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Evolution of Fitness Industry in India

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The fitness industry has come a long way from the days of the local akhadas to providing international services.

Throughout prehistoric time, man’s quest for fitness has been driven by a desire to survive and he did this through hunting. Celebrations and functions made people travel for miles to neighbouring tribes to visit friends and family, where dancing and cultural games would often last several hours demanding a high level of fitness and consisting of various forms of physical activity. This then evolved to agriculture and farming and then to train men to be fit soldiers.

Today fitness is driven towards health and well-being.

The industry is not organised and only a handful of global payers and the sector is fragmented and there is a need for consolidation into an organised sector. The mom and pop structures are giving way to organised retailing in the gym business’s and it is felt that this process will accelerate in coming year and will be an opportunity for global players like Gold’s Gym.

In India, the market for health and wellness has been growing. Today’s busy lifestyle hardly leaves consumers with time to exercise or follow a fitness regime. Driven by guilt, they are doing everything possible to lead a ‘healthy life’ and the food they consume tops the list. Probiotic, sugar-free, low-cholesterol, baked not fried are some of the tag-lines we see in product packaging these days.

Looking at well-toned bodies of celebrities and sports icons combined with a young lifestyle and growing fashion, Indian consumer is getting drawn to fitness tness as never seen before. The fitness  trend is encouraging the consumer to look and feel fitness t and going energetically through a daily
routine drives the category growth. Whatever be the mean to achieve fitness–the consumer does not mind it coming for a price.

Market Size & Growth

Total retail market for fitness category is worth Rs. 4,579 Cr (US$ 0.76 bn) growing at 16-18 per cent and is expected to cross Rs. 7,000 crore (US$ 1.18 bn) by 2017. Modern retail is estimated at 28 per cent of this total market and is expected to grow by 22-27 per cent.

Market segmentation

Fitness market is a healthy combination of products and services. Products are being sold but more through B2B or institutional sales and mostly to the service providers. Since these products need to be used under expert supervision they are found to be present in fitness centers more than
being used at home as singular units. On the other hand services component will keep growing with each passing year. This will eventually lead to higher market share in the overall category. Whether it is yoga centre, health centre, gyms or slimming centers, they are all providing services
and to facilitate these services relevant products and equipments are being used.

(The above mentioned excerpt is sourced from the India Retail Report 2015- the most comprehensive report on the Indian retail market)

The future sees many fitness centres emerging as the customer spending has increased as the sedentary lifestyles in youth has increased illness forcing the customers to opt for training at fitness centres

India is fast emerging as a modern community that sees the importance of Sports and health. It is seen that People spend on an average 4-5 hrs a day on recreational activities be it leisure or sport. The time spent depends on the age group, gender and employment status.

The second driver is – the amount spent on these activities. The amount of time people spend on leisure and sport indicates the amount they spend on Fitness.

Illnesses such as heart disease and obesity has led people to become more conscious about their health. Also the social status attached to a gym has made people join gyms. Gym and personal training often require expenditure and participating in such activities displays a level of wealth similar to owning a large diamond ring or a luxury vehicle. Also, consumers need to have the time to spend hours at an expensive gym or visit to a personal trainer, and having this free time is another sign of wealth.

Along with high-end activities, consumers can show off their fit social status by the clothes they wear and equipment they use. They spend on clothes and hi end accessories so these industries are thriving too.

The most popular driver is the need to look good and feel good. The Bollywood industry sets goals for the local public to follow. Everyone wants to look like a Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, John Abraham or a Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone or Kareena Kapoor so the rush to follow their workouts and their diet programs.

The fitness oriented customer is mostly in the age group of 20-40 years right from their college days to their professional days mainly to look good. Post 40 is generally the set of customers that have come in because of their health issue or people that have been told to work out by their doctors to fight diseases.

Earlier it was predominantly dominated by the male population. Today we see 45 per cent of the members being female. Education and access to the Internet has changed the views of women to take up gymming. Osteoporosis cases have been on the rise, a warning bell for women to take heed of their health and fitness. Breast cancer continues to kill millions of women and is in fact the second most common form of cancer among women in India.

The market and challenges for gyms is the same as anywhere else. “First being the lack of education about the benefits of exercise, health & fitness and the second challenge is the unplanned and unregulated opening of gyms of all types, shapes and sizes, which are not equipped or staffed to provide a safe and fun exercise environment. A lot of such gyms open up with a lot of fanfare and positioning but immediately start reckless discounting as they are not able to build a healthy membership base and cash flow.

We see the Industry growing at 20per cent and Gold’s Gym will grow by a minimum of 30per cent. For that gyms have to provide quality services.

About the author: G Ramachandran is Founder and Director  of Gold’s Gym, India. Gold’s Gym India is the fastest growing gym chain in the country. It is the largest international gym chain in the world recognised for its passion, unique heritage, and experience as the final authority in fitness and lifestyle.

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