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Global Fitness Chain to Build First Gyms in Beijing, Shanghai
A global fitness chain with about 440 fitness centers across the world said plans are at hand to build its centers in Beijing and Shanghai in two years.

Eric Levine, the regional chief executive officer of California Fitness Network, told Xinhua Thursday that with China further opening up, a number of centers will be built first in Shanghai and then in Beijing - but all within the next 24 months.

At the moment, there is no chain-type of fitness centers operating in China; bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts mainly work out at gyms inside hotels or independent fitness clubs.

But Levine said the trend of going to the gym will come to the Chinese mainland, when the taste for voguish fashion becomes popular on a wider scale.

"In Asia when we came here six years ago, the culture here wasn't for fitness. We were here for fashion - every one wants to look great and feel great. We attract them with that angle - the fashion aspect," he said.

Levine was speaking at a media reception to open the network's fifth and the largest gym in Hong Kong.

China's becoming increasingly cosmopolitan and its vibrant modeling scene are the key factors in the network's decision to launch a number of centers in the two cities, he said.

"Now it (China) is opening up and getting international. The magazines are there now. They are reading Vogue and Cosmopolitan. As soon as MTV gets there, bang!" he said.

In Hong Kong, the culture of going to the fitness center led to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government launching its Fitness Room Monthly Ticket Scheme at the end of last year.

For a low monthly fee of 180 Hong Kong dollars (23 U.S. dollars) for adults and half price for full-time students, persons with a disability and senior citizens, participants in the scheme are entitled to unlimited use of the facilities for fitness exercises at any of the 19 government-run fitness centers across Hong Kong.

According to the SAR Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the participants are also entitled to enrolling in fitness assessment sessions to enhance their knowledge of, and to arouse their interest in, fitness activities.

(Xinhua News Agency March 22, 2002)

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