The Asia Fitness Conference celebrated its 10th year anniversary in 2018. The 3 day conference and exhibition was held in Bangkok from the 5th – 7th October. It was a significant milestone and representative of the evolution of fitness training in Asia over the last decade.
The Conference attracted exercise professionals from a wide range of Asian countries including the host Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, India and Malaysia. With the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars presented by leading authorities in fitness, the Conference has become the ‘must attend’ event in the fitness calendar.
For those who have been to the Australian Fitness Expo (Filex) in Sydney, it is very similar but on a significantly smaller scale. My reason for participating this year was to learn more about the fitness industry in Asia, specifically the standard of the qualifications completed by exercise professionals and the level of service provided to their clients.
The Conference was very well organised. Participants pre-selected the sessions they attended from a broad range of options including; Movement Analysis, Corrective Exercise, Yoga, HIIT, Myofascial Release, Sports Nutrition and Client Motivation, to name a few. In between the 75 minute sessions there was sufficient time throughout the day to check out the exhibition and watch the demonstration activities that were on show on the main stage.
Having been involved in the Australian fitness industry for 25 years, I found it very interesting to observe and compare the state of development of the Asian sector.
The masterclasses and demonstrations involving any type of dance activity were hugely popular. Zumba was a hit with the colourful outfits and energetic instructors leading the way. There was no shortage of participants happy to join in the sessions and ‘shake their booty’. It appears, at least from those attending, that there is a love of music and dance, which extends to a preference towards exercise that includes music and dance.
Not far behind Zumba was martial arts fitness. Thai boxing and variations using mitts, pads and sticks is another very popular way to keep fit in Asia. When travelling around the city you couldn’t help but notice the large number of facilities that catered for this type of training.
The bigger fitness ‘chains’ also have established themselves in Asia. In several of the larger shopping malls, there were Fitness First or Virgin Active super clubs. The size of the club was in keeping with the size of the mall! These facilities catered for everyone with extensive cardio and resistance equipment, group classes and personal training. While HIIT was strongly promoted there were many less ‘strenuous’ exercise options available including yoga, Pilates and combinations of both.
It was apparent that there is a strong culture health and exercise, and the requirements that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Directly across the street from my hotel was a massage centre and there were another four in the short walk to the nearest sky rail station only 300 metres away. While there are many food options, the staple diets here are generally healthier than those of Australian and many other western cultures. It was noticeable that there were significantly fewer overweight people than you would see on the streets of major Australian cities.
Where to from here?
My only disappointment was that the Conference and Exhibition only catered to exercise professionals working in the industry. The Australian version attracts around 25,000 attendees from the public and provides the opportunity for them to gather information about all aspects of the industry.
It would be a fantastic to see the larger ‘brands’ represented at the Conference and Exhibition, promoting their services and encouraging the public to get involved. There is obviously a huge market for companies such as Nike, Adidas, Virgin Active and Fitness First in Asia and it would be a significant step for them to participate in the future.
From my observations, the exercise professionals in Asia are very much like their counterparts elsewhere across the world. They are very enthusiastic, keen to learn more and upgrade their skills and knowledge to provide even better services to their clients. With that purpose in mind, Australian Fitness Academy is planning to expand its programs to offer qualifications in Asia. So ‘watch this space’ over the next few months and we will keep you informed of our developments in fitness qualifications and training throughout Asia.