Why is the online fitness industry booming?

In a panel discussion with YourStory on ‘How is India staying fit amid the pandemic’, Jayam Vora, Co-founder and COO, Fitternity and Afsar Zaidi, Co-founder and CEO, HRX discuss the industry and future trends.
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It has been a paradoxical year for the fitness industry. The pandemic induced lockdowns disrupted operations of fitness centres across India, but on the other hand, COVID-19 came as a wake-up call for people to maintain their wellbeing. 

‘Digital fitness’ and ‘holistic well being’ are two major growth areas witnessed in this year, according to Fitternity’s Co-founder and COO, Jayam Vora and HRX’s Co-founder and CEO, Afsar Zaidi – as they discuss this digital change and increased awareness around fitness. 

Fitness app downloads have gained massive momentum since the start of 2020. As per the World Economic Forum, there was a 46 percent increase in the downloads of health and fitness apps across the world in Q1 and Q2 across the globe. India recorded the highest increase in app downloads at a colossal 156 percent.

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Fitternity, a fitness aggregator platform, was able to expand its brand reach to Tier-I and II cities because of the uptick in digital usage. Jayam Vora said that their option of online trainers helped them reach out to people in cities where fitness centres weren’t as accessible. 

As for the fitness apparel segment, Hritik Roshan-owned HRX saw a huge spurt in growth and is eyeing revenues of at least Rs 600 crore in FY22. Afsar notes that there has been a particular focus on fitness since the pandemic and customers have adapted to the digital form of shopping. The brand’s apparel, shoes, and sports equipment sections have seen growth in the past year, and they plan to branch out to new products. 

The brand’s business model is to allow for more partnerships to increase its presence.

“We align with partners who are specialists in their space,” says Afsar about the HRX-Myntra alignment. They won’t be looking at external funding, he added.

“Around us, there are touchpoints which are compelling us to become fitter,” explains Afsar on the sudden fitness-consciousness that is noticed by him across workspaces and homes. 

This heightened sense of fitness awareness was also witnessed by Fitternity where their OnePass subscription model helped them sustain. The uncertainty of lockdowns has led people to think twice about paying for gym memberships and subscriptions. There can be an expectation of having a customer-friendly model that is inclusive of studios and gyms. 

“People are looking at fitness more holistically now. It’s become a package of working out, eating right and mental health,” points out Jayam Vora.

He plans to make Fitternity more interactive for its digital trainers, and says that people will still go to the gym and also use digital-first tools. There will now be a third user who will use both. 

Fitternity’s immediate goal is to go back to its pre-COVID-19 numbers and build up from there with an expectation that there might be an influx of more people in the gyms now. 

The anticipated fitness trends for the coming years are expected to be online fitness training, wearable technology, home gyms, mindful exercising, and productive workouts. 

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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