Too Fit To Quit: India’s Fitness Story
Growing affluence of middle class, greater exposure to global food trends and health and fitness concerns have brought alive the magic of fitness programmes for Indians. But has it translated to better health?
Indians might have traditionally put food before fitness, but a recent survey has revealed that the country is undergoing a revolution with 60 per cent of people spending more than 4 hours a week on fitness.
Over 1500 men (54 percent) and women (46 percent) surveyed across top 8 cities, between 20–35 years of age and engaged in at least one fit-ness activity per week stated the Fit India survey conducted by Reebok.
The findings of the city-wise survey were based on the Fitscore that was determined by combining the number of hours devoted to fitness each week, frequency of working out, number of fitness activities participated in and how fit people in the city feel.
Celebrity fitness instructor Sucheta Pal, points out that there has been a paradigm shift in the way people look at fitness these days . “My 65-year-old arthritic mother in law has been rocking it in a Zumba class for the last two years; a lady who had never entered the gym in her entire life. From a first timer to a pro fitness athlete, from a 16 year old to a 60 year old and from a ballet dancer to a marathoner everyone is taking to fitness in a big way. A proof of this is the kind of products like watches, energy drinks and healthy food products being marketed and there is no dearth of apps either.”
The Growing Industry
The fitness industry in India is worth Rs 4500 crore. It is growing at 16–18 percent annually and is expected to cross Rs 7000 crore by 2017. The industry is fragmented with majority of the market dominated by unorganized and independent gym outlets. There are over 21,000 health and wellness centres across India as of 2014.
The market share of the top 5 players in India is around 15% compared to 40% in Japan and Singapore and about 20% in China. Thus organized players have huge scope of consolidation.
The fitness industry usually requires huge investment usually around 1 crore, and this has prevented a lot of Private Equity and Venture Capital investment in the sector. However, there are lot of investments in the field of fitness applications. The global health and fitness mobile app market was worth around $4bn in 2014 with a possibility to increase up to $26bn by 2017.
Key Growth Drivers
Growing disposable income is one of the key reasons for the growth of the sector says Amaresh Ojha, founder of Gympik. Ojha’s personal hunt for a good personal trainer led to the formation of Gympik, that provides information about health and fitness centres with images, panoramic views, membership details, offers, trainer profiles, user reviews and ratings on the platform. “There is a rising awareness of healthy lifestyle among Indians. Many are worried about the rise in lifestyle related diseases like obesity and diabetes. This has led to the growth of the sector.” However, he points out that the growth in the sector has been slow.
“Market penetration rate in India is as low as 0.5% compared to 16% in USA and 12% in UK , which leaves tremendous room for growth.
Organized fitness market is concentrated in top eight cities of India.
Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad
with more than 60% of top companies located here. While the market will continue to grow in these cities, high real estate costs will drive players to look at tier 2 and 3 cities for growth. Hence, a higher growth in the premium and mid-end of the market is anticipated,” he adds.
“Even 5 years back, fitness was not considered a lucrative career but today with gyms opening up in every corner of India and viable alternative fitness career options, things look positive. What we do need is a governing body which will protect the remuneration of fitness trainers hired by gyms and better quality fitness education. It’s happening and soon you will see our very own fitness convention in India,” says Sucheta Pal.
“Having worked in the fitness industry in the US for almost three years and grateful to my current role with Zumba® which has given me the opportunity to present in over 11 countries and some very prestigious Fitness Expos like FIBO Germany, IFEX Indonesia, Japan AFAA conference and Asia Fitness Convention, there is one realization that we have a long way to go but we are on the right path .”
Who is the Fitness Consumer?
Neha Motwani, CEO of Fitternity, a managed marketplace platform for fitness, points that when they started out in 2014, there was nothing much happening in related to fitness online. “The market was very gym-driven and the fitness journey usually involved physically going to Talwalkars. Today fitness has hit an inflection point in India , notes the CEO of platform which has 5 lakh users.
According to Motwani, there are three types of fitness consumers in India- sitters, seekers and hunters. Sitter, is someone who has never tried any fitness programme in his entire life. He will get into fitness only if there is a medical trigger like a medical report or a life changing event. Seekers, on the other hand, are constantly on the lookout for different kind of programmes like marathons, zumba, aerobics and have weight loss fixation. Hunters, have already achieved a level of fitness and who are looking for more opportunities to challenge themselves.
“Hunter population in India is miniscule, less than 5 percent of the population. We believe the seeker population has evolved in the last five years. According to our surveys, there are 5 million users consuming professional fitness services in 8 Indian cities . Earlier fitness was about going to gym, consulting a
dietician, walking or doing yoga. Now there are multiple activities like Zumba, martial arts, Pilates, yoga, aqua-aerobics. Crossfit and Zumba are the top two programmes considered as most trending as gym. The focus is on overall fitness rather than weight-loss. Many users want to do bungee jumping, river rafting, marathons and hence they need to be fit to do any kind of sport.”
Is Staying Fit Expensive?
Is the frugal Indian consumer ready to spend on fitness programmes. “Yes,” says Motwani, adding, “Three years ago, the average ticket size for our user was 3500. Today it is 8500. There are members who shell out even up to Rs. 40,000 for programmes like Crossfit.” Similarly, an average gym membership usually costs from Rs 12,000-Rs 40,000. The cost for Zumba and other dance based fitness varies from Rs 3000-Rs4000.
Has it all Translated to Good Health?
In the modern world, just working out and exercising is not enough. With diets like General Motors, Ketogenic, Gluten free, Vegan amongst others present for various body types, the awareness and adoption of a particular diet is still very limited. Clearly, eating disorders already have many in their grip. A study brought out by ICRIER, on fruit and vegetable consumption, availability and implications on phytonutrient intake revealed that even high and middle-income educated Indians are consuming less than the World
Health Organization’s recommended five servings-of 80gm each of fruits and vegetables. According to a study conducted by Gympik, 70 percent of people don’t follow any diet.
Even if a person is sporting six pack abs, what does their diet mainly consists of? Proteins. This could actually be harmful for the person and could lead to high level of fat in blood and increased uric acid levels. For the calorie conscious fitness enthusiasts, there are calorie calculated meal providers like 6packmeals.com, Caloriecare.com, Foodizm.in, Soulcare.in and Magicomeal.com.
And now consider this: India has the second highest number of obese children in the world after China, according to an alarming study which found that 14.4 million kids in the country have excess weight. Need one say more?
Author : Team HE