This column is authored by Akshay Verma, Co-Founder, FITPASS
Worried about gaining weight if you stop going to the gym? Are you looking for a swimming class in your vicinity or want to indulge in resistance training to stay fit? If hitting the gym, jogging on the promenade, or swimming does not sync well within your current schedule, then what are the other options that may help you stay in shape and lead a healthy life? With the young and old alike – be it working professionals, kids, housewives and college-goers – turning fitness conscious, online platforms and apps are witnessing a massive boom in their user base.
Hectic schedules and rising stress levels seldom allow a person to follow a proper fitness regimen or pursue a well-crafted workout schedule. In order to help people realize their fitness goals and offer them personalized, innovative ways to stay fit, a pool of fitness startups have emerged in the country. These startups are making use of technology, bringing exciting activities, flexible plans, and attractive offers to lure customers on to their platforms. And why not? More than ever, people are influenced by peers, friends and their favourite celebrities to embrace fitness and are ready to spend the big bucks to stay in shape.
In a country like India, where more than two-thirds of its population falls in the age bracket of below 35 years old, fitness solutions and products are high on demand. In the past few years, around 30 fitness startups have cropped up helping people stay fit and achieve their goals. The fitness industry is growing exponentially with changes in the lifestyle and income levels of people. The market share of this sunrise sector is currently pinned at Rs. 1 lakh crore and is pegged to grow at a promising annual growth rate of 25-40%.
Technology, shaping the future of fitness startups
A simple search on the mobile app store for fitness-related apps will present a plethora of choices offering incredible services. Technology is at the core of several new age fitness products and services, providing an array of solutions to people availing them. In the past, most people found convenience, as a key missing element in fitness-related activities. With the help of technology-based fitness startups, gyms and fitness studios are easily accessible on smartphones. Technology has transformed the way people plan their workout schedule, the way workout is done and the results are measured.
Technology is the major driving force in the fitness industry today. With new technologies, activities can be tracked real-time, and bookings can be done as per availability with the help of an app. Startups have embraced technology to create a smarter, data-driven experience for consumers. Fitness is now an assistance oriented segment, with heavy personalization for every user. Technology has enabled businesses to provide individual users customized and curated fitness solutions they seek for. Mobile applications, social media communities, etc. promote an increased level of user engagement and also help derive valuable feedback to enhance customer experiences. Also, wearables and artificial intelligence have provided a much-required momentum to the fit-tech startups. They are able to analyze usage patterns for consumers through technological interventions, thus allowing businesses to roll out efficient solutions.
As per a PwC report, the fit-tech startups have immense growth potential with $16.6 billion business in the country and 20-25% CAGR. Some of the well-known investors in the country like Ratan Tata have invested in virtual fitness coaching platform GOQii, former Flipkart Executive Mukesh Bansal has set up Curefit, and cricketer Virat Kohli has co-founded Stepathlon Kids in the recent past. Fitness apps such as Delhi-based FITPASS raised $1 million in seed funding and another $1 million from Indian Olympic Gold Medalist, Abhinav Bindra and his business partner Gaurav Marya, Chairman- Franchise India Pvt. Ltd. HealthifyMe raised $1 million and Bengaluru-based Gympik Health Solutions raised over $1 million in three rounds of funding.
The emergence and growth of fit-tech shows how innovative startups are betting high on the growth potential of the fitness industry and creating waves in the startup ecosystem. With so many start-ups in other sectors going belly-up, fitness is a segment that has registered consistent growth over the last two years. Moreover, with the increasing application of fitness products such as wearable devices in delivering healthcare services, fit-tech is poised to play a much larger role across the fitness, wellness, and healthcare segments in the days to come.