Thinking of joining a fitness centre? These 5 startups will help you choose the best one


Most of us daydream of washboard abs and lean-athletic arms while slouching in front of our office laptop with oily Chinese takeout for company. Even being barraged with images of perfect hips, muscled biceps and thigh gaps from the fitness industry doesn't help the cause most times.

Payal Kadakia who, along with Mary Biggins, founded ClassPass in June 2013, a monthly membership service for fitness classes across multiple gyms and studios in the US wanted to help people keep their devices aside to do more enriching activities. And, in the process, experience better lives.

Today, after raising $84 million in five rounds, the company shows there is still plenty of opportunity for growth in the fitness industry.

In March it was reported that the ClassPass app allows you to book fitness classes across 30 cities including New York, London and Sydney. The monthly fee set at 79 British Pounds gives you access to around 8,000 studios across the world.

Closer home are our very own Indian fitness startups that started sprouting all over the country since 2013. We take a look at some of them:


1. GymPik – The Zomato of the health sector 

Founded: Founded by Ajay and Amaresh Ojha in August, 2013

Funding raised: The startup was bootstrapped for the initial six months but later raised a seed fund of $135,000 to strengthen its technology and business team.

Later, it raised $2 million in an ‘ads for equity’ deal with Brand Capital. The startup also claims to have raised a pre-series A funding from RoundGlass Partners last month.

Propostion: is an online marketplace and aggregator for fitness service providers, which helps consumers find gyms, aerobic classes, martial art centres and dance classes with further information about trainers and professionals.

Their focus areas include aerobics, gym, zumba, dance, dietitian, physiotherapy, and yoga.

Traction:  As of 2015, the startup claimed to have more than 6,000 centres and 4,000 trainers listed on its website, with presence in Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi-NCR and receiving 2,000 plus daily unique visitors.

Acquisition: In September 2015, GymPik acquired FitnessPapa which owned a network of more than 500 fitness centres across Bengaluru, Chennai, and Coimbatore. They had a similar monthly plan like ClassPass called ‘Passport’ where members were allowed to use any fitness centres across their network.


The team at Gympik

2. Fitternity - Extension of a founder’s personal fitness journey

Founded: Neha Motwani in early 2014

Funding raised: In July 2015, Fitternity Health E-solutions had raised pre-series A investment of $1.1 million led by TV Mohandas Pai’s Exfinity Venture Partners.

Propostion: It is an online hyperlocal discovery and booking platform for fitness programmes including gyms, yoga, zumba, marathons, and cross fit training. The platform also tries to promote healthy eating through tiffin services, snacks and beverages. Read more here.

Traction: As of 2015, had 8,000 listings across Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Pune, with more than 65,000 users accessing different fitness options.

Their engagement and repeat rate was placed at 25 per cent, according to the founder.


The team at Fitternity

3. Gymer- The pay-as-you-go model 

Founded: The business was co-founded by Srikanth Balakumar and Kushal Kumar with the app launched in 2015.

Funding raised: Raised an undisclosed seed round of funding   

Proposition: With a ‘pay–as-you-go’ model, Gymer works as a mobile app and web-based service, which allows users to book workout sessions with gyms.

Users can pick the closest centre to them through a list of verified gyms on their network. The platform aims to tackle the persistent issue of members paying heavy fees and not returning to the gym. Read more here.

Traction: As of July 2015, the platform had partnered with over 180 gyms across Bengaluru.

Website: GymerApp

The team at Gymer

4. Playnlive – The fitness + sports aggregator 

Founded: Nakul Kapur and Rahul Wadhwa started operations in September 2013, but launched the website only on February 1, 2014.

Funding raised: Undisclosed

Proposition: Like others on the list, Playnlive is an online fitness discovery platform, but also allows customers to subscribe to sports activities. It provides information on sports, coaching academies, sports clubs, gyms and fitness centres.

The platform allows users to book personal training sessions for yoga, fitness, self-defense, nutritionists, and dietitians etc while also allowing users to book grounds or courts for various sports. They have a monthly pass facility as well. Read more here.

Traction: Present in five cities, Playnlive gives users access to free trial booking options for about 9,000 facilities across locations. It supports 25 sports with 50+ activities. Members with a pass facility, which is live in Delhi NCR, can subscribe to 250 facilities across 40 activities.

Playnlive claims to have over 10,000 verified listings.


Founders of Playnlive (L to R): Nakul Kapur and Rahul Wadhwa

5. BYG – The new kid in town 

Founded: Devi Prasad Biswal and Avijeet Alagathi started BYG in November 2015 with the app launched in January 2016.

Funding raised: The firm has raised an angel round of close to Rs 2 crore.

Proposition: Operational in five cities including New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and Bhubaneshwar, the platform allows customers to not just buy gym membership but also book hourly sessions. Taking an app-only approach, it also allows users to book group sessions like yoga, zumba, crossfit, martial arts, and sporting activities like swimming, skating, and summer classes.

The platform also has a B2B CRM solution for gyms which helps them manage their members while updating their diet and workout plans online. Read more here.

Traction: As of last month, the firm tied up with more than 780 fitness centres, and clocked 3,030 transactions in the first 40 days of starting operations. Every day, the platform is adding 10 centres while closing almost 150 transactions across locations.

The BYG app has 4,500 downloads with 1,700 users making active transactions.

Website: BYG App

The team at BYG

There are several other platforms like Flexipass (partnered with 400 gyms across Mumbai and Delhi NCR); Fitpass (claimed to have partnered with 1000+ gyms in Delhi NCR) and Fiticket (partnered with 450 studios) working on the same business models. Bangalore also has a fitness startup called Cult, which is working on training programmes that use no machines or equipment. Additionally, there are home service players like HouseJoy and UrbanClap that aim to connect consumers to fitness and yoga trainers for sessions at the comfort of their homes.

Another active segment is healthy diet, with players like HealthifyMe, a calorie intake and fitness tracker; Truweight, which claims to help lose weight with Superfoods; and Fitho, which is a technology-based weight management service. Moreover, with technology players disrupting the space, the fitness market is expected to grow rapidly, expecting to touch Rs 250-300 billion in the next five years.

However, looking at the booking platforms and marketplaces now crowding the space, it looks like mergers and acquisitions will be the next wave to beat competitors in scale.


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