Virtual fitness to disrupt Indian health industry in post Covid world: FITTR CEO

New Delhi, Jul 4 (IANS): As the Indian fitness industry witnessed great momentum during the last two years in the pandemic, Covid-19 resulted in accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) integrations to optimize consumers’ fitness needs.

In such a scenario, FITTR, which is the world’s largest online fitness and nutrition community, leveraged AI to best meet the needs of the consumer and guide them on their fitness journey.

FITTR built an AI Algorithm that matches the users’ needs to the best fitness and nutritional and personal coach which helps in achieving the desired goals most effectively and efficiently.

Jitendra Chouksey, Founder and CEO, FITTR, told IANS that they are witnessing a new breed of fitness enthusiasts who are comfortable in following a hybrid model to meet their fitness goals, thus making virtual fitness a key component in the industry.

Here are the excerpt from an interview:

Q: How is AI/ML disrupting the Indian fitness industry? What are some of the trends and technologies which excite you the most in the Indian fitness tech industry?

A: Artificial Intelligence is being deemed as the future of technology by experts all around the world. Just like what we have witnessed in the last few years, technology won’t take any time to enter the world of fitness once the meteoric rise of AI begins.

With the disruption in the fitness industry, technological innovations are sure to offer an optimal diagnosis of the entire human body and provide apt analysis using AI. Artificial Intelligence is already being used in the fitness industry to optimize consumers’ fitness needs — be it finding the right coach, getting the best-personalised nutrition/ diet plan or even the best-suggested route to get fit with a week-on- week analysis.

Additionally, AI can lend a helping hand in devising plans thereby giving more time for coaches to work on giving the overall client-coach service experience.

At FITTR, during the pandemic, we leveraged AI to best meet the needs of the consumer and help them guide their fitness journey.

FITTR built an AI Algorithm that matches the users’ needs to the best fitness and nutritional and personal coach which helps in achieving the desired goals most effectively and efficiently.

The app takes inputs from the user — age, gender, workout experience, city, food habits, lifestyle habits, and goal and recommends the best coaches to achieve their fitness goal.

The accelerating movement to the virtual landscape and the importance of digitalisation skyrocketing in a post-Covid-19 world led to the huge growth in the health and fitness segment.

We are witnessing a new breed of fitness enthusiasts came into the fold who are comfortable in following a hybrid model to meet their fitness goals, thus making virtual fitness a key component in the industry.

Q: What is your long-term vision and mission for FITTR?

A: Post the series A funding round, we have been growing and working towards increasing our service offerings beyond nutritional plan and fitness coaching by venturing into mental and emotional wellbeing segment along with sports nutrition and sports fitness.

At FITTR, we aim to be a top-notch digital fitness platform that has offers unified services that cater to consumers every need ie, getting the right information about their body in terms of fat content and calorie intake etc. along with accurate customized nutritional plan and professional fitness and wellness coaching via +650 INFS certified coaches.

Being a homegrown brand, we are also focusing on increasing our presence and expanding our reach in destinations beyond India, including the US, UK, Canada and Middle East.

Additionally, at FITTR, we want to create a culture of great diversified workforce and hence are focusing on constantly expanding our team and hiring the right set of people that understand our vision and want to grow with us.

Our aim is to make 50 million people fit in the next decade and create 100,000 meaningful career opportunities in the fitness industry. We are aiming to create employment for over 1,000 coaches in the next 12-18 months.

Q: The pandemic accelerated the pace at which digital fitness services and tools were consumed. Do you see this as a structural or cyclical shift? What is your strategy to continue building on the momentum?

A: The pandemic shifted consumers’ sentiment towards health and fitness. They got more serious towards addressing their health issues by working out and making alterations in their nutrition.

This is where we, at FITTR, helped them with access to quantified nutrition plans, scientific back health related knowledge and over 650 INFS certified coaches who guided them towards leading a healthy life.

It was during the pandemic when we launched our personal fitness services and we have seen a 100 per cent growth so far. This is another great example to showcase the upward consumer trend with respect to health and fitness.

As a leading fitness platform, our strategy has always been spreading awareness, as we still feel that people are apprehensive towards fitness.

We want to break that barrier and serve as a bridge by bringing fitness to the comfort of their homes. So far, we have transformed 300,000 lives and have more than three million-strong communities, which definitely showcases the credibility of our services and the trust of consumers in FITTR as a fitness brand.

We will continue to increase our service offerings and build awareness, which will further strengthen the fitness movement that we have embarked upon.

Q: What has cloud technology and AWS allowed you to do that you couldn’t do before?

A: Innovative cloud technology solutions have been deployed by many industries to simplify and streamline the delivery of services including fitness and healthcare. Being a technology led fitness platform, at FITTR, we have leveraged cloud technology and AWS to support our growing business’ high-performance needs.

It has helped us to ensure seamless delivery of personalized fitness and nutrition services to our consumers in an organized and secure manner. It has further enabled us to deliver better outcomes and build tools that fit impeccably and address the fitness needs of the consumers.

Advancement in technology including cloud tech is a critical step of our digital journey and offers us the competitive edge in the tech led fitness and wellness market.

We have been on AWS since inception and AWS allowed us to ship value faster without having the hassle to manage the infrastructure. We were able to rapidly scale our services with the growth in our consumer base. Another great advantage was rapid experimentation to build the right architecture for our requirements.

AWS has provided FITTR with an easy and efficient way to organize data storage and processing while developing and upgrading our app. It has offered us a ready ecosystem without any hassle of maintaining and allocating servers, thus ensuring zero downtime.

We are also secured with a high level of protection and superior encryption.

The AWS Cost explorer and account managers have always helped us reduce the cost with the right guidance.

Through AWS, we pay for what we use. AWS helps us in identifying resources that are idle or underutilised. These resources are then either stopped or downsized, thus reducing overall costs.

Q: We are seeing global liquidity dry up as interest rates tend upwards. Do you expect a tough road ahead for the Indian startup ecosystem in terms of raising funding and compressed valuations?

A: The Indian startup ecosystem is as robust as ever and among the world’s fastest-growing ecosystems. Within this ecosystem, health and fitness tech startups stand out as annual growth rate (CAGRA2022-2026) is expected to be 9.49 per cent, resulting in a projected market volume of Rs 4.98 billion by 2026.

The pandemic gave health and fitness startups the much-needed push and helped in the accelerated growth that it has been witnessing.

For us at FITTR’s, our growth has been organic. We take pride in the fact the positive word of mouth speaks volumes of the strong community connection that we have.

We ensure that every consumer that comes on the FITTR platform is committed to his/her fitness journey and is motivated by the strong 5 million community members, to keep going and achieve his/her fitness goals.

We have been profitable and have witnessed a YoY growth of 48 per cent in FY 21-22 and crossed $16 million in annualized booking rate, which proves that the need for digital fitness is increasing and there is definite potential for growth.

Even though the global liquidity has been seeing a downward trend in some segments, the future for health and fitness startups continues to look bright.

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