If you have a few young, big-city Chinese friends on social media, it’s hard to miss their triumphant workout photos on your news feed these days. One of these photos probably come from Keep, who announces today it has reached 100 million registered users and claims it’s the first Chinese fitness app to achieve this milestone.
Launched in February 2015, Keep is like a fitness trainer in your pocket: It offers a variety of personalized training courses that let you work out anytime, anywhere. It’s also social, so users can follow each other and share their workout progress to other social media platforms.
Keep’s growth coincides with a surging demand among Chinese people to stay in shape as well as the government’s call to promote physical health. In June 2016, the Chinese State Council issued a plan to implement a national fitness strategy to “improve the physical fitness and health level of the whole nation” by 2020. China’s sports consumption, the government forecasts, will reach a meteoric scale of 1.5 trillion RMB ($230 billion), tapping into 500 million potential consumers. Keep told TechNode that it is in talks with China’s Sports Bureau and a number of state media to promote fitness across the country.
Venture capital for the internet sports industry, an overarching term encompassing sports-related businesses like sports live stream, e-sports events, sports retail, and fitness apps like Keep, also soared in recent years. According to third-party research company iResearch and database Itjuzi (in Chinese), funding for internet sports businesses between 2013 and 2015 grew 164 times to 65.5 billion RMB ($9.83 billion). An August report by iResearch (in Chinese) reveals that China’s internet sports industry, still an infant, has reached more than 350 million users.
23 percent of Keep’s users live in China’s top five mega cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. 77 percent are under 35 years old. China’s social networking and gaming giant Tencent, who has a dedicated sporting arm, invested in Keep’s latest Series C+ round last August. Grabbing this young, health-conscious, and affluent demographics are Keep’s competitors FitTime and Hotbody.