Health and Fitness Trends in Asia
Dec 9, 2020
It should come as no surprise that Asia’s massive population and highly educated workforce continue to help drive prosperity throughout the region, including South Asia such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, to East Asian countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Franchising has benefited directly from this prosperity during the past few decades in Asia with many international brands like Ace Hardware, Little Caesars Pizza, Snap Fitness, Church’s / Texas Chicken, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC, Chili’s and many more staking their claim in these lucrative markets. It started with mostly food & beverage (F&B) restaurants, and have led to many other franchise sectors, including retail, fashion and apparel, education and training, services, hospitality, and even health and fitness franchises.
Asia’s increasing wealth and prosperity has been attributed to rising incomes and a large and maturing workforce – a workforce that day by day is highly cognizant on prolonging their health, fitness, and longevity. Take South Korea for example, many health and fitness trends can be easily seen in modern day Koreans.
Why Health and Fitness in Korea?
- The typical 52-hour work week in Korea is famous, or infamous, for keeping Koreans busy at work, and workers joining gyms and letting off steam is a direct result of a hectic work schedule.
- While obesity rates in Korea are among the lowest in the OECD countries, they are increasing steadily. About 4 percent of the adult population is obese and about 30 percent are overweight, with overweight rates expected to climb further by 5 percent within ten years.
- Child obesity rates are also relatively high and especially for boys. OECD projections show a slight decrease in overweight children and a stabilisation of child obesity over the next 10 years.
- Younger adults have been struggling with unemployment and low pay stemming from chronic sluggish economic growth. It is getting more difficult for them to be financially well off, and many are forced to live with their parents, oftentimes receiving financial support from their parents as well. However, living at home allows them to spend their incomes in other areas, and going to the gym and working out in a social environment is more often than not a much-needed escape from a crowded and noisy home.
- In 2019, the number of Koreans aged 65 and over accounted for more than 15 percent of the total population for the first time. Maturing consumers are now more than ever focused on health and fitness, whether at the gym or at home.
According to Report Linker, the South Korea health & fitness clubs and gyms market was expected to reach US$940.3 million in 2018. The study also observed that the fitness industry would grow by 1.9 percent between 2018 and 2023, reaching US$1,034.3 million by the end of 2023.
The key factors above have created the perfect storm for the health and fitness industries in South Korea. Gym memberships, while not as high as they are in the USA and western world, continue to climb. Other major fitness trends include:
- A yoga craze among South Koreans. A recent report observed that every youth in South Korea wanted to learn yoga, increasing the demand for yoga teachers.
- Per Statista’s report in 2017, 79.5 percent of South Koreans partaking in yoga did so to improve their body and lose weight, 16.9 percent to have a hobby, and 12.3 percent for pleasure.
- Home training, also known as working out at home, is also a rising fitness trend for South Koreans, especially for older Koreans. However, this is complicated by a rise in young adults living at home with their parents, making the home a less optimal choice for working out.
Fitness center franchise adapting to these fitness trends in Korea and Asia as a whole will benefit greatly. The sizable South Korean market presents real fitness franchise opportunities for established and proven fitness centre franchise, including fitness franchises such as US-based Snap Fitness, the world’s premier 24/7 technology focused fitness franchise with over 2,500 clubs worldwide.
Author: Sean T. Ngo is the CEO and Co-Founder of one of Asia’s leading franchise consultancy, VF Franchise Consulting. He is Vietnamese American and has been living in Vietnam for over 15 years. You can reach him at [email protected] or on LinkedIn.