This Gurugram-based at-home fitness startup wants to be the Peloton for India

More people today are working out at home than ever before, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that has necessitated social distancing norms, as well as unexpected lockdowns. Flexnest, founded by fitness enthusiasts Rhea and Raunaq Singh Anand, is helping people work out better. Here’s how
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Peloton, an e-bike for home workouts, might have become a household name for all the wrong reasons — notably, its ‘sexist’ and ‘dystopian’ Christmas ad — but there’s no denying it was making huge waves in the home fitness industry before that. A stationary bike workout that lets you remotely participate in group classes via streaming? Yes, please!

With the pandemic forcing people to stay indoors, the proposition Peloton offered was attractive, and one that let people work out whilst remaining COVID-safe. Closer home though, Peloton wasn’t an option — importing it from the US would have costed lakhs of rupees. And India did not have any fitness solutions like Peloton.

Sure, there were community exercise platforms such as Cult.fit or individual trainers conducting group Zoom workout sessions, but they didn’t offer any sort of integrations with workout equipment, and were mostly floor exercises.

And even if you were okay with floor exercises, you still needed some equipment — like a good, non-slip yoga mat, or a moveable gym floor. Options in the Indian market tend to be either of bad quality, or not appropriate for serious workouts.

Flexnest's Flexibike (Image credit: Flexnest)

That bothered wife-husband duo, Rhea and Raunaq Singh Anand, two fitness enthusiasts who had been looking for solutions like Peloton in India. They had been living in the US for a while, and had used the Peloton bike personally.

“Once the pandemic hit and all gyms shut down, we had to look for fitness products for home use. We were shocked when we discovered that nothing existed in the Indian market. It was either bad quality products available at mom-and-pop shops, or we had to import equipment, which costs lakhs of rupees,” Rhea tells YourStory.

They decided to do something about it themselves, and Flexnest, their home fitness D2C brand, came into being.

Founded in 2020, Flexnest is a Gurugram-based fitness startup that offers premium smart and non-smart fitness equipment for home use. The startup integrates its smart equipment with content solutions to enable people to work out in groups, via online classes.

Flexnest currently has over 15 products on its website and on Amazon.in, as well as a mobile app where users can track their body vitals, as well as do group or individual workouts.

Products and offerings

Flexnest offers items such as dumbbells, kettlebells, yoga mats, yoga blocks, resistance banda, and gym flooring, among several other home-workout products that it claims are premium quality — “the same top-quality materials as international fitness brands”, its website says — but, at the same time, affordable, because of its “much lower” overhead costs.

In the smart category, it offers a Bluetooth-enabled bike — called Flexibike — that connects to the internet and allows users to participate in virtual classes. Users can also go on ‘virtual rides’ in over 100 different cities around the world.

The Flexibike retails for Rs 29,999, versus Peloton, which costs upwards of Rs 1 lakh. Its biggest competitor in India includes TREAD Fitness, which costs around Rs 50,000, and Gurugram-based startup SynQFit, whose smart bike starts at Rs 69,500.

Flexnest's Flexibike (Image courtesy: Flexnest)

Flexibike does not come with a fixed screen, like Peloton, TREAD, and Synq.fit though. It has a Bluetooth sensor that connects with the user’s iPad or tablet — but all other functionalities are the same.

The second smart equipment in its portfolio is the Flexscale — a weighing scale that gives users the ability to view and track 13 body metrics, such as fat and protein.

“The at-home fitness journey for the end consumer is quite broken. Content providers and equipment providers are completely separate and do not have any integration,” Rhea says.

“We offer connected solutions that seamlessly combine hardware, software, content, and community to make fitness convenient and truly engaging,” she adds.

The bootstrapped, profitable startup has sold products to over 15,000 customers since it started selling in January this year. It aims to grow using connected devices, and “be the Peloton for India.”

The startup has been creating its own media content such as workouts and bike rides, and hopes to launch more workout plans on its app soon.

Flexnest’s main all-under-one-roof competitor includes Cult.Fit which offers live classes, workout content, an app to track all workout activities and, with the acquisition of TREAD, smart, e-equipment such as bikes too. Otherwise, fragmented players such as Decathlon for sports equipment, and HealthifyMe — an online fitness app — dominate the space.

Since April 2020, sales of home gym equipment have jumped nearly 50-60 percent as people took to working out at home more than going to gyms, according to a report by Orion Market Research.

The global home fitness equipment market is expected to grow from $10.73 billion in 2021, to $14.74 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 4.6 percent, buoyed by the launch of smart workout equipment such as bikes and treadmills, a Fortune Business Insights report said.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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