The fitness sector is gaining momentum

China’s sports industry continued to flourish in 2023 amid an increased focus on personalized services and a boom in both elite and mainstream events.

A notable trend at this year’s China International Sporting Goods Expo was that an increasing number of domestic companies shifted their focus from manufacturing and selling sports equipment to providing comprehensive services to a wide range of customers, from schools to clubs and communities.

Personalized services, as well as the integration of user demographics and usage scenarios, have received greater attention.

Gao Yunqing (front, C), a CrossFit instructor, explains as CrossFit beginners learn how to use the rowing machine in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality on May 13, 2023 (Xinhua)

“Fitness is a personalized activity, so there is a huge market. Customized services will be the driving force of the sporting goods industry,” said Luo Jie, vice president and general secretary of the China Sporting Goods Association.

Many companies are accelerating their transformation and building efforts to expand their market prospects, he added.

Taking steps

In 2023, China witnessed a resurgence in the popularity of marathons. A total of 133 road races across the country were recorded between January and June, according to the Chinese Athletics Association. Over the weekend of November 25-26, for example, over 20 official races were held in China.

The Beijing Marathon, considered the country’s premier marathon, attracted more than 130,000 applicants hoping to take one of the 30,000 places on offer in the race’s ballot.

Running fever has a huge economic impact. The Nanchang Marathon, for example, generated revenue of 125 million yuan (about $17.6 million).

“Hosting marathon races has become a key driving force for economic and social development in Jiangxi province,” said Li Xiaoping, director of the Jiangxi Provincial Sports Bureau.

Major international events such as the Chengdu Universiade and the Hangzhou Asian Games, as well as professional leagues such as the Chinese Super League (CSL) and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), also boost local economic growth.

Even amateur sporting events in rural areas have been successful.

“Cun Chao”, a rural football league established in Rongjiang County, Guizhou Province in Southwest China, attracts an average crowd of 50,000 per game.

Basketball and volleyball also have their own village tournaments.

“Whether in urban or rural settings, sports play an increasingly important role. Sports build closer ties between people and cities, and between people and villages. This reflects the continuous progress in rural development,” said Wang Xueli, director of Tsinghua University’s Sports Industry Development Research Center.

Out is in

Outdoor sports in general are on the rise in China this year. From city streets to country trails, people enjoyed hiking, running and biking.

In Southwest China’s Yunnan Province alone, the number of people engaged in outdoor activities at least once a week has exceeded 22 million, according to the Yunnan Provincial Sports Bureau.

“This is a positive social phenomenon, which shows that people are placing more and more importance on their physical and mental health and the connection with nature,” said Huang Jin, an official at the General Administration of Sports of China.

“It also highlights the improvement of relevant infrastructure in China.”

The China Outdoor Sports Industry Development Report (2022-23) revealed a 79% increase in orders related to outdoor sports in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, and a 221% jump in compared to 2019

The Action Plan to Promote the Construction of Outdoor Sports Facilities and Improve Services (2023-2025), released in October by the National Development and Reform Commission together with the GASC and other departments, sets a target of 3 trillion yuan for the outdoor industry by 2025.

“Policy support will focus on cultivating branded outdoor sports projects, actively introducing more prominent events, and advancing multiple initiatives to stimulate the vigorous growth of outdoor sports,” said Yang Xuedong, director of GASC’s economic department. .

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