The Fitness Boom in India

18 Apr 2019

Since pre-historic times, mankind’s tryst with fitness has been driven by the survival instinct, and today, we aspire to fitness for well-being and confidence. New modes of exercise keep our interest going, some of which include resistance training, Zumba and dance, aerial yoga, pilates, kickboxing, and adventure sports.

In India, various ways were adopted to remain fit – ‘akhadas’ were quite commonly seen in various parts of the country, especially in tier II and tier III cities. Ayurveda, yoga and other wellness practices have always been prevalent in Indian society. With changing lifestyles, traditional ways of wellness are being supplemented by a modern, newer fitness industry.

The fitness sector has evolved from an unstructured industry into a more comprehensive ecosystem with trained facilitators, appropriate equipment, and schedules that make it easier for people to get into fitness as a structured, regular activity. Hence, people have started signing up with fitness centers in large numbers, resulting in the rapid growth of this sector.

According to a CII-Deloitte India report, the fitness industry in India was expected to cross USD 1.1 billion by 2017. And by recognizing ‘wellness’ as one of the priority sectors in its Make in India campaign, the Government has given impetus to the sector.

Fitness centers are burgeoning as disposable per capita income rises, and sedentary lifestyles lower immunity amongst today’s youth.

This is not just restricted to urban areas and cities, but is prevalent in tier II and tier III cities, towns and even in villages. Global and leading Indian corporations and offices have given this industry a push by introducing in-house fitness centres and health clubs at their premises for their employees to use. Hotels have also been leading the trend, providing gyms and spas to cater to the rising demands of the new age, health conscious customers. Modern residential societies or gated communities invariably house a gym.

Multinational fitness chains and gyms in India are now taking the franchisee route. Considering the large numbers of India’s middle-class population, there is enough space for such players. A new concept of ‘open gyms’ is emerging, with public parks setting up gym equipment and encouraging users to exercise and become health conscious.

Another trend is that of wearables and fitness apps, which helps users to track their daily activities and work towards their fitness goals. The global industry for these two segments has grown to almost $15 billion in 2018 and can be expected to continue expanding as more people become conscious of maintaining health parameters.

The fitness-oriented customers are mostly in the age group of 20-40, however, today even people in the age group 40-70 are investing in gyms and fitness centres to help them deal with lifestyle diseases like diabetes. 45% of gym members are women.

As competition increases, the possibility of growth for this industry increases. The health and fitness industry in India is witnessing tremendous growth and is poised at an inflection point. The market potential and the overall growth are encouraging more players and investors in this industry.

Three things are driving this boom:

Health Insurance Costs: The costs are encouraging people to opt for a healthier lifestyle, so as to avoid diseases and the pressing need for expensive insurance.
Healthy Food: Indian consumer demand can be seen shifting towards natural, healthier, and organic options.
Fitness-monitoring Wearables: Technology is invading every business sector, and the new technology-driven fitness measuring wearable gadgets are creating a buzz in the market and driving the fitness wave.

The fitness industry has great potential in India and is poised to grow at an impressive rate in the coming years. India is slowly, but surely, moving towards being a nation of fitter people.

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