Digital Fitness Market China

Digital Fitness Market in China: New Trends & Marketing Tips

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The strong desire of Chinese consumers to live a healthy and aspirational lifestyle has led China’s online fitness market to grow exponentially over the past few years. In fact, today’s modern apps are now more than capable of accommodating virtual fitness activities like engaging in digital gyms and watching exercise video routines.

Due to the growing number of fitness enthusiasts in China, the overall market for these applications has a projected value of $28.36 billion in 2024.

For international brands wanting to expand customer relationships in this market, here are new trends and tips to ensure a successful local launch.


Overview Of China’s Smart Fitness Market

When discussing China’s health and fitness market, popular segments like traditional gyms and fitness clubs often come to mind. In fact, the key stakeholders of this industry are often related products like fitness equipment and dietary supplements.

However, when the pandemic struck the domestic fitness industry, the trends and needs of Chinese consumers also shifted. To maintain their healthy lifestyle amidst face-to-face restrictions, locals tried new ways to exercise, leading them to find online fitness courses and apps.

With consumers relying on fitness apps for training tips and workout routines, the shift in industry trends primarily affected the demand for exercise equipment.


Image by Freepik


Fitness classes were once only happening in physical gyms. However, these days, professional trainers and other fitness enthusiasts with personal training studios can share their exercise routines and health tips on online platforms to reach their target audience.

Eventually, apps became increasingly popular business models in China’s sports and fitness industry. Statista reported that local online platforms and services had garnered 138 million monthly active users at the height of these new fitness trends.

Nevertheless, the rise of the digital fitness market did not drive traditional gym operators out of business. Instead, it has become an alternative business model. As of 2021, the Chinese market still has 71.45 million people regularly attending physical fitness clubs.


Key Figures of the China Fitness Market

The digitalization of the Chinese fitness industry brings forth different consumer habits and trends foreign brands must watch out for. Here are key figures that will help you formulate a better and more effective digital marketing strategy:

  • 52% of the major fitness platform user base in China is female
  • By 2028, the digital fitness industry in China is projected to reach a market value of $38.82 billion
  • 41% of fitness platform users are under 25 years old
  • 7% of people using fitness apps are from third-tier cities


Chin's digital fitness market key figures


Top Trends in China’s Digital Fitness Industry

1.   Traditional Gyms vs. Online Fitness Apps

While the digital fitness trend did shift the focus of many health and wellness enthusiasts in China, foreign brands must remember that traditional gyms are still their biggest competitors. As we already mentioned, local gym-goers cover about 5.02% of the Chinese overall population.

Like fitness apps and influencers sharing their wellness journey from their personal training studios, gyms are becoming more innovative. They also have online offerings like fitness videos and customized exercise routine plans.

Seeing how these trends continue to intertwine, it’s safe to say that the Chinese fitness market will stay heavily segmented between these two business models.


2.   Customized & Personalized Fitness Experience

The majority of the Chinese market seeks out fitness studios and apps for the sole reason of having a healthier lifestyle. However, younger consumers are noticeably looking for personalized fitness classes and experiences.

Several apps seem to understand this demand, seeing how most have AI-driven technology to cater to their user base’s specific health and wellness needs.

To accommodate this trend, most of these platforms let their consumers modify their daily workout routines and dietary preferences. Users can even receive virtual coaching sessions from their fitness trainers according to the schedule they pick.


Keep fitness app China

Keep Fitness APP China


The Keep China Fitness App is the perfect example of a successful platform in the Chinese digital fitness industry, with over 13.54 million monthly active users in 2023. The app continues to attract local consumers because of its AI-integrated algorithm that allows them to create custom routines exclusively from its 800-item exercise database.

On top of these exercise programs, this popular fitness app allows users to choose their training styles based on their health goals and available training equipment. The most popular fitness activities selected on the platform are yoga and pilates since they require minimal to zero additional exercise gear.


3.   The Rise of Wearable Fitness Equipment

As the years pass, fitness equipment suppliers have also learned to adapt to the changing trends of the Chinese health and wellness market.

Smartwatches, health trackers, and other wearable devices that can be connected to apps are experiencing significant demand. By 2024, experts predict that the segment will reach 52.3 billion yuan in market value.

Since it’s an integrated technology, the consumer base of the wearable fitness industry in China is predominantly composed of younger demographics. The market mainly serves millennials and Gen Z.

These groups are more tech-savvy and health-conscious, and they show a higher interest in investing in fitness and health-related technologies.


Wearable devices on Taobao, Tmall and JD China

Wearable devices on Taobao, Tmall and JD


With the combined demand of the virtual fitness trend and sports market, these wearable items are highly sought-after on e-commerce platforms like Alibaba’s Tmall and

And unlike other markets in China, it’s worth noting that the local health and fitness industry is not only dominated by global brands like Apple and Fitbit.

Looking at the current business scene, foreign marketers will face more competition from local brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi. Understanding these competitive dynamics is crucial to enter the local market successfully.


4.   Incorporating Mental Health & Wellness

The fitness industry in China no longer solely refers to the physical well-being of an individual. Like the rest of the world, the Chinese market is leaning on modern health solutions, recognizing the connection between physical fitness and mental wellness.

Digital platforms focusing on mental health, such as meditation and mindfulness apps, are now more popular than ever. Users can now integrate them with fitness apps or other wearables to make their health management system more accessible.

The integration of physical and mental wellness solutions is something consumers won’t be able to find in traditional fitness studios and gyms. Because of this, the number of users engaging with these apps has been growing steadily, indicating a solid market potential in the long run.


5.   Fostering a Community & Social Engagement

If you look at the market’s key players, it’s clear that China’s fitness industry shows a strong preference for apps that offer community features. These functions may include elements of social media integration, group challenges, leaderboards, and interactive routine classes.

These features encourage a sense of competition and community participation, which can significantly increase user retention and brand recognition.

Social platforms like WeChat and Weibo are not just for personal endeavors but also where users often share their fitness achievements, seek advice, and participate in group challenges.

This consumer behavior presents an opportunity for foreign marketers to engage with their potential audiences. It’s a chance to utilize them for marketing campaigns, community building, and customer engagement.


Keep on WeChat, Little Red book and Douyin

Keep Fitness App on WeChat, Little Red Book and Douyin


On top of that, many companies have proven live streaming and online classes to be effective mediums, even after the pandemic restriction was lifted. It’s also why collaborating with fitness influencers tends to garner more online traffic and potential revenues than other traditional marketing methods.


6.   The Growing Demand for Yoga in First-tier Cities

The popularity of yoga is soaring in China’s major cities, particularly among young women. This surge in interest is not linear and can easily be attributed to various external factors, including the desire for a well-toned physique, traditional beauty standards, enhanced cardiovascular health, mental wellness, energy booster, and body pain relief.

Moreover, today’s yoga practices are considered more than just maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For many enthusiasts, it’s a complete social experience. These users often find themselves in a community of like-minded individuals committed to fitness and overall wellness.


Image by tirachardz on Freepik


The enthusiasm for this exercise has led this niche market to form an engaged community that extends beyond physical classes. According to iResearch, around 64.2% of the yoga fitness population utilizes apps for exercise sessions.

When online, these users are more likely to exchange stories, share wellness tips, start social engagements, and recommend fitness products and services to their family and friends.


7.   Chinese Women Are Wellness Experts

Whether you’re trying to sell yoga mats or get more people to download your fitness app, it’s worth noting that Chinese women are a significant part of your target market.

When marketing to this demographic, it’ll help you to remember that they are seeking unique fitness regimes according to their individual needs and a holistic approach to health.

Modern Chinese women strongly prefer specialized workout classes, like spinning, pilates, and high-intensity interval training. However, you’ll be pleased to know that their interest in health and fitness is not limited to just physical exercise.


Image by Freepik


You can also see these individuals engage in activities that promote mental and spiritual health, such as yoga, tai chi, and meditation. These women place a high value on building a supportive and interactive community within these fitness groups.

Thanks to this, the community-oriented approach of digital apps encourages this consumer group to not only achieve their own wellness goals but also to create an inclusive environment for other users.


Best Digital Marketing Tips for Fitness Brands in China

●     Collaborate with Chinese Fitness Influencers

In a survey conducted by Statista, it was reported that 67% of locals willingly bought products that are promoted by Key Opinion Leaders. With this level of trust from their followers, it’s a no-brainer that influencer endorsements have a high potential to generate revenue as long as they’re equipped with the right marketing strategy.

By collaborating with influencers who prioritize audience engagement and are experts in their fields, fitness brands can tap into their reach and influence.


Fitness KOL on Xiaohongshu


The KOLs known within the fitness industry in China are scattered on different platforms. There are thousands of influencers in each social app, so it’s wise to carefully weigh your options instead of picking the first one you see on the list.

Choosing an influencer with the most extensive following may be tempting, but remember to select the one whose reputation and followers align with your brand’s vision.

In some cases, micro-influencers with a deeper connection to your niche often boast higher engagement rates and could be more cost-effective.


●     Understand Your Target Audience & Identify Competitors

Researching your target audience’s demographics, preferences, and behaviors is non-negotiable, especially when navigating in a market as segmented as China. And, of course, it includes the Chinese digital fitness market.

Not all consumers who might be interested in your brand are in the same age bracket or have similar reasons for availing your services and buying your products.

For example, younger audiences may prefer high-intensity workouts, while older groups might lean towards yoga or Tai Chi. You can count on tools like the Baidu Index to provide specific insights about different consumer interests and behavior patterns you want to know about.


Position your brand


You can try to study successful competitors to learn about effective practices. The best strategy is to look at how they engage with their audience, the types of campaigns they run, and their product offerings.

While navigating the local competitive landscape, develop content strategies that resonate with your targeted audience. You must include elements unique to your brand and make your offerings stand out among domestic and international competitors.


●     Build a Solid Presence on Local Social Media Apps

China’s social media landscape provides marketers with varied options, so it’s crucial to identify which can help your brand reach your intended audience. Depending on specific marketing goals, you can utilize popular platforms like WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin.



For instance, WeChat’s Mini Programs are mainly used for e-commerce purposes. However, a fitness brand can utilize these small apps for membership services, booking classes, and sharing fitness tips. Through this, you’re providing an integrated user experience for your potential customers.

Meanwhile, Douyin caters more to a younger user base that is accustomed to seeing short-form videos. The content creation process for this platform is different, as well as the appeal of the promotional materials once it’s posted.


●     Consider Brand Localization and Cultural Nuances

Foreign brands that fail to adapt to local preferences and cultural nuances often struggle to survive in the competitive domestic business scene. So, if you want to generate traffic and revenue, you must tailor your brand to fit Chinese culture and consumer trends.

This process could include everything from the brand name and logo to your marketing campaigns on social and e-commerce platforms.


localize your website for China


It’s also important to note that while English is prevalent online globally, most search engines and social apps in China are predominantly in Simplified Chinese. These platforms are also known to favor content written in the local language.

Having said this, you must ensure that all web content and marketing materials are available in the local language. Not only is it crucial for your SEO strategy, but it is also essential for effective communication.


Key Drivers of China’s Digital Health and Fitness Market

The digital fitness industry in China is experiencing rapid changes. With the continued evolution of trends and consumer habits, it’s obvious that this business segment will not slow down anytime soon. Here are some of the driving factors that propelled its growth:


  • Chinese Middle Class & Rising Disposable Income

The continuous growth of China’s middle class resulted in an impressive increase in disposable income. Because of this, the demographic showed a noticeable interest in investing in health and wellness offerings. This financial flexibility also enables individuals to afford virtual gym memberships, purchase fitness equipment, and invest in quality health supplements. It’s a significant factor to consider when marketing your fitness brand, especially if you’re targeting customers in urban areas with a higher concentration of wealth.


  • Health Policy Initiatives Led by the Chinese Government

Government initiatives like “Healthy China 2030” are a state-sponsored effort that mainly aims to improve the country’s attitude and perspective on health. These campaigns often include public awareness drives, incentives for physical activity, and the development of facilities. Promoting health awareness publicly makes these campaigns crucial in stimulating how potential consumers will view the local digital fitness market.


  • Western Cultural Influences

Intensive exercise routines and active lifestyles are Western cultures that have left an impression on the Chinese fitness population. This influence is partly driven by the globalized nature of media and the aspirational aspects of Western lifestyles that the local market desires to experience.


  • Social Media Influence

An average Chinese social media user spends at least one-third of their waking hours scrolling through these apps, so it’s no wonder these platforms have significantly shaped public perceptions about health and fitness. Influencers, in particular, serve as role models and sources of inspiration in this market segment. As they continue to virtually promote fitness routines, healthy diets, and lifestyle changes, more and more of their followers are going to follow their purchases and recommendations.


Image by Freepik


Quick Q&A

Is fitness big in China?

Yes, fitness is a significant part of the Chinese lifestyle. The country’s health and wellness awareness is mainly driven by urbanization and an expanding middle class. You can witness the growth of this demand with the increase in gym memberships, the popularity of exercise apps, and the growing number of health-related products and services.

Another indicator of the country’s dedication to fitness is the Chinese government’s emphasis on health, as seen in initiatives like “Healthy China 2030.”

Are digital gyms common in China?

Digital gyms and online fitness platforms have been a common phenomenon in China, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic was happening worldwide. Understandably, this event has triggered the shift towards virtual solutions. The integration of technology into fitness trends, such as virtual reality workouts, streaming of live fitness classes, and interactive fitness apps, has also become instrumental to the rise of these digital fitness venues.

What is the largest fitness app in China?

Keep has maintained its position as a leading app within the fitness industry in China, with a user base of 300 million users. It offers a variety of features, including workout guides, fitness tracking, and personalized training programs. Understanding its appeal to Chinese consumers can provide valuable insights for foreign marketers.


Ready To Dominate The Digital Fitness Market in China? Get In Touch With Us Today!

Navigating the digital fitness market in China presents unique challenges for international brands. While offering immense potential, this market is characterized by stringent health-related product and service regulations and rapidly evolving trends that demand in-depth local knowledge and expertise.

Don’t let the complexities of the local market! Our experienced team is here to guide you through every twist and turn, unlocking your brand’s full potential and ensuring resounding success in China’s dynamic business landscape.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


We can help you utilize the power of modern digital marketing, from crafting compelling ad campaigns to harnessing the power of search engine platforms and social media channels. Contact us today to learn more about the Chinese fitness market!


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Digital Fitness & Well-Being – China
Digital Gyms And Digital Fitness Market In China

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