Three ways technology is changing China's fitness environment


(Photo: CGTN)

Statistics show there's been a consistent rise in the number of people exercising in China since 2012. It seems that the fitness trend has become mainstream.

Our increased connectivity has also played a role in driving up the popularity of getting fit. 

First, the internet has made fitness more affordable.

Although the number of domestic gym have skyrocketed, expensive membership fees and personal training fees are still a high threshold for many people.

In first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai, a membership fee can range from 4,000 to 10,000 yuan, while personal trainers can cost about 400 to 600 yuan per session. With the combined membership fee hitting the tens of thousands, this number can equal a whole month's salary for some. Because of this, it can undermine the ability to "get healthy" in the first place.

Luckily, the internet has been a great resource of free instructional videos or fitness apps like Keep, which has over 200 million registered users and has a huge collection of workout plans. Free information from the new platform has made fitness ever affordable.

Second, the internet has made getting fit more convenient.

Traditionally, most people may think that going to gyms is the only option for getting a slender body. However, the internet has proven that this is wrong. Workouts should not be limited by space, time or form.

When you grab your mobile phone, and open up an app like Keep or Nike Training Club at home after work, you will soon figure out that workouts are so handy and can be done indoors or outdoors. An ab workout can take as little as three minutes, with many workouts requiring nothing more than your own body weight.

Now, workouts are not only in the brains of professionals, they are in the "cloud" shared by the masses under it. In China, there are more than a hundred fitness or lifestyle apps ranging from bodybuilding to postnatal rehabilitation, from healthy dieting to posture correction.

In one word, fitness is increasingly convenient. This is a crucial premise for creating a sustainable and healthy lifestyle and the internet makes it possible for a large number of people.

Third, the internet has made fitness more personalized.

People are different genetically and mentally from each other. What fits you might kill another, the same applies to fitness.

As internet-based techniques like artificial intelligence (AI) and big data step into fitness, in the form of apps or wearables, the information they provide can be invaluable. By recording and analyzing your workouts, it can then give you personalized recommendations back. These recommendations are based on AI's calculation of your potential, physiological data, peer's average and your pre-set fitness goal. These parameters give AI a comprehensive understanding of your status quo, and prepare it for giving you better options.

Finally, according to statistics, there is a much higher penetration rate in the first and second-tier cities in terms of the use of fitness apps which is around 75.5 percent, whereas the number is much lower in the third and fourth-tier cities. This contrast should not be ignored. By closing this gap, we will be a step closer to the real "national fitness."