The fitness market in Russia is a growing and important part Russia’s economy. In 2016 the sector grew by 3.6% to 101.5 billion rubles, despite the economy still recovering from the effects of the 2014 Financial Crisis. Although Russia still has a reputation for drinking and smoking, both numbers are falling quickly and sport is becoming a major industry, especially among younger residents in major cities. In Moscow, for instance, 30% of the city’s residents report that they regularly exercise and gyms have long been popular with middle class Muscovites. The number of fitness centers overall in Russia has increased 43% from 2012 to 2017.
Founded in 1997 in Moscow, Planeta Fitness has expanded to many other Russian cities like Saint Petersburg, as well as foreign countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Sweden. Its new center in Stockholm, Sweden, opened in 2004, was, at the time, the biggest in Scandinavia.
Members at Planeta Fitness are treated to a wide selection of services such as swimming, personal training, and weightlifting. Not only can members partake of these activities on their own, they can also hire professional coaches or rent sports gear.
The business boasts a large customer base—about 60,000 and holds, together with its affiliates, about 25% market share in Russia. Its business model is not only centered on physical fitness centers, but also on consulting for other projects and getting involved with its communities through philanthropic work. Increasingly, services are marketed to youth as well as pensioners – with many middle-class members of the gym now increasingly buying memberships for their children to attend after-school fitness classes and for their parents to use the pools, which is the most often recommended fitness by Russian doctors for the elderly. Low-impact aerobics classes are also increasingly popular with older Russians in major cities.
Given that fitness and exercise has become a large part of culture for many Americans and Western Europeans, it may reassure expatriates and students that affordable commercial gyms are available in Russia. Planeta Fitness has a good mix of reasonable pricing and quality services that likely appeal to a broad range of locals and travelers alike.
An advertisement for Planeta Fitness.