In the past few years, Indians have become far more conscious about health and fitness. Many people make it a point to monitor their food intake and fitness through a variety of services, such as calorie counters, mobile apps, and wearables; or the old fashioned way: reading the nutritional value charts provided on product packaging.
Eating right is only one side of the coin - thus many people sign up for gym memberships to help themselves stay fit. But, with high membership fees, many are apprehensive about paying up, not knowing whether they will be able to use the gym regularly. On the other hand, many gyms face the problem of a low signup ratio and a high drop-out rate. Gymer, a Bengaluru based startup, aims to solve this problem.
Gymer is a mobile app and web-based service that provides a cashless system for booking instant or in-advance workout sessions on an hourly basis. Users can decide when and where to work out, with a ‘pay-as-you-go’ option.
From the list of verified gyms that Gymer has tied up with, users can pick the one closest to them, and book hourly sessions for that day or the next. For every booking that gyms receive through their platform, Gymer receives a nominal fee. Gyms are categorized based on their hourly rates and facilities. They currently have three different categories, at price points of Rs 140, Rs 180 and Rs 220.
The idea for Gymer evolved over catch-ups between Srikanth and his friends. Their day-to-day experiences, and issues related to gymming, became a point of discussion. This led them to the idea of ‘gymming-by-the-hour’, with no upfront membership fees.
Gymer was co-founded by Srikanth Balakumar and Kushal Kumar. Kushal is an investment banker from the UK, and Srikanth, aged 27, comes from a technical background. They currently are a team of 8. Mehz Sheikh heads operations, and Suresh Gopalkrishnan and Varaprasad A lead business development, with Munira Mitra managing public relations. They also have two partners’ support, and engagement executives.
Gymer has so far partnered up with 180 gyms across Bengaluru. Mehz added, “The experience of signing up with gym partners has been quite pleasant. The major issue gyms face is that a large section of people come and sign up, but 60-70% do not return. So they were happy signing up with us.”
Gymer offers their service through a mobile app, desktop, and mobile browsers. So far, they have seen equal traction across all platforms. They aim to stay active on all three platforms, to cater to people who are not comfortable keeping apps installed on their mobile devices.
They also have a partner-facing mobile app to help gyms manage and control their bookings. Gyms can also reach out to their users in case of emergencies, such as the gym being closed on a certain day, through it. The partner-facing app is also used to start customers’ gym sessions. The user is provided with a verification code, which is entered into the partner-facing app. This begins the session.
The startup is focussing on organic growth, i.e., through word-of-mouth marketing and in-app referrals. They have raised a small seed round of funding, and aim to raise a further round in order to expand their services in the future, once they hit certain metrics. They currently accept payments through Paytm and PayUmoney, and plan to add their own payment gateway soon.
Users can currently book only one day in advance, or for the same day. Bookings can't be cancelled or transferred to other people. However, users can reschedule the same by getting in touch with the gym directly, subject to their obligation.
The health and fitness sector in India is currently growing. With the government popularising Yoga, more people are becoming aware of the need to stay fit and healthy.
While we didn’t come across startups that were similar to Gymer, globally, there is Class Pass, and in India, Fitness Papa. They provide flexible plans to gym-goers. Class Pass provides monthly membership to fitness studios, and lets users create work-out routines.
Some notable startups and enterprises in this sector are HealthifyMe, a calorie intake and fitness tracker, which raised funding from Micromax and a second round from angel investors. Truweight which claims to help lose weight with Superfoods, raised Series A funding from Kalaari Capital in May 2015. Mumbai based Fitternity is positioning itself as 'Zomato for Fitness'. Gaurav Jaswal and Gul Panag started MobieFit, and launched FirstRun, to guide people to take up running. Goqii, founded by Vishal Gondal, provides wearable fitness bands, paired with remote personalized coaching. They recently raised funding from Neeraj Arora of WhatsApp and Marco Argenti of Amazon.
The concept and its execution is interesting. I saw uniformity across all three platforms - the mobile app, mobile and the desktop browser. While the mobile app does provide a more wholesome experience, it is good to see that they are keeping all options open for the user.
As they expand and add more cities, it will be beneficial, as users can stick to their fitness routines even in other cities. The app also provides additional details about the gyms, such as contact details, address through Google maps, opening hours and facilities provided.
Currently, users can only book one day in advance and for the current day. The founders have kept it this way as they feel that their target audience does not plan their visits in advance. In future iterations, they plan to increase the booking window to three days, and more as they scale.
Currently, the app does not provide any visual aids or images to help the user choose their gym. Gymer confirmed that they are working on this aspect, and are in the process of including three images for every gym signed up with them.
Gymer is a well-thought-out and executed app and solves a real consumer pain point: staying fit in the middle of busy schedules. Also, it makes sure consumers don’t have to worry about their gym memberships. It will be interesting to see how they scale and add more features to their product.
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