Something interesting is happening in Mexico. While the country has the second highest rate of obesity in the world according to the OECD, the fitness industry has a strong potential to grow. In Mexico, 32.4% of the population and one in every three children are obese. Mexico has close to 8,000 gym clubs with total sales of US$1.48 billion. It is the second largest market for the fitness industry in Latin America and has the fourth largest number of gym club affiliates in the Americas, representing a growth of 25 to 30% in the last year, according to the International, Racquet & Sportsclub Assication (IHRSA).

There are 2.4 million people affiliated to a gym club, and figures from INEGI indicate that 42.4% of the population older than 18 years in urban areas is physicially active. Forty two club chains operate in Mexico showing the fastest growth as they have the resources and capabilities to expand. Although there are many independent clubs, they are small and usually do not offer renovated facilities to customers or professional services such as certified training programs. Consumers are much more oriented to brands, and they now tend to use gym clubs not only to work out, but also to socialize. Moreover, gym clubs are no longer perceived as a place to merely do weightlifting and cardio exercises, but somewhere where consumers can actually receive expert advice on how to take care of their health.

Stitched Panorama

Courtesy picture from Sports World

Sportsworld, Sports City, and Sport Fitness are consolidating their positions in the market and proliferating. Each of these clubs serves a different market segment. Sportsworld is an upmarket chain of 46 family club for the AB segment. Sport City is a subsidiary of Grupo Marti with more than 40 big box clubs in the same market segment, while Smart Fit is a low cost format franchise also owned by Grupo Marti along with Grupo Bio Ritmo, opening 11 new clubs a year. Anytime Fitness, another chain serving the middle socioeconomic segment already has 36 clubs and is expanding at a rate of six new clubs a year. While the big box business model is still profitable for Sportsworld, some experts believe they should branch out in the low cost segment if they want to remain competitive and gain a larger market share. New players are also entering the market, such as New Evolution Ventures owning Energy Fitness and Hard Candy, and launched the MX Gym concept, which is aimed to target socioeconomic classes C and D accounting for 70% of the Mexican population.

The fitness industry is expected to have a key role in the national strategy to prevent and control overweight, obesity, and diabetes. More dialogue is needed between they players involved, which would certainly contribute to decrease the concerning levels of obesity and metabolic disorders in the country.

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