Fitness First splurges B1bn to expand

Fitness First splurges B1bn to expand

Personal training gains in popularity

British-based Fitness First (Thailand) plans to spend 1 billion baht this year to open four new fitness clubs and develop digital communications tools.

An instructor gives advice to members at a Fitness First training session in Thailand. The company plans to launch a network marketing campaign next month to allow its members to move between branches at no extra charge. It operates 27 clubs in Bangkok and upcountry.

The move is aimed at attracting new members and satisfying existing ones amid intense competition.

Managing director Mark Buchanan said Fitness First would continue to invest more in Thailand, as the fitness industry showed positive signs despite the local economic slowdown.

"Health-related businesses still have huge room to grow, because Thais are more health-conscious," he said.

Company revenue grew by 10% last year, with operations ballooning to 1,400 staff and 66,000 members nationwide.

A survey by Fitness First found 6.2% of its members used gym services more due to increased exercise classes and activities.

Convenience also ranked highly, so the company wants to add gyms that are close to members' homes or workplaces.

Fitness First plans to launch a network marketing campaign next month to allow its members to move between branches at no extra charge. It operates 27 clubs in Bangkok and upcountry.

Mr Buchanan said four more gyms were planned this year to reinforce its brand and network, at Crystal SB mall on Ratchaphruek Road, AIA Capital Center, CentralPlaza Rama 2 and Crystal Park.

It also expects to move the gym at Fashion Island to The Promenade mall on Ram Intra Road.

He said going to the gym has to be fun to draw regular users, so Fitness First increased its classes 4,331 a week from 2,580.

Its members are also keen on personal training (PT) programmes to maximise their time, money and results.

"PT programmes now represent 25% of our total revenue in Thailand, tops in the company's global network," said Mr Buchanan.

Fitness First (Thailand) also launched a flexible PT programme offering 30 minutes training or training with a buddy.

Every staff member is required to spend 10% of their working time training and learning more about sports science.

The company plans to launch a 250-million-baht digital platform called CustomFit that connects a member's daily life with exercise data to adjust their workout plan.

The Thai fitness business is worth 5 billion baht with 200,000 members and 480 operators nationwide. It is predicted to grow by 10-20% per year.

There is vast potential to grow, but fitness operators need quality human resources and attention to customer concerns as the industry faces a labour shortage.

The firm projects revenue growth of 10% this year based on 75,000 members.



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