BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
Fitness Zone (FZ)’s recent expansion in Shenzen signals the homegrown gym’s readiness to strive in the big and competitive Chinese market, said its owner.
The latest franchise is the fitness centre’s second branch in China after Chongqing and is aimed at catering for the middle and high-income earners, Wu Chun, managing director of FZ told The Bruneian recently.
Speaking of the presence of other health clubs in Shenzen, Wu Chun said knowing the business focus and understanding consumer behaviour is essential in a highly competitive market.
“Competition is very high in China and most of the clubs are new operators but I’ve been in this business for 15 years. I learned from mistakes and I know what is right and wrong… I understand the local culture, consumer behaviour which is different than Brunei,” he said.
The Bruneian entrepreneur and celebrity saw the booming Chinese economy in recent years as the “perfect opportunity” for the gym’s entry into China.
“The fitness centre business market in China is growing really fast and they are a lot of wealthy people who realise that their health is important. They do not mind spending their money on gyms (membership fees),” he said.
FZ’s membership fee in China is higher than its Bruneian branches and customers over there are not complaining, according to Wu Chun.
“It is about 30 per cent more than Brunei and they can buy it. In China, it is different as they look for quality and given our target market in the area which are middle to high class working professionals,” he said.
“When we did our pre-sale before the club was ready, the response was not good but once the place completed, they signed up on our standard rate… they don’t care about the offer, they want to see the actual venue.”
“The membership fee is $1,200 for one year and for personal trainings, some customers will buy 80 sessions for $6,000 and pay at once which does not happen in Brunei but it is quite often (trend) there,” Wu Chun added.
Despite the busy and fast-paced lifestyle in China, gym-goers still manage to find time to work out and gyms are normally full during lunch, said the fitness enthusiast, adding that the members are mostly below 40 years’ old.
Although being a well-known celebrity and public figure in China helps boost the popularity of his business, Wu Chun believes that good customers’ experience in the gym remains crucial in keeping Fitness Zone’s reputation.
“It (being a celebrity) does help a little but for me, I want to give them the feeling of coming back to their own house… I want the gym to be like their second home. It’s their experience that matters,” he said.
The fitness centre is the fourth branch of FZ and the largest in size compared to the other three premises in Kiulap, Serusop and Chongqing.
The Shenzhen branch sits at 50,000 square feet while the Kiulap branch, which is FZ Brunei headquarters, has 40,000 square feet size.