Skip to main content

MD of Brandwave Germany, Vicky Stickland and Account Manager Christian Reinhardt recently attended the third Economic Day of the German fitness industry hosted by The German Federation of Fitness and Health (DIFG). Throughout the day they looked at answering the questions;

How can and will the German fitness industry grow? How will the demand change under the influence of current fitness trends?

The goal of the event was to provide a dialogue on growth strategies for the fitness market based on new information and a shared dialogue regarding future issues. 

Here is Christian’s and Vicky’s round up of the rest of the day:

The first speech of the day was provided by the rating agency Creditreform who provided an analysis of the current German economy, and how this could affect the fitness market. Key statistics included:

> 70% of the fitness clubs in Germany have less than 10 employees. For this reason, very few fitness clubs in Germany have a revenue over 5 million Euros.

> Fitness clubs in Germany are generally well-established, with 46.7% existing longer than 10 years.

> The density of fitness clubs in East Germany is not as high as in West Germany with approximately 13 clubs per 100,000 citizens. In general, there are 11 clubs per 100,000 citizens.

> Financial statistics showed a high number of insolvencies over the past 5 years when compared with the general economy, especially in urban areas. This could be in part due to the higher competition from low-cost clubs in recent years.

The MD of the DIFG, Dr. Niels Nagel next presented his findings on the current challenges of the fitness industry with a focus on the general health of German citizens. Nagel’s research looks to answer questions such as; “How much added training-related stress is tolerable or healthy for a person?” He presented a lot of relevant research, and the key finding was training related stress after “enjoyable” training is higher and more positive than after “forced’. In most health clubs, clients often walk from machine to machine, with their headphones in, experiencing little excitement. These findings highlight the importance of participation in group and social fitness classes.

Ralph Pfeifer of ELEIKO next talked about the current developments in functional training from the industry. The German fitness market is, according to Pfeifer, hesitant to implement functional training related areas in clubs and is moving slowly in this area. He presented the ideal training set-up for ‘Newbies’ in fitness, starting with circle training and free weight training and then moving to functional training, such as CrossFit. He highlighted a universal definition for functional training is still to be found, and is already a big topic of discussion.

Prof. Dr. Jonas Polfuß from the EBC University of Applied Science provided us with some thought-provoking insights regarding the fitness market in China – economic opportunities and intercultural challenges. Since 2014 fitness has become a national strategy for China and everything supported by the government is expected to be booming over the next decade. In 2010 there were roughly 30,000 fitness clubs with an anticipated 70 million members. The market value is expected to increase from 216 billion USD (2016) to an impressive 725 billion USD (2025). The Chinese tech company Xiaomi has already left other players like Fitbit behind in the wearables/ smart devices market. Exports are stagnating because of the increasing domestic demand. So, from a global perspective we will surely see an increased significance placed on the Chinese fitness market in the future.

The day was brought to a close by Ralph Schulz, Chairman of the DIFG on behalf of the McFit Group. Schulz presented McFit’s vision for the future – “The Mirai”. The Mirai will be the biggest strength and health centre in the world and they hope to open it in 2019. It will:

  • Attract 13 million people from cities in close proximity.
  • Be built on three pillars:
    • Competence centre (research, development and education)
    • B2B-hub (show rooms, fairs and conferences)
    • Connecting the industry with their customers.

Photo Credit: McFit The Mirai

The overarching goal is to provide an offering for every interest within fitness including outdoor training, the mobilisation of all people, motivation through experience and the inclusion of everybody, so that people can get ideas and assistance in finding an activity that they intrinsically love and sustainably want to participate in.

A truly inspirational message and vision which perfectly rounded off a productive day in Düsseldorf. Many thanks to the DIFG for putting on this great event and inviting us to be a part of it. Here’s to the next one.

MD of Brandwave Germany Vicky Stickland also spoke at DIFG – read more about her experience here.

Anna Buechel