Meanwhile, like the tourism and wellness sectors, the Philippine fitness industry has grown steadily through the years, mirroring the explosive growth of the fitness industry in the United States, which is now valued at over $15billion. In the last five years, home-based gyms and local branches of international health clubs alike have sprouted on many a street corner throughout the Philippines, alongside a start-up boom in new badminton courts and boxing gyms as well.
So significant has been the fitness industry’s growth in recent years that the Association of Fitness Professionals of the Philippines (AFPP), the oldest existing and the most respected fitness organization in the country, had decided to change its name to Fitness Network Philippines (FitPhil). FitPhil says this was done to expand its scope and cover not only fitness pros and enthusiasts but other professionals as well from such allied fields as medicine, health care, education, nutrition, sports conditioning, and athletic training.
One other highly visible sign that more and more Filipinos are embracing a fitness regimen is the growing number of local branches of international health clubs. For instance, Gold’s Gym, the largest gym chain in the world, now has six branches in the Philippines. Fitness First, which began in the United Kingdom, now boasts of 16 regular clubs and two Platinum clubs in the country. This worldwide network of over 550 clubs had opened its initial outlet in the country in October 2001 at the Robinsons Summit Center in Makati City.
Shirley Quejada, president of FitPhil and a fitness consultant, says this growth is because more Filipinos are now aware and educated about the benefits of fitness as a lifestyle. She also says the RP fitness industry has not saturated the local market, and that its growth would be fueled by entrepreneurs setting up in locations targeting the middle class and the masses.
“They comprise a greater percentage of our population, and yet we don’t have enough centers to service them,” Quejada says. “We still have not saturated the upper class market which has the most disposable income, but there is more room for growth in the middle class and the masses.”
She also reminds new health club owners to take a more holistic approach toward “mind-body wellness” and that fitness is but another type of service business. “Investing in the right people for your fitness/wellness business and making them grow with you is the key,” Quejada adds.
Maria Laurita “Cucuy” Elorde, who manages the Elorde Boxing Gym chain, says people will continue to pursue fitness despite the economic downturn because they will want to stay healthy. “Although we were affected by the slowdown and have had less visits from our students, they still go back, because boxing is not an expensive way to keep fit,” she tells Entrepreneur.