirit of the Games."

The increasing membership at the gym and growing popularity of the fitness clubs is not a short-term effect of the London Games alone, said Zhang at Hosa. He believes the fitness craze will keep its momentum and bring considerable prospects to the business.

According to the marketing department of Hosa, to welcome the upcoming National Fitness Day on Aug 8, it will also come up with various promotion activities like free experience and lottery draws.

Sports events can always spark enthusiasm for fitness among the public, and it is necessary to seize the opportunity of the Olympics, as well as the National Games next year in Shenyang, Liaoning province, to further encourage more of the public to exercise, he said.

Contact the writer at zhengxin@chinadaily.com.cn

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