India is among the fastest-growing fitness markets in the world, and is estimated to be worth $14 billion in the next four years.
However, given the disruption the fitness industry has witnessed over the past two years, there have been massive shutdowns, and we’re seeing a flurry of digital offerings. In an era that tech developers are high in demand, every conceivable business now has an online presence. Consumers, too, are more inclined to (and are habituated to) using online and at-home services, whether that is ordering food, essentials, or getting a haircut.
In the fitness industry, app-based online coaching is the new revolution, given the low-cost, convenience, flexibility, and ability to train without being intimidated by the gym pros around one.
Many apps rely on fitness training videos they can follow at home, instead of having to visit a fitness facility. In a human-assisted model, the coaches provide the programs, and clients log their foods, track their training, and sync their wearables to get their sleep data, calories, and steps taken, all to improve their fitness levels, health, and their lifestyles.
This suggests that people “want to” be fit, and are willing to go lengths to access and achieve it – but are overwhelmed with conflicting information, low motivation and accountability, and unaffordable prices.
People usually face three challenges:
- Awareness: People don’t know (and so don’t care) that they’re slowly withering away; this can be solved by showing them data
- Access: India has 750mn smartphone subscribers (1 billion by 2026). While about 200 million people use social media apps, fitness apps account for under 1% of this (1-1.5 million).
- Affordability: Quality coaching costs money, and affordable online coaching usually don’t pay attention to results.
These varied virtual fitness offer access to the best fitness programs to people from all backgrounds – from office-goers to college students to home-makers – at a fraction of the cost of hiring personal trainers. All this, in the convenience of their homes, at the time of their choosing, and at their own pace.
The global virtual fitness market size is estimated to grow from $8 billion in 2020 to $60 billion by 2027, representing an aggressive compound growth rate of 33% from 2020 to 2027.
While fitness tech was already a buzzphrase before 2020, it has drawn more attention after the pandemic hit. And while fitness apps grew by 45% worldwide, they grew 156% in India, hitting 95 million downloads during the pandemic. Stuck in their houses, with time on their hands, and gyms and parks and sports arenas shut down, people took to fitness. Smart wearables also grew sharply in India, with the market growing 170% in Q1 2021. The key metrics provided by these apps include sleep patterns, resting heart rates, calorie burned, and steps.
So, how does the future of fitness look?
We’ve already seen a convergence of digital and physical offerings, and a host of fitness coaching options online. There is already so much on offer – from online fitness classes, smart wearables, to virtual communities, all with an endless list.
Remote formats are fast becoming the way to go, and more tech platforms are queuing up to provide new fitness experiences, which place fitness enthusiasts front and center. The concept of hyper-personalization is becoming commonplace, with more companies realizing the importance of curating programs built around people. Paired with technology, this can provide deep analytics about consumers lifestyles, habits, and the ability to curate programs exclusively for users.
But the industry is just beginning to mature. Incredible things are just waiting to happen. Improving online coaching and helping people to take care of their minds and bodies is important as a holistic approach – and all this can be built in this upcoming Metaverse.
What matters most is consistency. Programs designed around users help people stick to them. Such people tend to be more successful in their quest to lose weight, whilst not giving up on foods they love, and doing the type of training they enjoy.
Ketan Mavinkurve is founder and CEO of Alpha Coach
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