SAN RAMON, CA – Basketball star Yao Ming and 24 Hour Fitness have partnered up to open clubs in Yao’s native China.
The signature sports club, which will be called California Fitness—Yao Ming Sport Club, will open in August in Beijing. California Fitness is a wholly owned subsidiary of 24 Hour Fitness and currently operates 24 locations across Asia.
California Fitness—Yao Ming Sport Club will occupy nearly 40,000 square feet and will have such amenities as a 3-on-3 basketball court, a cycling studio, cardio machines, free weights, resistance equipment and steam and sauna facilities.
24 Hour Fitness plans to open 20 to 30 facilities throughout China in the next five years. The premiere club in Beijing not only will feature Yao’s likeness in signage and marketing, but the club also will have a special air purification system.
24 Hour Fitness said it had revenue of $1.12 billion in 2005 and employs 16,000 people, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In 2005, Forstmann, Little & Co. bought 24 Hour Fitness for a reported $1.6 billion.
Other club companies have entered the China market. Bally Total Fitness has operated clubs in China since 2002, and major hotels such as Shangri-La group’s China World Hotel in Beijing run large, modern fitness centers, the newspaper reported.
Yao, a 7-foot-6 center and member of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, has been voted as a five-time NBA All-Star since entering the league in 2002. He will be a member of the Chinese men’s basketball team in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Yao is just one of many sports celebrities who have teamed up with 24 Hour Fitness to create signature clubs. Other athletes include Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson.