While the Covid-19 pandemic has been a body blow to most businesses around the world, some have fared better than others. With most of the country under lockdown, fitness apps such as HealthifyMe, Fittr and Fitternity are experiencing a surge in usage.
“Our sessions per week as well as session times are up by 20% while our organic revenues are up by 40%,” Tushar Vashist, CEO and co-founder of HealthifyMe Wellness, a Bengaluru based startup that offers an eponymous digital weight loss platform, told TechCircle.
SQUATS Fitness, a Pune based startup that operates fitness and nutrition services platform Fittr, has had a similar experience. “We are seeing a 15% spike in terms of social media engagement and the people who have live sessions every day on our Facebook page. If we were getting page visits of one million people a week (earlier), now we are getting 4 million views a week,” said CEO Jitendra Chouksey.
Applications such as HealthifyMe, Fittr, and Fitternity are among a handful of apps, apart from OTT, educational and video conferencing apps, that have seen an increase in the number of registrations and usage, driven mainly by fitness enthusiasts, as well as general users who have taken to a healthy lifestyle under lockdown.
A study by Gurgaon based AI data intelligence firm Bobble AI said that fitness applications had seen a 39.5% increase in terms of time spent on the apps with a 14.72% increase in engagement rate. The daily active users (DAU) had also increased by 104.53%.
The lockdown has also made people realize that they don’t need to be present in a dedicated gym to start with their fitness journeys.
“Whatever they need is available on the platform in terms of workout videos, articles and recipes. There is a database of 600 plus exercises, yoga videos and home workout routines,” adds Fittr’s Chouksey.
From physical to digital
However, some fitness apps which connected the consumer to offline gyms and fitness classes,had to rethink their strategy and adapt to the virtual world.
Mumbai based Fitternity Health E-solution, an online platform which helps users find the best gym, pilates, yoga, zumba or any fitness related facilities or classes nearby, had to shift gears within a matter of weeks when the lockdown was imposed in late March.
“We are now running interactive live classes. We have trained 500 of our studio trainers and empowered them with the technology to take these classes virtually,” CEO Jayam Vora said in an interview with TechCircle.
The company did have plans to launch live virtual sessions in 2021 but the lockdown compelled the team to roll out the service sooner than planned. “And I think we finally reached a point where we believe that the virtual classes are at 80% efficiency of physical product launches,” Vora added.
Like Fitternity, other apps such as the Mukesh Bansal founded Cure.Fit and Fittr have also launched unique services to cater to home users. Cure.Fit has moved all its physical classes into virtual mode with at least a dozen sessions available on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, HealthifyMe, which is backed by investors such as Sistema Asia Fund, Blume Ventures and IDG Ventures India among others, has included innovative features such as hand-wash trackers, medicine trackers and sleep trackers as well as an immunity test where users can self-assess their immunity and make necessary lifestyle changes to up their guard against infections.
A paradigm shift for fitness cos?
“Many people are realizing that it is no big deal to workout at home and are adapting fast...,” says Fittr’s Choksey.
What this means is that there is a possibility that the rapid changes underway in the overall healthcare and fitness segment could trigger a paradigm shift where people become more accustomed to home based fitness routines.
Indeed, the idea of fitness as we know it, could change forever.
Fitternity’s Vora says that his company never saw the change to virtual classes was never envisaged as a stop-gap arrangement and believes the ‘workout from home’ idea can be scaled and monetized. He sees a future scenario where the lines between physical and virtual classes are blurred and treated alike.
“The way I envision is that by August, there could be a live CrossFit class happening in Bandra with 10 people and another 10 would be attending the class virtually from different parts of India,” he said. In the long term, he sees classes that will have 75% physical and 25% virtual attendees.
“People are not going to be visiting outside centers for achieving weight loss and staying fit. They'll be using apps and they'll be doing it more so from home. So there is a huge opportunity for providers like us to really take on the market right now,” adds HealthifyMe’s Vashist.
Some investors are certainly buying into the upsurge. Last week, Fittr raised $2 million in a bridge funding round led by Surge, the accelerator programme from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India. Fittr was part of Surge’s third cohort.
Corporate interest a big factor
Another critical factor that has played in favour of fitness and healthcare apps has been growing interest from corporate institutions.
HealthifyMe’s Vashist said that the company had more than 10 corporate clients partner with the health based application in the first two weeks of April alone. “Some of the companies on-boarded include an NBFC, a rewards portal, a travel website as well as a media agency,” he said.
Fitternity has also seen a sharp increase in the number of corporates approaching the startup for its services. This stems from many corporate houses now understanding the need to keep their workforce healthy and with high immunity. “While we used to always work with 40-plus large corporations, currently we are interacting with more than 200 of these companies,” said Vora.