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Healthcare / Pharmaceuticals

A matter of body and soul

by Isabella Lee

Catherine Lim, regional HR director, The Pure Group
Photo: Johnson Poon

Trend for healthier lifestyle sees rapid expansion of sophisticated exercise industry

Today's younger people are looking for a healthier, more balanced standard of life. On the one hand, they work hard to achieve goals in their careers. On the other, they are prepared to invest both money and time in keeping fit and eating right.

"Generally speaking the people of Hong Kong are on the right track to attain a healthy lifestyle," says Catherine Lim, regional HR director of The Pure Group. "In particular the well-educated don't ignore the importance of getting enough exercise even though they must work long hours. To start off a busy day, many of our members hit the gym before going to the office, or take an energy-boosting lunchtime workout session to prepare for the busy afternoon while others do their workouts in the evenings. That's why most of our outlets are open from six o'clock in the morning until midnight."

The Pure Group has two Pure Fitness Centres in premium spots in Central with another set to open in Langham Place this May. The four yoga studios, Pure Yoga, are also in first-class locations, two on the island and the others in Kowloon. The group has also moved into Singapore and Taiwan, and is now exploring other potential markets including Shanghai because of the potential in the China market.

"This business is growing rapidly," says Ms Lim. "In 2002, the company was established with only two yoga teachers. Today there are over 90 of them working with the other 500 staff. At the same time, the number of active members has risen to more than 20,000. It is a sure sign that people are more aware of their physical well-being. It also proves they are prepared to make a solid investment in their bodies since we never cut prices to attract customers."

Healthy growth

To cater for the growing demand, the group is seeking premises for additional outlets both locally and overseas. They are also looking to recruit a pool of talents, mainly fitness trainers and yoga teachers. According to Ms Lim, there are limitations in recruiting the right people in both categories.

Illustrating the value of experienced trainers, she points out, "It's easy to sign up for a fitness class but sometimes it's hard to persist with the workouts. So, on top of technical skills, good fitness trainers should know how to inspire their clients. They should have high energy as well as enthusiasm in sports and physical training."

Fitness trainers in The Pure Group possess qualifications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), a widely recognised organisation for sports and fitness professionals. Since the group has already taken on so many qualified and experienced fitness trainers, more or less emptying the market, it has launched a programme to foster fresher talents in this specific field. The trainees, preferably university graduates in disciplines such as physical education, human movement science and kinesiology, will go through a series of in-house training including hands-on coaching from senior staff members.

More on-the-job practice is required for yoga teachers. "Since we are looking for enhanced skill sets, applicants must have at least three years' teaching experience before joining us. Another essential quality is versatility in the range of yoga styles they can teach," says Ms Lim. "Because yoga focuses not only on the body but the mind, they must have the passion and mentality to help learners gain both physical and mental strengths."

Geared up

In addition, Pure Yoga teachers are expected to upgrade their abilities throughout their work path. From time to time, the company invites world-class yoga masters to deliver lessons for its workforce. To encourage continuous learning, study leave and education subsidies are provided.

The Pure Group demands the best talents. In return, it offers pay packages at the higher end of the scale. "For fitness trainers, the commission-based salaries are very competitive. For yoga teachers, the pay depends on the teaching hours involved, but generally it is above the market rate. For both categories, there are great career opportunities attached to the jobs. Many of our existing management in yoga and fitness business were promoted from such positions, and while the group is expanding at such a fast pace we can foresee more senior vacancies arising in the near future," says Ms Lim. "In addition to financial rewards, we believe our working conditions make a difference."

Safety and hygiene are the company's priorities. To maintain good hygiene, all rooms and hardware are cleaned after each usage. Also, all frontline crew are qualified to provide first aid in an emergency.

"Most importantly, we keep investing in the latest equipment and installations. For example, all treadmills are equipped with personal screens so that clients can enjoy a video of their choice during an exercise session. We also have various one-off features like the in-house boxing ring and hypoxic chamber that bolster our brand name, helping attract and retain new clients," Ms Lim says.


 

Taken from Career Times 30 March 2007

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