Shanta Rahman has to remain busy from morning till evening. After hours spent in modelling and television presentation, she finds time only at night for going to a fitness centre at Gulshan in the capital to keep herself physically fit and in good shape.
Like her, hundreds of young people, both male and female, now set aside some time to spend in fitness centres every day, leading to the rise of a business, which formerly would not have been considered a business at all.
Now that many people can afford spending their hard-earned money for going to gym, the business is thriving in every neighbourhood, drawing the attention of a big number of people who care for their physical fitness.
Depending on the quality of service and where a gym is located, an individual spends on an average Tk1,500 to Tk6,000 per month for doing exercise in gyms.
This trend is higher in urban areas and the market is expected to witness steady growth in semi-urban areas too but there are no exact data about this.
What propels the business
The rising number of gyms and as well as a significant increase in their membership is supplementing the growth of the fitness equipment market, leading to increased investment in the sector.
Now, there is hardly any area left in the capital which does not have a fitness centre. The number is growing day by day to cater to the increasing demand. Previously limited to the affluent class, the trend of doing gym is getting popular among the mid-income group also.
Besides, the problem of obesity, which is now widespread, is leading an increasing number of people to gym to have their weight trimmed down and look attractive.
Stakeholders say thousands of gym centres are currently doing hefty business amid an increased awareness of good health and soaring per capita income of people.
Arif Hossen, sales manager of Asia Fitness at Moulana Bhashani Stadium Market, has told Dhaka Tribune that people are getting more and more aware about their health and demand for exercise equipment is increasing.
“Finally this is pushing up investment in body fitness sector,” he observes.
What stands in the way
Gym owners and equipment sellers find high customs duty on import of equipment, space crisis and high cost of equipment as the main impediments, which thwart the expected growth of the business.
Most of the machinery in this sector comes from China and Taiwan. More than 85% of the equipment is imported from China and about 10% from Taiwan. The remaining 5% are locally assembled, as per business insiders.
But in the case of five-star hotels in the country, the fitness equipment comes from the US and they are of higher quality.
Equipment used in gyms
Among the basic equipment used in gyms are six-pack care, runner machine, push-up bars, nunchaku, wall mounted pull-up chin-up bar, bench press, hammer strength machine, lat pull-down machine, stair stepper, dumbbells and preacher bench etc.
M Anamul Alam, managing partner of Fitness Plus at Gulshan Avenue, has told Dhaka Tribune that the price of gymnasium equipment varies.
“If the equipment is of good quality, the number of people coming here is also good. Besides, good quality equipment is long lasting,” he says, noting that the number of woman entrepreneurs along with men in this sector is increasing.
Investment in the sector
More and more people are putting money in the trade. Some people have opened gym centres in their houses to run privately.
Setting up a small size gym costs Tk10 lakh to 20 lakh, a midium size Tk20 lakh to 40 lakh while a well-equipped big gym involves an investment of up to Tk1 crore or more.
An owner has told Dhaka Tribune that setting up a gym involves buying accessories, a professional trainer and dietician and developing a website having fitness blogs and videos to promote the business online.
Body fitness equipment wholesaler Anower Hossen says that the demand for these equipment has increased while the number of outlets selling gym equipment is also growing.
Many people are also going for online shopping, he adds.
How much one spends on gym and when
Depending on where one lives and how many amenities they would like to use, a regular gym membership can run between Tk1,500 and Tk6,000 per month. However, there are annual packages for Tk10,000 to Tk40,000.
An executive of Hammer Strength Fitness Club at Banani has said that their centre opens at 9:00am and runs till 10:30pm. The bulk of the membership fees is taken at the time of admission.
Health clubs at five-star hotels
All five-star hotels in the country have gym centres or health club. Here the equipment is very modern. On the other hand, membership cost here is higher than other gymnasiums.
Generally, a refreshing workout, a relaxing steam bath or a dip in the Jacuzzi, Health Club of five-star hotel is fully equipped to invigorate members’ senses.
Health clubs of the five-star hotel feature fully-equipped gymnasium, steam bath, sauna, separate indoor Jacuzzi for men and women and outdoor Jacuzzi.
Shapon Chowdhury, manager of health club of Radissan Blu Dhaka Water Garden, has told Dhaka Tribune that a client pays Tk1,55,000 for yearly membership and Tk85,000 monthly.
Most of the machinery in body fitness club of five-star hotels comes from the USA, he informs.
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