23 Apr 2019

Fitness industry in New Zealand raking in big profits

10:10 am on 23 April 2019

A growing obsession with health and wellness is the muscle behind momentum in the $60 billion a year global industry with everything from gyms to wearable devices generating big profits.

Group of young muscular adult male and females lifting large barbells in cross-fit class with thick mats and brick walls

In New Zealand, the fitness industry grew 3 percent last year to $567m. Photo: 123rf

Nikko Asset Management global equities portfolio manager Johnny Russell said gym companies were benefiting from an increased focus on wellbeing.

"There is a bull market out there for people wanting wellness and wanting to look after their health," he said.

"Look at the companies that are taking costs out of the healthcare systems, because government budgets are getting stretched, because we're all living to an older age. So, health care costs are going to go up, but the ability to pay for them is difficult," he said.

He said a number of companies were benefiting from the health craze, while some well-established names were repositioning themselves to take advantage of the opportunities.

"The likes of Philips that used to make TVs, used to make light bulbs, that's all changed. They're now focused on personal care and health care wearables, helping people to monitor their health.

"So, there's a company that you're feeding into a $60 billion market."

New Zealand's health and wellness industry was also running hot, with the fitness industry growing 3 percent last year to $567 million.

An average gym membership costs $12 a week, with most gyms charging between $7 and $25.

Larger chains made up between 30 to 40 percent of the industry, compared with just 10 percent 15 years ago.

Exercise New Zealand chief executive Richard Beddie said the desire to look good used to be the main reason why people belonged to a gym, but not anymore.

"There's been growth for the last 10-15 years consistently, year-on-year, even during the global financial crisis," Mr Beddie said, adding that the growth was currently between 2 and 5 percent every year.

"Generally speaking, younger persons would go to the gym, whereas nowadays, you couldn't find a gym in the country that didn't have someone over the age of 80."

He said there was a large growth potential, as New Zealand lags behind global rates of physical activity.

"The need to do something whether that be join a gym, go to yoga class, do some physical activity, is increasing by the day.

"So we expect that to continue to flow on to the be beneficial thing for the exercise and gym industry in New Zealand."