When Ling Yun started working out during his time as a graduate student at medical school in Brown University in 2001, he did so simply because he wanted to lead a healthy lifestyle.
Little did he know that he would one day become the founder of China's largest producer of fitness content.
"After spending two years working at a hospital and dealing with all kinds of patients, I realized that it was important for more people to know how to lead a healthy life. That's why I decided to become a health consultant at Deloitte after graduating," said Ling.
In a bid to raise awareness about the importance of healthy living, Ling started to post instructional fitness videos on Chinese social media platform Weibo in 2013. His videos soon became a hit, and his follower numbers ballooned. He currently has about 1.14 million followers.
"I was eager to influence people to lead a healthier life, but it was difficult for me to do so as a health consultant at Deloitte. Now, I'm able to achieve this through social media," said Ling.
As a result, he resigned from Deloitte and focused on creating fitness content.
In March 2015, Ling officially launched an app named FitTime which contained fitness videos he and his team created. In addition, the app also allows users to share and post their photos and sign up for paid fitness courses.
To date, FitTime has gained a following of nearly 15 million people, and about 1 percent of them are customers who are willing to pay to view the latest fitness videos on a monthly or annual basis. Ling and his team have produced about 1,000 original videos since the app's inception.
"The demand is making fitness a profitable and promising business, and we will continue to work on producing workout content," said Ling.
Ling said he finds joy in being able to help people achieve positive change through his videos. The fact that his business broke even last year has encouraged him to continue producing useful content online.
One of those who are grateful to Ling is Fu Menglin, who credits his videos for helping her lose 20 kilograms in less than three years.
"I believed that women should not work out and have big muscles, but my own fitness experience convinced me of the beauty of exercise," said Fu.
According to Ling, China's middle class are paying more attention than ever to sports and fitness, but a series of problems such as location, the high cost of one-on-one coaching and the shortage of experienced coaches are keeping consumers away from gyms. Instructional fitness videos, he said, helps to solve these issues.
"While between 2 and 3 million people exercise at the tens of thousands of gyms across the United States, the most popular fitness location is actually people's living rooms," said Ling.