FBA 30: Insights into Asia’s big box and boutique fitness scenes with Rich Hutson of Chi Fitness and FIRE [Part 1 of 2]

Jack talks to Rich Hutson, CEO of Malaysia’s Chi Fitness and boutique offering FIRE in KL, about his long and eventful journey through Asia’s fitness industry.

With Rich’s vast experience in both bigbox and boutique fitness in Asia, he’s the perfect person to speak to regarding what’s happening in all areas of the region’s industry.

In this episode we discuss:

  1. Did Rick see much change between 2003-2008 in Asia’s fitness industry?
  2. The last decade – BigBox vs Budget vs Boutique
  3. The importance of understanding local culture in Asia
  4. Contractual and legal differences from country to country
  5. Are attitudes towards a career in fitness shifting in Asia?
  6. The importance of location
  7. Be an anchor to get a good deal from a landlord
  8. Lesson’s learned from FIRE opening in Singapore
  9. Can BigBox recreate the boutique experience?
  10. Rich’s tips for starting a fitness business in Asia
  11. The importance of finding the right business partners














Welcome to the fitness business Asia podcast. I am your host, Jack Thomas, and in today’s episode we are talking to Rich Hutson, CEO of Chi Fitness and partner at FIRE in KL.

I met Rich at the recent FIT Summit in Singapore and we hit it off immediately. It’s always great to meet people who are passionate about this industry, in it for the right reasons and happy to share their thoughts on the ups and downs of their journey to help others and to help build this industry up in the region. That’s the goal of this podcast so when I meet people who share and understand that vision, it always produces good conversations.

Rich has an interesting perspective as he’s part of both the bigbox and boutique fitness industry and so has a real insight into all areas of what’s going on

There were many big take homes for me during the episode but it particularly interesting to hear his thoughts on the Singaporean market after their FIRE location closed. It’s refreshing to hear people reflect openly and candidly on why things didn’t go well and what can be learned. You don’t hear this enough

I think his tips for starting a fitness business at the end are also big and are points that any fitness business owner can learn from.

Rich really is one of the best people to speak to about Asia’s industry and it was an absolute pleasure to interview him. Ladies and gents, here’s Rich Hutson of Chi Fitness and FIRE.



So there we have it, Rich Hutson sharing his thoughts on Asia’s fitness industry.

I’d like to thank Rich for being so open with his reflections and thoughts. A highlight of the interview for me was Rich talking with such passion about the opening of FIRE, and how they brought an A-grade experience from day 1. Big lessons to be learned from that.

To support the podcast you know what to do – 5 star reviews, sharing the podcast with friends and colleagues really helps us to build this movement.

Rich is back next week with a deep dive into sales – an area which many fitness businesses need to work on and one that is pivotal to success.

Benefit from Rich’s expertise by tuning in to our next episode.

In the meantime, have a great week wherever you are and we’ll catch you next time…

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