A lifelong health journey is fueling the fitness sector

Members attend a Pilates class at Pure Yoga Studio in the Jing’an Kerry Center in Shanghai in October. [Photo/China Daily]

The Lululemon/Pure store in Shanghai is tapping into China’s exercise craze

Climbing the curved staircase at Shanghai’s Jing’an Kerry Center, Lululemon’s largest location in the Asia-Pacific region, a fitness studio suddenly appears on the third floor.

It’s the brainchild of a recent innovation jointly developed by Pure Group and Lululemon, offering small group classes including Tai Chi yoga, Pilates, rings and more than 20 types of self-paced yoga and fitness classes.

At the new 400 square meter location, which consists of two classrooms, consumers can book sessions online and check in automatically by scanning codes on their phones upon arrival.

There are clean towels and training clothes ready for pickup at the door.

The store is decorated in earth tones, muddy reds and greens, with flowing lines, rounded corners and curves creating a lively and fluid atmosphere. At the reception, its food and beverage brand Nood Food is available in the mini bar to extend the food and beverage offering for members.

During the site’s opening ceremony, Jane Jiang, general manager of Pure China, said: “The store has redefined the advanced athletic scene and premium sports community as a gateway to seek expansion and development in the Chinese fitness market through collaboration with Lululemon to create better workouts.” and bringing prosperity to more people.”

The small studio was unveiled on the 10th anniversary of mainland China operations for the Pure Group, which has yoga and fitness studios in markets including Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and New York.

“Our presence has proven to have huge potential for high-end fitness studios that prioritize experiences and easy payment methods,” Jiang said, citing the recent ups and downs in the fitness sector across the country, which have led to the closure of many gyms and yoga chain stores. , which reduced consumer confidence.

Currently, the biggest driving force for the domestic sports industry is the increasing participation of women in sports yoga, city walks, flying discs and camping, said Adam Zhang, founder of Kei-solution Sports Consulting. The rise of the “she-sport” phenomenon has encouraged the development of fitness centers, the production of sports facilities and sportswear products across the country.

In particular, the yoga sector will continue to grow, Zhang said, adding that “Women are investing a lot in their well-being, whether it’s skin care and makeup, or wellness activities like yoga, to nurture the mind and body.” “

According to iResearch, in 2020 China’s yoga market has already reached 38.7 billion yuan ($5.3 billion), and is forecast to reach 56.1 billion yuan by the end of this year. Yoga apparel alone is estimated to be worth $1.6 billion in China in 2021, accounting for a 23 percent global share. The sector is expected to climb to more than $3 billion by 2028, according to KI Research.

Lululemon’s largest store in the Asia-Pacific region is located in the Jing’an Kerry Center in Shanghai. [Photo/China Daily]

Domestic sports giant Anta last month bought a 75.13 percent stake in Shanghai-based sportswear maker Maia Active to pursue a new market for women’s sportswear in the country. Anta said the Maia Active business has some market influence among female consumers, particularly in the yoga sports category, and has potential for future growth.

For leading global sportswear company Lululemon Athletica Inc, its revenue in China in the second quarter jumped 61 percent from a year earlier to $277 million, doubling the growth rate of 30 percent in the same period last year, driven mainly by expansion and growth store consumer demand, the company said. In the first half, of the 17 new stores Lululemon opened worldwide, nine were in China.

It seems natural that Pure’s membership numbers are on the rise this year, surpassing the 2021 peak, thanks in part to greater flexibility in working hours and growing awareness of wellness and health, the company said.

Most of its members are high-net-worth individuals, including corporate decision makers and senior executives, as well as trend-savvy consumers between the ages of 25 and 35.

“Younger consumers have joined us for sports training and social occasions, which encourages us to engage even more with trendy brands,” Jiang said. “Pure has become a modern personal label for younger generations to showcase their lifestyle.”

Pure’s member active participation rate is up 30 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year due to the company’s expansion in tutorials, classes and physical space.

For example, some studio balconies have been transformed into class locations to meet the demand of members who perform outdoors, Jiang said.

Pure’s business is split between yoga and fitness training in Shanghai. In Beijing, Pure’s two studios so far only offer yoga. The company added more workouts for specific sports this year.

As more people get outdoors for hiking, horseback riding, biking, camping and hiking, the company has designed cross-training classes to empower members’ ability to participate in more active outdoor sports.

Since the beginning of this year, classes that have a curative and healing function, both physically and mentally, have been popular.

At Pure, nearly 40 percent of the classes have medicinal components.

“Bookings for treatment and healing classes are often two or three times our actual capacity,” Jiang said. “We are gradually increasing the ratio of such courses.”

A financially sound and sustainable payment system is critical to the survival of fitness centers and has helped build trust among members, she said.

Pure, which requires monthly payments instead of long-term prepaid cards, has raised prices by 10 to 25 percent over last year, according to individual membership terms.

Jiang said the price increase was partly due to investing more in value-added classes and renovating facilities and products.

Returning to the new store format, in the short term, the company does not plan to open large locations, Jiang said.

“We’re exploring multiple options in terms of formats, specialties and highlights, as well as different sizes.”

The new studios could be a collaboration with other industries to develop different types of gyms, probably 1,000 to 2,000 square meters, she said.

Empowered by the growing ecology of the health, fitness and sportswear industry, Pure has a greater social responsibility to provide members with a sense of belonging and security, the CEO said.

Safety and efficiency are what Pure members demand most, inspiring a new category of business personal wellness trainers.

A lifelong injury-free fitness journey is on Pure’s agenda for China’s aging society, or what is often referred to as “lifestyle medicine” using lifestyle interventions as the primary way to treat chronic conditions. The solutions cover individual nutrition, fitness, pressure management and sleep, with real-time monitoring in the cloud. For example, with the support of a wellness coach for weight management, it should be gentle, effective and sustainable, Jiang said, rather than short-term methods that simply rely on dieting.

Kei-solution’s Zhang welcomed Pure’s latest innovations in class sizes and store formats. “It’s like five-star hotels that can offer good experiences for premium customers.” But it would be more fun for them to try niche hospitality experiences with special accents,” he said.

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