Bengaluru-based Altsoul aggregates classes from the best gyms, fitness and dance studios, swimming pools, and sports facilities, and lets you access them with one membership card.
You need to hustle for that muscle and it ain’t easy. Bengaluru-based Altsoul aims to make fitness a part of life by offering "a single pass that gives you a lot more convenience and a far wider selection of fitness options” than ever before.
Founded by Arvind Eashwar and Rohit Khanna in March 2018, an Altsoul membership offers access to activities such as fitness, dance, yoga, and meditation. Be it Zumba, CrossFit, swimming, Pilates, kick boxing or wall climbing, you can attend unlimited classes at multiple gyms and studios with one membership. At a price much lower than your neighbourhood gym!
Altsoul, which started operations in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar, has now expanded its footprint across the city. It currently offers services in three neighbourhoods - Central Bangalore, Indiranagar and Koramangala. The team aims to cover all of Bengaluru by mid-December.
Waking up to fitness
Arvind came from an Army background and was a national-level tennis player. He had always known the importance of sport and fitness. Growing up, he had access to clubs that let him enjoy swimming, tennis, basketball, and horse riding. “Once I grew up and moved out of the defence establishment I realised how hard it was to get access to these facilities. Solving this problem became a passion,” Arvind says.
Before founding AltSoul, Arvind, 28, was part of Swiggy’s strategy team where he worked on multiple projects ranging from operations, customer experience, growth, and unit economics. He also worked with McKinsey for two years from 2011.
But Altsoul wasn’t Arvind’s first startup. MondoBoard, which operated from 2014-2016, was a hyperlocal social network that helped people find partners to play their sport. That’s when he met Co-founder Rohit Khanna, and began conversations about starting up in the fitness space.
Like Arvind, Rohit, 32, is a fitness and sports enthusiast. The marathon runner, cyclist, and Ironman graduated in computer science from Purdue University, Indiana, and has worked in startups like Burrp and CleverTap, and with corporates such as IBM.
“Most gyms then were offering group classes. Boutique studios were offering yoga, dance and other activities. Workout forms such as Zumba, CrossFit, Pilates etc weren’t obscure concepts from the West; everyone knew about them and wanted to try,” Arvind says.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to build a solution that offered variety along with convenience and affordability. And Altsoul was born.
“We aggregated classes from the best gyms, fitness studios, dance studios, swimming pools, and sports facilities. With one membership, you get to access all of it, as many times as you’d like to,” Arvind explains.
How Altsoul works
Altsoul charges a membership fee that ranges from Rs 499 for three days to Rs 15,000 for six months. When a user books a class at a particular studio, the startup pays the studio a certain amount. “Our core audience is working professionals in the age group of 22-45 years. Over half of our customers are women,” Rohit says.
Altsoul differentiates itself from other fitness aggregators such as Fitternity, Gympik, CULT, and MultiFit with its “membership pass” and the way it aggregates classes from multiple studios, gyms, and other facilities. It claims to be cheaper than most gym memberships.
“With CULT having started in Bengaluru, a lot of awareness around group classes had been built. We didn’t have to spend money educating the market,” Arvind says. Quitting their secure jobs and taking a leap of faith into the unknown was the founding duo’s biggest initial challenge.
“Luckily, we got instant product-market fit, and didn’t need to struggle for long with our product. A bigger challenge was reaching out to people without a marketing budget. That led us to use interesting hacks such as distributing cupcakes to our TG and starting conversations to our robust referral programme,” Arvind says.
Fitness: the way forward
Arvind says fitness penetration in India is 0.5 percent as compared to 17 percent in the US. According to him, 4.8 million gym memberships are sold in India annually as of now; this number is expected to go up to 15 million by 2025. “The current market size is about $1.2 billion and is poised to go up to $6 billion by 2025,” he says.
According to him, the market space today comprises gym aggregators (who help purchase gym memberships from specific gyms online), full-stack players (who provide multiple workouts under the same roof), and multiple studio memberships (like Altsoul).
Altsoul claims to have customer growth of 16 percent week on week since inception. “We are currently booking 500 classes per week and our revenues are growing at 18 percent week on week,” he says.
The startup is run by a team of three. Arvind is the CEO, Rohit is the CTO, and Devanshi Rungta is the head of design. Altsoul started its fundraising process in mid-August and is in advanced talks with investors. Its mobile app is work in progress. “Over the next 18 months, we plan to onboard 50-75 more centres in the neighbourhoods. We are also planning to start exclusive influencer/celebrity classes and workshops,” Arvind says.
Currently operating only in Bengaluru, Altsoul plans to expand to cities like Hyderabad, Pune and Mumbai next year.