How this fitness platform is working to make exercise fun for kids of all ages

Mumbai-based Kleinetics is a kids’ fitness system that aims to inculcate a love of exercising and staying healthy from a young age, to prevent the onset of unhealthy lifestyle disorders.
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Thanks to the advent of technology, gone are the days of children playing outdoors and expending their immense energy. This unspent energy results in an unhealthy body from an alarmingly young age.

Mumbai-based Kleinetics, co-founded by Dr Tejal Kanwar in 2017, is addressing this problem. Described as ‘India’s leading kids’ fitness system’, the key mission of this platform is to place fitness alongside reading, writing, and arithmetic as a critical life skill in Indian education, ensuring preventive intervention at a mass scale from an early age.

“There has been worldwide recognition of the fact that physical literacy is a fundamental learning need for kids today, alongside academic pursuits. Research has shown that even regular, moderate physical activity can help prevent metabolic disorders.

“Kleinetics was designed to help nurture kids’ natural love for physical activity, leaving a positive impact all the way into adulthood. Entertainment and group play are key ingredients that ensure that fitness doesn’t feel like bitter medicine,” shares Dr Tejal in a chat with YS Weekender.

The inception

An obstetrician-gynaecologist by training, Dr Tejal pursued her MBBS and MD degrees from Mumbai University. She has done a course in laparoscopy from Germany, and specialises in adolescent health and the lifestyle disorder known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Her interests pushed her to get certified in Fitness and Animal Flow, a form of exercise based on the natural movements of animals.

As a specialist in adolescent health, Dr Tejal realised the need for a structured approach to address the alarming growth of obesity and metabolic diseases in kids.

Hence, after being a full-time practising consultant at Apollo Spectra Hospital, and a lecturer at Wadia/KEM hospitals, she became an entrepreneur hoping to have the widest possible impact on children’s health.

“Our vision is to achieve foundational physical literacy for all Indian students by Class 3. Our programme is broad-based and fun, so kids like to participate. When my kids were growing up, I couldn’t find any convenient options to help them get fitter, and those that existed mostly felt like unpleasant work. So the only choice was to take matters into my own hands,” she says with conviction.

Kleinetics is a combination of ‘kinetics’, which is the study of motion, and the German word ‘Kleine’, which means little. The thought was to evoke a well-engineered system that offered big changes for little people.

The first fitness class was launched in Dr Tejal’s apartment complex in collaboration with fitness and sports medicine experts, and was a runaway success. After a variety of experiments, these classes spread across premium Mumbai residential complexes in the early days. Success soon followed with schools awakening to the benefits of her classes.

The Kleinetics system is an engaging fitness and athletics training programme for children that uses elements of group play, gamification and storification.

How it works

Kleinetics offers two verticals - the D2C version takes place in gated communities or neighbourhoods with play areas or turfs. A mother brings together a group of eight to 10 kids. Subscription packages are based on the number of sessions in a week and the group size. The prices incentivise memberships taken for longer durations.

The other model is for schools, where sessions can be offered as part of after-school programmes, or integrated directly into the curriculum as a replacement for the current PE/PT period. These are priced on a semester basis, and are more economical than the D2C offering.

Dr Tejal shares, “We have a team of certified and talented trainers. Due to the lack of a proper prep programme in the country, we developed our own core certification to get the coaches started with the right knowledge and experience.

"This includes 15 hours of classroom training and a minimum of 10 hours of apprenticeship on the ground, attached to a senior coach, which is an industry first.”

Most coaches have prior experience as players in league football and other sports, physiotherapy, sports and fitness coaching, and some in teaching as well. There are several national-level female athletes.

“Our world-class pure ‘Make in India’ product runs on the shoulders of these strong women (and men!),” Dr Tejal says.

Their leader boards encourage participation through recognition and pride as each group and coach combo gets points for fitness, healthy behaviour, challenges, and themes.

Described as “vitamin-enriched play time” for kids of all ages, the Kleinetics system is an engaging fitness and athletics training programme for children that adds elements of group play, gamification, and storification around a global-standard curriculum of functional fitness.

The key fitness areas covered include power, agility, cardio, and endurance. Elements of sports, along with mixed martial arts, dance, tabata, animal movements, and yoga are integrated into the programme.

The curriculum has more than 100 fitness markers, on successful completion of which, children unlock the drills for the next level. These are complemented by age-based, sport-specific skill milestones that enhance certain motor development skills of children.

“The programme has proven impact on a child’s self-confidence, self-esteem, and social skills, as well as academic performance. User compliance is the ultimate marker of success. Our 90 percent full-attendance rate, and 85 percent renewal rate are the result of ensuring that the kids enjoy a ‘play-out’, not a workout!” she says.

The Kleinetics team aims to integrate of technology into the product with attributes like storytelling, leaderboards, and gaming-style engagement.

The growth story

A health survey conducted by Sportz Village Schools earlier this year revealed that 51 percent of kids in Delhi have an unhealthy BMI. The survey showed it wasn’t just Delhi; children across India were displaying poor fitness levels. This makes platforms like Kleinetics increasingly important.

The initial investment in the business was approximately Rs 2 crore for research and pre-launch tests. As a bootstrapped business, the startup’s success is largely because the majority of their coaches are consultants, resulting in low fixed costs. The community-based outreach also saved marketing costs.

“The biggest challenge came during the lockdown when on-ground activities shut down. With encouragement from parents, we created online versions of our programme and developed protocols to create a Kleinetics atmosphere on a Zoom call.

"Instagram marketing and a community network push helped us find customers from seven countries. But the ultimate shot in the arm was online aggregators like Khelomore and Insider, which have helped with the distribution of digital classes,” Dr Tejal says.

Kleinetics has been cash-positive from the start, with revenues growing 80-100 percent up until the pandemic, which naturally upended operations. Fortunately, their tie-up with aggregator platforms helped them get back on track to achieve a 60 percent growth quarter on quarter.

The startup has been recognised as the Best Physical Education and Sports Education programme by The Indian Education Awards 2020, beating giant enterprise brands, and has received other noteworthy recommendations and rewards too.

This kind of programme had not been rolled out anywhere in the world. Cross-fit Kids is the closest, but they do not have any significant presence in India. Since we began three years ago, we are seeing fitness majors and startup brands building similar products, further validating our thoughts.

"Our core strength remains our unique pedagogy approach that we train our coaches in, to deliver highly engaging sessions using the vast base of fun games and exercises developed and matured over the past four years.”

Next up, the team is looking at integration of technology into the product with attributes like storytelling, leaderboards, and gaming-style engagement. They are also keen to launch the external coach certification programme, enabling anyone interested in kids’ fitness to create earning opportunities, and introduce Kleinetics in their neighbourhoods. Plans for expansion across India, especially in smaller cities, are also on the cards.

“We believe Kleinetics has the power and efficacy to be integrated into school board curricula, while developing a whole new world of fitness as entertainment,” says Dr Tejal, signing off.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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