#Asia China’s staffless gym startups are carb-loading on huge amounts of investor cash


On streets and in apartment complexes across China, weird new pods are suddenly popping up. They’re gyms – small, automated, staffless workout rooms where people can enter and pay for their sweaty sessions entirely with their phones.

Just like the shared bicycle services that came before, the startups behind these shared gyms are starting to pull in some serious investor cash.

Three such startups have trousered cash in December. The latest to get funding – earlier today – is Supermonkey, which netted a vague “several hundred million RMB,” at least US$30 million, according to a source speaking with Tech in Asia.

It works like this: find a Supermonkey location.

Photo credit: Supermonkey.

Like this one in a refurbished shipping container:

Photo credit: Supermonkey.

And then use WeChat on your phone, via the Supermonkey brand account, to get a one-time PIN to access the workout space.

GIF credit: Supermonkey.

That’s also how you book a time slot and pay for the session.

Photo credit: Supermonkey.

The equipment inside varies depending on the location.

Photo credit: Supermonkey.

This particular one has quite a lot of kit.

Photo credit: Supermonkey.

Supermonkey is hedging its bets by also running a series of more conventional gyms with trainers and support staff.

Photo credit: Supermonkey.

But those locations also avoid the onerous annual membership of conventional gyms by letting you book slots through WeChat.

Supermonkey and two rivals, Lefit and Misspao, have raised just over US$75 million this month to help them open more pods in new cities, reports China Money Network.

Supermonkey has 30 facilities in three Chinese cities, with the aim of reaching 100 locations in 2018.

Sequoia Capital China led the newest investment via its Jiansheng Sports Fund, while earlier investor Ventech China also contributed.

See more China action:

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