American fitness-centre operator Bally has set up a joint venture with China Sports Industry Co to set up health clubs in China. The first Bally-branded club opened in central Beijing in May and the venture will develop additional clubs in Beijing, Shanghai and other coastal cities.
According to Bally, the awarding of the 2008 Olympics to Beijing created a good opportunity for expansion into China. Obesity is becoming a mounting problem in the country, which has only 750 gyms, or one for every 1.7m people, while the US has one for every 16,000 people. Bally’s partner, China Sports, conducts sports research and runs sports training programmes.