Asia Fitness Trends

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Asia Fitness Trends: South Korea

There is limited information regarding fitness trends in South Korea. Hence, the research identified only two fitness trends in the country, including home training and yoga, which is getting increased interest from youths in South Korea. As of 2017, 79.5% South Koreans partaking in yoga did so to improve their body and lose weight, 16.9% to have a hobby, and 12.3% for pleasure. Unfortunately, there is no information specific to the companies at the forefront of these trends.



  • According to The Korea Herald in 2018, home training, also known as working out at home, was a rising fitness trend for South Korean, especially busy modern consumers.
  • The report by The Korea Herald observed that people in South Korea were opting to stay at home and partake in extensive workouts using videos from online platforms.
  • As per The Korea Herald's report, sales of cycling machines in South Korea increased by 134% between 2017 and 2018, as more people in the country were purchasing training equipment to stay fit at home.
  • Due to this trend, patent submissions for training equipment in South Korea went from 69 in 2012 to 152 in 2017 alone.
  • According to The Korea Herald's report, Smi Home Training and Dano TV were the most significant YouTube channels helping South Koreans to stay fit at home via online videos.


  • A global fitness study by Muni Deporte, which involved South Korea, listed yoga as one of the top fitness trends in the world
  • Also, a report by FTN News noted that yoga was one of the top fitness trends in the world. FTN News' report featured several countries of the world including South Korea.
  • According to a report by DNA India in 2018, yoga was the craze among South Koreans. The report observed that every youth in South Korea wanted to learn yoga, making the demand for yoga teachers increase.
  • TriYoga, a non-profit organization, reported that yoga was catching on in the city of Seoul with increasing teacher training and people wishing for more training time.
  • As per Statista's report in 2017, 79.5% South Koreans partaking in yoga did so to improve their body and lose weight, 16.9% to have a hobby, and 12.3% for pleasure.
  • As of January 2018, sales of yoga mats and towels in South Korea grew by 36% and 276%.


  • According to a report by 10Mag, the top gyms and fitness centers in South Korea include Arnold Hong Gym, Star-Kali Fitness, Boxing Gym Everest, Mapo-gu, FitClub, Body & Seoul Martial Arts, and others.
  • The South Korea health & fitness clubs and gyms market was expected to grow with a CAGR of 2% from 2014 to 2018 and reach US$940.3 million in 2018, according to Report Linker.
  • Astudy by Report Linker also observed that the fitness industry in South Korea would grow by 1.9% between 2018 and 2023, reaching US$1,034.3 million by the end of 2023.
  • Report Linker study in 2019 revealed that lifestyle changes in South Korea were responsible for the steady growth of the fitness industry in the country.


We started by looking for industry studies and reports relevant to South Korea's fitness industry, hoping to find insights into significant trends driving the sector. For this, we researched the Huffington Post Korea,, MediaToday, Korea Times, and others. This investigation yielded a report by The Korea Herald, which observed that working out at home, also called home training, was the fitness trend making waves in South Korea. Also, we found a paid study of South Korea's fitness market by Report Linker, which highlighted that it contained insights into the trends driving the industry's growth, but we could not access this information because it was behind a pay-wall. Thus, this research did not yield any study or report in the public domain with a list of fitness trends in South Korea. Furthermore, the report by The Korea Herald did not provide details of the companies that were driving the home training trend.

Therefore, we switched strategies to investigate prominent fitness clubs and companies in South Korea with the hope to locate information apropos of trends they were adjusting to or promoting. This time, we located a report by 10Mag listing the top gyms and fitness centers in South Korea such as Arnold Hong Gym, Star-Kali Fitness, Body & Seoul Martial Arts, and others. Unfortunately, this report did not have any information relevant to trends in the industry. Our research of the companies listed by 10Mag did not produce insights into fitness trends in South Korea. As per our investigation, most of these companies only had social media accounts where they posted training sessions with no information related trends.

Next, we expanded the research scope to Asia and the world, hoping to find fitness trends' studies that highlighted those relevant to South Korea. This time, we found a report by SCMP that listed significant fitness trends in Asia, but there was no information pertinent to South Korea in this report. However, we located global fitness studies by FTN News and Muni Deporte involving South Korea. Again, although these reports had South Korea as part of their studies, none listed fitness trends specific to South Korea. Therefore, we proceeded to examine each global trend listed by these studies hoping to find any report revealing that it was a significant trend in South Korea. Out of the highlighted worldwide fitness trends such as high-intensity interval training, yoga, group training, strength training, and others, we could only find information showing that yoga was a growing fitness trend in South Korea.

Hence, we proceeded to investigate companies driving yoga fitness training in South Korea and found reports by Tri Yoga, Statista, and DNA India. Unfortunately, these reports only provided details revealing why yoga was trending in the country but did not show information relevant to the companies driving the trend. Therefore, due to limited information in the public domain pertinent to fitness trends in South Korea, we provided the two trends found in the research along with the few details of each publicly available, as a proxy for the needed information.
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Asia Fitness Trends: Japan

In Japan, fitness trends revolve around the ubiquity of radio calisthenics, the aging membership of fitness clubs, and the emergence of compact and low-cost fitness clubs. Older generations gravitate towards full-service fitness clubs, while younger generations gravitate towards compact and low-cost fitness clubs. Radio calisthenics are widespread.


  • Since it was introduced in Japan nearly a century ago, radio calisthenics or rajio taisō has become a fundamental part of the everyday life of the Japanese. With radio calisthenics, the Japanese stretch, bend, run, or jump as they follow the instructions of the voice on the radio. The exercise routine, which lasts three minutes, is accompanied by lively piano music.
  • Tokyo's Kamezuka park is one place in Japan where people regularly do radio calisthenics.
  • Talking about the routine, Japan Radio Taiso Federation Secretary General Yasuo Fukushi says that "people have grown up with it and know it [off] by heart."
  • NHK broadcasts the calisthenic routine four times each day except Sunday. There are actually two standard calisthenic routines, with one routine more difficult than the other.
  • In preparation for the 2020 Paralymics and Olympics that Tokyo will host, Japan has planned to raise people's awareness of the calisthenic routine by carrying a mass workout. It has made arrangements such that there are at least 10 million participants in each of the 47 prefectures.
  • It appears radio calisthenics has become pervasive because the routine is easy, the routine is not time-consuming, and the routine offers real benefits. According to Yukihide Maruyama, a septuagenarian who has done the communal exercise routine for nearly 10 years now, "the exercises aren't that difficult and afterwards you feel like your body has properly woken up."


  • In Japan, more and more senior citizens are signing up for gym memberships. The average age of gym members has increased from around 30 in the 1970s to around 55 on weekends and around 65 on weekdays. There were practically no senior citizens in gyms in the 1970s, but now, fitness clubs are dominated by the elderly.
  • Of people doing fast walking and muscle training at gyms, around 80% or 90% are over 60 in age. These older gym members go to the gym nearly every day. They work out for around three hours each time they go to the gym, 2 1/2 hours for fast walking and muscle training and a half hour for bathing.
  • In 2017, the age group that spent the most on fitness facilities was the 60-69 age group. As opposed to the 50-59 age group that spent an average of nearly 6,000 yen, this age group spent an average of over 8,000 yen.
  • One example of a fitness club chain that has observed this trend is Central Sports. One regular yoga class attendee, who is 67 years old, says that she works out at this fitness club "to stay healthy and to keep in touch with friends."
  • Seiji Goto, president of Central Sports, says that "the proportion of members in their 70s is growing" and is "increasing rapidly."
  • Another example is Renaissance. This fitness club chain has observed that the percentage of its members who are over 60 has increased from 26.9% five years ago to 32.5% today.
  • Senior citizens go to the gym so they can avoid metabolic and lifestyle-related diseases. Also, for these people, the gyms have become a venue for socializing. Older gym members typically chat with each other after a workout.
  • A survey found that over 60% of people in Japan who are 65 or older exercise no less than once each week. These people believe that exercise helps in keeping their bodies healthy.


  • Compact and low-cost fitness clubs that target younger generations, particularly millennials, are emerging.
  • Anytime Fitness and Joyfit are two examples of these compact and low-cost fitness clubs.
  • So far, Anytime Fitness has around 350 locations in Japan, while Joyfit has over 200 locations.
  • The facilities of Anytime Fitness are often located near train stations and are packed with weightlifting equipment and treadmills. Members have keys that enable them to enter facilities 24/7.
  • Anytime Fitness has membership fees that are less than 50% of fees offered by full-service fitness chains.
  • The emergence of compact and low-cost fitness clubs appears to be driven by the fact that the more expensive, full service fitness clubs, those with gyms, studios, and pools, attract mostly the elderly, Millennials gravitate towards low-cost fitness clubs or studios.



  • Of Japanese couples, 23.2% "do physical exercises together with their spouses."
  • They do so because they enjoy working out with their spouses (28.7%), they believe exercising together will facilitate communication (22.6%), or they "find the habit uplifiting" (19.4%).
  • Of Japanese couples who exercise together, 61.5% say exercising together has improved marital relations.
  • Between 2015 and 2017, the percentage of people aged 12-21 in Japan who do not exercise had increased from 15.3% to 16.5%.
  • A survey shows that 55% of people aged 20-70 in Japan do not engage in regular exercise. They exercise no more than once per month or they do not exercise at all.
  • Thirty-five percent of these people explain that they are too busy to exercise. Others explain that they simply do not like to exercise.
  • Motivations for exercising vary across age groups. People in their 50s or 60s indicate heath maintenance as their primary reason for exercising. Females in their 20s or 30s cite fat loss as their motivation, while males in their 20s cite fun as their motivation.
  • The fitness activity of choice varies across age groups as well. Women enjoy yoga, senior citizens enjoy walking, and people in their 20s or 30s enjoy jogging.
  • Celebrity trainer Aya Osanai, who trains Japanese actresses and models, says that "many Japanese people, especially women, are afraid of lifting weights because they believe it will make them too macho, or give them big legs and a fat neck."
  • Exercise plays a smaller role than diet and attitudes toward food in the longevity of people in Japan.


  • Among the top free fitness apps in Japan are Nike Run Club, Runtastic Jog & Running App, Step Counter — Pedometer App, Nike Training Club, Runkeeper — GPS Running Tracker, MyFitnessPal, and 30 Day Fitness.
  • Among the top paid fitness apps in Japan are Runtastic Running Tracker PRO, Runtastic Squats Trainer PRO, Runtastic Push-Ups PRO, and Runtastic Sit-Ups PRO.
  • Among the top-grossing fitness apps in Japan are 30 Day Fitness, MyFitnessPal, Runtastic Jog & Running App, Strava: Run, Ride, Swim, Runtastic Running Tracker PRO, Daily Yoga — Workout & Fitness, and Runkeeper — GPS Running Tracker.



Though a list of fitness trends in Japan is not readily available in the public domain, we were able to determine ongoing trends by reading through articles and reports that cover how people in Japan exercise, work out, or keep fit, and noting common themes. From the few sources that offer information on this topic, including those published by The Japan Times, The Guardian, Nikkei Asian Review, and Rakuten, we were able to gather insights that helped us come to the conclusion that there are three prevailing trends in the country's fitness industry. These are the ubiquity of radio calisthenics, the aging membership of fitness clubs, and the emergence of compact and low-cost fitness clubs. These are trends for which we were able to identify (a) the companies at the forefront of the trend and (b) the trend drivers. We placed in a separate section those insights that we were unable to establish as trends.

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Asia Fitness Trends: China

Some recent fitness trends in China include the rise in adoption of wearable devices, fitness apps, and CrossFit training programs. Additionally, many Chinese citizens plan to invest more in fitness activities in the future.


  • CrossFit seems to have high appeal among Chinese citizens; alternatively, CrossFit is considered as a dangerous sport by some exercise enthusiasts.
  • Interestingly, more Chinese citizens are getting inclined towards the program because it offers technical workout exercises that have proven effects on alleviating body weight.
  • It is noted that Chinese consumers are shifting towards gyms that offer alternative exercising programs like yoga, CrossFit, or Pilates.
  • CrossFit exercises are more complex than regular exercise programs and require highly-qualified fitness trainers to impart the correct form of training in China.
  • In 2019, CrossFit has planned to open one affiliate gym every week in China. The brand currently has over 120 branded box gyms across China.
  • CrossFit features an app on WeChat and a regional website in mandarin to attract more customers. Additionally, the brand is hosting two CrossFit Sanctionals in 2019. The first event took place in April at Shanghai; while, the second will take place in Chengdu in August.
  • CrossFit One Nation is at the forefront of the CrossFit revolution in China. Max Ma, is the owner of the Chinese chain and hosts the annual Asia CrossFit Championship.
  • The recent announcement by China's President, Xi Jinping states that maintaining good health and fitness of the people is one of the nation's top priorities, owing to an increasing economic burden of chronic disorders in the country. Additionally, the National Bureau projects the economic impact of chronic disorders to reach $16 trillion by 2030 in China.
  • It is noted that Chinese people love challenges, and CrossFit offers similar value promotion of health and wellness inline with the Chinese belief of Taoism. Hence, an increasing number of Chinese consumers are willing to pay higher fees for joining the CrossFit program.


  • Chinese fitness enthusiasts are increasingly using mobile apps to assist and track their fitness lifestyle and goals.
  • China's top fitness app is 'Keep' and was launched in August 2017. The mobile app currently serves more than 100 million users in China, compared to about 20 million users in Europe, and 23 million users in the US.
  • The app enables the users to create a custom workout program so people can work out anytime and anywhere according to their convenience. Additionally, the mobile app allows users to connect with friends and share their daily activity and workout progress.
  • It is found that Keep has over 23% of its users live in the five largest cities of China, i.e., Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. Further, about 77% of its users are under the age of 35 years.
  • The increasing usage of mobile apps complements the growing number of gym memberships in China. Additionally, it is noted that the number of gym memberships doubled from 2008 at about 6.6 million members in 2016.
  • The mobile apps can provide additional lines of service for users like coaching incentives and personalized activity regimes.


  • It is noted that Chinese consumers love to wear a wearable device while working out.
  • In 2018, the rising popularity of wearable devices led the industry to generate a revenue of over $6.5 billion in China.
  • Xiaomi is among the top manufacturers of wearable devices in China. In 2017, Xiaomi’s fitness tracker's market share reached 17% globally, with about 95% of sales from China.
  • According to eMarketer, China became the world's largest wearable device market with 167 million users at a penetration rate of 23% in 2018.
  • Chinese consumers are increasingly acquiring a wearable device to monitor their eating and sleeping patterns. Also, the device enables the users to track activity and monitor vital health statistics during their exercise sessions.


  • According to a recent article by SCMP, about 500 million Chinese citizens will be willing to work out during their free time by 2025.
  • Due to the rising popularity of health and fitness, the gym and health club membership industry generated a revenue of more than $6.9 billion in 2018; it is projected to reach over $18.3 billion in 2020.
  • The growing disposal income of Chinese middle-class and the party's focus on better health and wellness of citizens are some factors contributing to increasing investment of time and money in the fitness activities across China.


To identify the recent fitness trends in China, we started the research by studying numerous industry publications, health sites, business reports, and news publications like ISPO and China Briefing. Next, to ascertain the fitness trends, we researched for similar trends being featured across multiple media publications. We compiled our report from credible sources that featured how people in China are working out and their increasing adoption of technology.
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Asia Fitness Trends: Hong Kong

Children and adolescents in Hong Kong feel more positive about working out, and in general, work out more than adults and seniors, who have a poorer perception of working out. Some popular fitness apps in Hong Kong include Kfit, GuavaPass, and ClassPass.




  • 51.8% work on their fitness for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
  • 8.3% work on their fitness for 60 minutes, seven days a week.
  • At this age group, boys and girls perform about the same.


  • 42.3% work on their fitness for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
  • 8.4% work on their fitness for 60 minutes, seven days a week with "vigorous intensity."
  • Boys perform better than girls in this age group.

Adults and Elderly:

  • 37.1% work on their fitness for 30 minutes a day, three days a week.
  • 28.6% work on their fitness for 150 minutes over the course of the week.
  • Men perform better than women in this age group.


  • Personal choice and physical abilities drive most types of fitness.
  • One company on the forefront of this driver is Luxury Gyms, specifically barre gyms such as Barre 2 Barre.


  • 59.5% of children ages 7-12 participate in electronic motion activated sports games for physical fitness.
  • Children in Hong Kong typically play in public parks or play ball games for fitness.
  • They spend 4.1 hours a week on average working on fitness at public parks.


  • Adolescents also enjoy ball games and parks as well as jogging, rollerblading, ice-skating, and swimming.
  • They spend 1.7 hours a week working on fitness in public parks.

Adults and Elderly:

  • Running and ball games are still a top choice around young adults, but with age, adults and the elderly in Hong Kong typically enjoy walking.
  • On average, this group spends 84.90 minutes per day, walking for fitness.
  • Boutique gyms are becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong, with one of the largest — Barre 2 Barre — having over 25,000 subscribers on two islands and has a CAGR of 12-15%.
  • When going to a gym, most adults tend to opt for personal trainers.
  • Adults will pay personal trainers $500-$1,000 per session.


  • The surrounding environments drive the attitudes behind working out.
  • For instance, many school-aged children are obliged to perform fitness activities due to school sports.
  • It is also shown that when parents are more active, it drives children to be more active in return.


  • Almost all children generally have a positive outlook on fitness, stating such things as "It makes me happy."
  • Most children that do not perform well in physical fitness state that the reasons are either being too tired, they have too much school work, or the weather is too poor for fitness.


  • Adolescents have mixed feelings about fitness, with many of them participating and citing its health benefits as one of their main motivators as well as, the release of pressure and emotions and getting to spend time with friends.
  • The adolescents who do not wish to participate in fitness claim general disinterest as the reason.

Adults and Elderly:

  • Adults and elders, as a whole, are disinterested in working out.
  • Many claim the reasons they do not remain physically active is due to being lazy.


  • A key driver behind the use of fitness apps is the act that Hong Kong is such a technology-driven collective.
  • Over 80% of the residents have a smartphone, and of those smartphone users, 67% have an app used to track physical fitness.
  • Another driver behind the use of fitness apps is the cost associated with going to the gym versus the relative cost of using a fitness app.



  • Kfit has been active since 2015 and offers one of the most diverse opportunities in a fitness app with over 10,000 classes.
  • Kfit has also acquired an IPO of $55 million in Hong Kong.


  • GuavaPass has also been active since 2015 is another leading fitness app company in Hong Kong.
  • It is branded as the largest health and fitness company in Asia and the Middle East.
  • GuavaPass offers access to 110 studios/gyms in Hong Kong.
  • It has $5 million in revenue.


  • ClassPass acquired $85 million in investments for a global expansion tactic, which included Hong Kong.
  • It finally opened up in Hong Kong in 2018.
  • One of the reasons for its popularity is the use of free trial offers, which many other companies do not have.
  • ClassPass also offers over 10,000 gyms and wellness partners.


In this research, for age reference, children were stated to be between ages 7-12, adolescents 13-19, adults 20-59, and elderly 60-69. Below are the reasons for classifying the above as trends.

Trend #1:

This trend came from a government compiled census, which overviews a proportion of its citizens for random testing of physical fitness year-over-year to view specific fitness trends throughout multiple residents, such as the length of time citizens perform fitness activities.

Trend #2:

Again this trend began at a compiled census, which overviews a proportion of its citizens for random testing of physical fitness year-over-year to view specific fitness trends throughout multiple residents. We then opted to expand on the information available from the census. While reviewing Hong Kong Walking Habits, we found information on gyms in Hong Kong; there was an 8% increase in the number of gyms being built. Following this information, we found information regarding current trends at gyms, which included the cost and use of trainers as well as, noticed that boutique gyms are one of the most frequently built gyms this year. We then continued to expand on that information and found that Barre 2 Barre was one of the leading companies in this trend with having over 25,000 subscribers on two islands and a CAGR of 12-15% this year.

Trend #3:

This trend also came from a government compiled census which overviews a proportion of its citizens for random testing of physical fitness year-over-year to view specific fitness trends throughout multiple residents, such as the attitudes towards fitness.

Trend #4:

For information regarding fitness apps in Hong Kong and the trend drivers, we came across a scholarly article stating that the main driver behind Hong Kong's use of fitness apps was due to them being so technologically savvy. We also inferred that the cost associated with Boutique Gyms (see trainer costs) would also be a driving trend, as the apps tend to push their products by stating that they are cheaper than any gym. We then looked for information regarding top fitness apps in Hong Kong and based on available usage, investment, and revenue information.

From Part 01
  • "The group met for teacher training each day, and were joined for some sessions by new students. Rishi also taught two of Jina Lee’s morning studio classes. "
  • "Everyone in the training group felt that this visit was a great step forward in Korea. The four days passed very quickly, and everyone wished they had more time together."
  • "According to the survey, about 79.5 percent of respondents stated that they did yoga to improve their body shape or lose weights."
  • "Working out at home, often referred to as “home training” in Korea, is rising as a trend among busy modern consumers."
  • "Along with the fad, there has been a rise in sales of exercise equipment for those opting to break a sweat at home. In January, sales of yoga mats rose 36 percent at online retailer Gmarket compared to the previous month. Sales of yoga towels rose 276 percent, while sales of cycling machines rose 134 percent in the same period. "
  • "In 2012, some 69 patents were submitted for home exercise equipment, according to the Korea Intellectual Property Office. Last year, the number more than doubled to 152. "
  • "Yoga has caught on in South Korea and is now a craze among the people, particularly in the national capital, Seoul. And believe it or not, a young man from India, Abhijit Ghosh, is the most popular teacher of yoga in this city. "
  • "“The demand for yoga teachers has shot up since 2006 as nearly every Korean youth now wants to learn this ancient Indian science,” Ghosh said in a conversation with DNA."
  • "The South Korean gyms, health & fitness clubs market is expected to generate total revenues of $940.3m in 2018, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2% between 2014 and 2018."
  • "The performance of the market is forecast to follow a similar pattern with an anticipated CAGR of 1.9% for the five-year period 2018 - 2023, which is expected to drive the market to a value of $1,034.3m by the end of 2023."
From Part 03
  • "For a long time fitness training was frowned upon in China, but through Western influences and government initiatives, the enormous country is discovering sports. Trend sports like CrossFit are booming, and small boutique gyms are competing with the big chains."
  • "In August 2017, China’s top fitness app, Keep, reported that it had reached 100 million users in China, compared to 23 million in the US and 20 million in Europe. The app allows users to create custom workout programs so you can work out anytime, anywhere – all while connecting with your friends to share and comment on their workouts and progress."
  • "In 2017, Xiaomi’s fitness tracker had 17 percent of the industry’s global market share, overtaking Apple and Fitbit. This despite the fact that 95 percent of its sales were from China."
  • "Regardless, cities like Shanghai and Beijing have exploded in terms of CrossFit affiliates. Shanghai has 24 boxes, according to CrossFit’s official country map, and Max Ma, who runs the One Nation box in the city, and is also one of the managers of the Asia CrossFit Championship, said local denizens have taken to the sport for a number of reasons."