Impact of Social Media on the Fitness Industry in China

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Since China recently had a fitness boom, a lot of people start to care more about the health and beauty than before. Fitness is one of factors that fulfill these two needs. That’s why the number of people who work out has been increasing substantially. In relation to this fitness industry in China, one more fascinating trend is using social media. It became a big part of people’s life. With the rapid increase in the number of people who are working out, it naturally has been impacted on social media. In other words, social media also could affect these people and fitness industry. Analyzing this interrelationship between fitness industry and social media in China is the purpose of this thesis. The research was planned from these questions. After social media has become a big part of many people’s life, what has changed in fitness industry? Can social media actually motivate people to exercise? Did it have an effect on making more people start to work out and become more interested in it? To analyze the interrelationship, regression analyses based on SPSS program were conducted. The result found that a lot of social media users are exposed to fitness-related posts on social networking sites, and it has proven that social media can be one of the factors that attracts people to fitness industry and motivates the users to work out.

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With the improvement of living standards and the change of consumer attitudes, Chinese urban and rural residents pay more attention to health and more and more people start doing physical activities. There were surveys, which 80,000 households in 2007 and 50,000 households in 2014 were participated in, shown that the number of people doing physical activities were increased by 70 million people compared to 2007.

In recent past, there has been rising market for the physical exercising in China. Until a decade ago, gymnastics, table tennis and badminton were not only the most popular sports of the country, but also the main sports that the government has promoted. However, today, China is no longer limited to elite sport such as table tennis or badminton. Fitness industry is the new trend that has attracted people’s eyes. IBISWorld says, The fitness industry is set to generate $6.91 billion in 2018, with annualized growth of 10.4% from 2013 to 2018 in China.

It is an important indicator to look at the number of fitness clubs in order to understand Chinese fitness industry. It is an obvious fact that the number of fitness center continues to increase. One thing that stands out in this graph is there was a 20.8% increase in 2015 from 2014. Overall, the number of fitness centers has been increased by almost two thousand from 2008 to 2015.

In addition, there is another graph which shows the total number of members of fitness clubs in China and year-on-year growth rate. The number of fitness club members in China was 3.38 million in 2008, which was only one-fourteenth part of the U.S. (54 million). However, its growth potential is high considering that China has more than 1.4 billion population and sports population involved in physical exercise is about 400 million. Moreover, the size of the industry would be expected to reach 3 trillion by 2020. The result shows that the number of members in 2015 had almost doubled, compared to 2008.

Factors that caused the fitness boom

Macroeconomic factors

From the point of view of big macroeconomic conditions, one of integral factors is gross domestic product. In past 20 years, China has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to the World Bank, China’s GDP reached 12.238 trillion in 2017, which signifies China is the second largest country in the world after the U.S. It also refers economic activity in the country has noticeably increased.

One more factor that influences in macroeconomic conditions is per capita national income. As seen in the chart above, the per capita national income has been rising more than 20 percent compared to 20 years ago. The per capita national income can be an essential prerequisite for the fitness needs. Because of increasing disposable income and awareness of the importance of their health, more and more people have started to exercise. Furthermore, the expansion of the sports population brought more fitness users and the demand for the gym.

The average annual cost of fitness members is about 10,000 yuan and the price of fitness membership for in the first-tier cities is usually over 3,000yuan, which is not low in price for people. Hong Kong Trade Development Council have conducted a survey. 68% of 2000 middle class consumers said they were exercising more than before, and exercising regularly has become a part of their lives. Among the total respondents, 45% people bought professional sporting equipment in 2016 and 20% of those consumers replied they have bought equipment more than before. The remarkable thing is that consumers in 25-36 age groups started to spend more money on fitness membership for workout as regular exercise.

Policy Factor

Chinese government have started to provide full support to the fitness industry as well. Since 2013, the Chinese government actively implemented policies to nurture the fitness industry, emphasizing ‘quality growth’ and ‘beauty of life’. Through the announcements of government such as Opinion on Promotion of Health Service Industry Development in 2013, Opinions on accelerating development of physical exercise industry and promoting the consumption on the exercise in 2014, 13.5 Sports Development Plans in 2015, and 2016-2020 National Fitness Plan in 2016, Chinese government has been constantly trying to encourage the expansion of local sports facilities and the promotion of health at national level.

Statement of the Problem and Purpose of study

Chinese people had increased disposable income by rising incomes of middle class. Because China’s rapid development has enriched the pockets of the people, they are no longer worried about their livelihoods compared to the past. The improvement in standards of living has affected other aspects as well. One of them is generating the fitness boom. People are more willing to spend their part of money on gym membership. In addition, as this fitness boom occurred, another trend which became all the rage for Chinese now is taking photos of their own shaped body and posting them on his or her social media account. That’s why people are exposed to gym photos and videos regardless of their intentions when they are looking at social networking sites.

Stephen Rains says, When people received more posts about exercise, it made them more concerned about their weight ” more self-conscious ” and that’s not a good thing, It literally means people can be affected and motivated by the posts of exercising. Today, as two behaviors which are working out in a gym and posting their gym selfies on social networking service have been on rising trends in China, the main objective of this research is to examine the possible correlation between these two behaviors. Besides government policies that have been encouraging people to exercise and improving the quality of life by increasing disposable income, this research will look specifically into how much influence social media platforms have impacted on the fitness industry in China.

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Impact Of Social Media On the Fitness Industry in China. (2019, Apr 15). Retrieved February 5, 2023 , from

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