CHINA Pandemic may change fitness industry forever


Pandemic may change fitness industry forever

17:54, May 22, 2020

Online fitness classes boom with gyms shuttered during lockdown — a trend some say is here to stay in the post-pandemic world. Kathy Zhang reports from Hong Kong.

Ng wun-po, a fitness trainer and actor, works with his wife, a yoga instructor, in the video to show how couples work out at home. (Photo: China Daily)

More than 1,000 gyms across Hong Kong were ordered to close for weeks because of the coronavirus, and as a result, online fitness classes have flourished.

Ng wun-po, a fitness instructor, has put all his efforts into producing videos to teach people how to keep fit at home using fitness equipment.

Ng works for different fitness centers. One of his employers, Bounce Limited, a studio that uses gymnastics trampoline for working out, announced it was closing permanently three days after the government ordered gyms and spas to close on March 28.

Ng records about three fitness-related videos every week and uploads them to Facebook and Instagram.

Ng believes that uploading videos is an opportunity to share useful home-workout knowledge amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers the industry a way out of its malaise.

In 2019, the city's fitness industry was said to worth HK$2.8 billion (US$361 million), according to Fitness Guide, a Hong Kong-based community organization, which provides information about the city's fitness industry.

The industry is one of the hardest-battered industries amid the pandemic. Some small fitness studios shut down; the city's hundreds of thousands of full-time gym trainers have suffered a plunge in income for months.

Some laid-off gym trainers are working for delivery services, Terence Chau, CEO of Asian Academy for Sports and Fitness Professionals (AASFP), told China Daily.

To maintain the bonds with clients during weeks-long service suspension, many fitness centers and trainers like Ng have provided prerecorded video classes or taken online livestreaming sessions via Facebook, Zoom and Instagram for their workout-starved members.

Pure, one of the biggest fitness and yoga chains in Hong Kong, is one of them. On May 13, Pure launched Zoom livestream classes for its clients.

Livestream tutorial sessions give clients an opportunity to keep in touch with their trainers during the special time, even if clients stay in different countries because of the social distancing measures or border restrictions, Chau said.

Chau, also a physiotherapist and resistance and Pilates instructor, in recent months has been providing livestream tutorial classes to his students once or twice every week. Some of his students are in South Korea and Taiwan.

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