We have grown up listening to the adage "Survival of the Fittest" -- in the context of competitive sports, academics and even business. However, not too long ago, being fit literally increased our chances of survival.
A lot has changed since our hunting and foraging days though. From fitness being a part of our daily routine in the form of walking, cycling or intense physical labour during the pre-digital era, to becoming a fervently adopted lifestyle choice, the evolution of fitness and its significance in our lives has changed dramatically, to say the least.
Fitness has, over the centuries, travelled quite far from people relying on natural movement like walking or jogging, doing household chores, or following a fitness regime at the local "akhadas", to modern physical exercises that include circuit training, modified yoga programmes, Pilates, parkour workouts among other innovations that have taken place in the industry.
Of course, the need to lead healthier lives has been more pronounced in recent years because of the rise of lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes, among others. Naturally, these changes have also provided much-needed fillip to the fitness industry in India which has been largely unorganised and fragmented thus far. With more people focused on leading healthier lives, looking good and feeling good in today's sedentary, digitally-connected world, the onus lies on the fitness industry to keep pace with timely innovation that can deliver better fitness experiences to the end user.
Technology is bringing the "A Game" for fitness in India, with Awareness, Accessibility and Affordability
Awareness: We live in an information-fuelled world and, as a result, the end user is empowered with ample health-related information like never before. With the power of information in the hands of the customer, fitness initiatives such as marathons and yoga camps have taken centrestage, providing much-needed impetus to the rising fitness wave in the nation. Add to this the catalytic role that new age fitness start-ups have played, and it is now possible for individuals to make more informed choices that suit one's lifestyle and health needs, making fitness an incumbent choice than ever.
Accessibility: While the fitness industry remains largely fragmented, technology has played a critical role in creating a shift in organising the industry over the last few years. Be it making it easier to discover fitness centres near you with suitable fitness choices or providing customised fitness solutions, there are mobile based apps that make the discovery process easier, organised, and far more intuitive.
Affordability: Technology has not only made the consumer more informed and empowered but has also made fitness solutions more affordable than ever before. It is now possible to subscribe to fitness plans that suit one's budget and needs while saving travel time and prohibitive gym membership costs, which were earlier only affordable for a few. Fitness aggregation platforms have driven down costs for gym memberships by providing a plethora of choices from personal trainers to special fitness classes, ensuring a steady supply of members for fitness centres and an endless stream of choices for the discerning end user, creating a win-win situation for all involved.
Further growth in the segment is expected at a CAGR of 9.3 per cent between 2018 and 2022, taking the total market value to a whopping $1,296 million in 2022. Through joint efforts of the government and private players in the fitness industry, I am confident, that the future of fitness will observe attaining a holistic sense of well-being in our country and awareness on the practical ways to keep the lifestyle ailments at bay.
(Amaresh Ojha is Founder&CEO, Gympik. The views expressed are personal)
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