Japanese fitness chains head to Southeast Asia

Japanese fitness chains head to Southeast Asia
This Renaissance fitness club opened last year in Vietnam's Binh Duong Province.

TOKYO - Japanese fitness club operators, stuck in a shrinking, aging home market, are making inroads into Southeast Asia, where the bulging middle classes might want to thin down.

According to the Japan Productivity Center, Japan's fitness club market was valued at 424 billion yen (S$4.82 billion) in 2013, up 3 per cent.

At home, Japanese fitness centres are trying to attract the elderly by developing wellness programs. But they plan to target young people overseas.

They will have competition. Chains from the US and Europe already operate in Southeast Asia, offering cardio machines, strength-training machines, free weights as well as other equipment and activities.

The Japanese chains will focus on Southeast Asian countries where US and European gyms have little presence.

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