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Revitalizing the Fitness Landscape

Revitalizing the Fitness Landscape: Mr. Jaeyong Lee's Vision for Post-Pandemic Growth in  South Korea

In an insightful interview with Mr. Jaeyong Lee, President of Johnson Health Tech Korea, we delve into the transformative landscape of the Korean fitness industry, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a rich background spanning 25 years at Samsung Electronics and over two decades in the B2C sector, Mr. Lee's expertise spans across diverse consumer products and international markets.



The pandemic undeniably dealt a severe blow to the economy, aggravating challenges for club chain fitness businesses in Korea, which were already experiencing a decline in membership. However, Mr. Lee observes a silver lining in this crisis. This resurgence is propelled by a growing consumer appreciation for health and exercise, with PT studios, Pilates, and yoga studios emerging to meet unique market demands. Johnson Health Tech is strategically positioning itself within this new landscape with products like the climbmill, uniquely suited to the evolving demands of the fitness market.



Reflecting on the commercial sector, Mr. Lee notes that the Korean fitness market, once valued at over 500 million RMB, suffered a significant downturn in the aftermath of the pandemic, with a nearly 20% annual decrease over three years. Nonetheless, 2022 marked a promising 5% rebound, signaling a potential return to pre-pandemic levels. This recovery is supported by the strong presence of wholesale dealers, who account for more than 50% of the commercial fitness market in Korea.



The post-pandemic era marks a shift in the fitness industry landscape. International club chains, despite their success abroad, struggle to gain a foothold in Korea, where domestic clubs continue to thrive. Yet, the rise of smaller and medium-sized fitness clubs indicates a significant transformation, suggesting untapped potential and the need for a strategic operational overhaul to meet evolving consumer preferences. Mr. Lee believes these clubs are still in a phase of transition, not yet realizing their full potential.


Mr. Lee advises a radical rethinking of operational strategies for those aiming to navigate the shifting tides of the Korean fitness industry towards more intimate and specialized fitness solutions. His insights not only shed light on the challenges and opportunities but also pave a path for innovation and adaptation in the face of change.


*Note: For the full length of the interview, please check out IWF official social media account @iwfshanghai