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More Chinese go gym for fitness
Date:2012/3/26      View:3069
Membership of gyms by males and related book sales on the rise

A growing desire by men for "six-pack" abdominal muscles is costing them time and money and expanding the market for the fitness and slimming industries in China.

Liang Zhongxin, a 27-year-old sales specialist at an electronic appliance supplier, paid 6,000 yuan ($952) for membership of a fitness club last month. He said it would be a most worthwhile investment if he successfully achieves his goal of weight loss.

For Liang, 6,000 yuan is no small sum - his monthly income is around 4,500 yuan.

Liang said he wants to lose 20 kilograms and regain confidence and a positive self image. He weighs around 98 kg and is about 175 centimeters tall.

Liang's boss warned him that being overweight may damage his career prospects.

The salesman said he had noticed that in many industries employees with good figures were favored while overweight workers might be labeled as lazy and not trustworthy, even though it was unfair.

"In the past only women were obsessed with losing weight and shaping their figures but recently men have also got in on the act," he said.

The slimming and fitness industries in China now look to men as they attach increasing importance to their weight and personal image.

"Time changes and ideas change. When I was 40, a man with a round belly was thought to be a successful businessman but now an overweight man, despite his age, is considered to be inferior," said Lu Qingtian, a 53-year-old senior manager with a garment factory.

China has more than 325 million people who are overweight or even suffering from obesity. The figure may double in the next two decades. With surging numbers of obese people, the total value of the fitness and slimming industries in China may reach 70 billion yuan, according to a report by China Youth Daily.

Sun Xiaoyang, a sales manager at a Shanghai-based gym chain, said in 2011 the company opened three branches in Shanghai. Each recruited some 300 members within just one week. The chain is planning to open five more in 2012, said Sun.

Sun said he noticed an increasing number of men were joining fitness clubs and spending hours on the equipment and doing aerobics.

"Some of them are trying to lose weight but most of them are already well-built. They want to become more muscular," said Sun.

Sun said, unlike overweight women, obese men are too shy to expose their figures in public.

"They tend to hire a private coach or they stop coming after two or three visits," said Sun.

The price of annual membership for gyms ranges from 800 yuan to 4,000 yuan depending on access to training courses and equipment.
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