Everyone in the world is under the influence of forces that sub-consciously induce desires in everyone’s minds. Our ancient ancestors were hunter-gatherers who moved around a lot, to the account of several kilometres a day, because they had to find fresh sources of food day in, day out. The result was that they were much fitter and agile as compared to modern humans, who’ve substituted movement for largely sedentary lifestyles. Second, their diets were varied, since their sources of food were always different, varying almost every day. A rich diet and daily movement is the mantra every modern fitness chain propagates, and for good reason. We’re animals and we need to move continuously. We’ve been doing so for millions of years. That is the reason why many fitness enthusiasts feel ‘connected’ to nature and themselves after their hard workouts. The brain still thinks we’re in the jungle.
India is in the throes of a demographic dividend, our median age being just twenty-nine. We’ve the largest cohort of millennials in the world, a generation influenced by the proliferation of social media and technological developments. Everyone wants to look good and feel good, and talk about it with their friends and colleagues, sharing information about their fitness and lifestyle goals.
In this environment, many health clubs and facilities have needed to increasingly re-invent themselves from time to time, changing their business models to suit the appetite of the modern fitness enthusiast. Bangalore Insider recently spoke to the founder of Fitness Ace, a chain of health clubs focussed on driving the best results for their users.
Give a brief info about your startup?
Pay As You Gym” @ Fitness Ace
Year 2016 is when I started Fitness Ace. Fitness Ace Health Club basically is one-stop solution for ones wellness and health centre. The facility includes Weights & Cardio, Swimming pool, Mixed Martial Arts, Toning Table and Group Classes (Zumba, Yoga, HIIT etc).
The Vision:- Premium health club for a premium you, at a very affordable cost.
The start-up was to develop an app which allows anyone to access our clubs and pay only when they use. This basically boosts up the confidence of people to hit the gym and workout. otherwise for which they would give a second thought for long term commitment and not using for what they have paid within the stipulated time period.
What made you start your startup and what problem does it solve?
The health and wellness will be the most debated topic this decade. I always thought how do we motivate the passive gym-goers, and as I noticed lot of people love to hit a workout session and they pay upfront and don’t turn up after a weeks time and later we call them for renewal once the subscription is finished and now they are scared to renew because of commitment issues . These passive gym-goers have a commitment problem either taking up long term membership or being committed for their workout regimen.
The vision was very clear from day 1 to give the membership at very affordable cost, but increase in competition across Bangalore towards the health industry started off with problems such as confusion & comparison. First the confusion over the infrastructure. Infrastructure is to mean the equipment and the space Fitness Ace provides to our members with top-class instructors. The Fitness Ace clubs is min of 10000 sft and all our equipment are ergonomically the best gym equipment one can find around the globe. But comparison started off with a gym not even close to our setup and all of sudden they felt that we are expensive. At this particular time we were charging annual membership alike any other health clubs.
This is the time I had to think differently and solve the problem of affordability.
The “Pay As You Gym” app called “NineGyms” was developed exclusively for Fitness Ace.
The Problems the App solves are:-
Book session for less than Rs 100/-
Book certified instructor over the app.
No long term commitments.
Pay for what one uses.
Book any time group classes (Zumba, Yoga, HIIT etc) for friends and family.
Access is easy.
With these features, the passive gym goers started accessing gym with no fear of long term commitment either financially or for not being regular.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before this startup?
By profession I am a Civil engineer with a master degree from England. 2013 started of my job as an engineer for various interior projects, warehouse projects and apartment construction. I have experience of approximately 2 lakh Sft of construction under my belt.
The profession gave me good income but not satisfaction. As Sports was a part in me from childhood won various athletic and games competition and a major injury on a track event took me away from what i loved doing the most. This love and passion changed my professional civil engineer to become an entrepreneur. Now Fitness Ace is in 3 Location such as RT Nagar, New BEL Road and World Trade Centre, Bangalore.
Year 2018 Fitness Ace was awarded “Grandeur Gym India” By FEA (Fitness Excellence Awards)
Year 2019 Fitness Ace was awarded “Premium Gym India” By FEA (Fitness Excellence Awards) An initiative by FitEx, Messe Frankfurt.
Where is your startup based out of? Why do you think that is the best place for you?
The startup is based in Bangalore. I would not really say this model is only best suited for Bangalore. The Health factor is very important to all, as these days we notice the stress, work pressure and various other factors are becoming a major issue on ones health and wellness. The health clubs can be set up at the various location in India and with “pay as you gym” model, the perception of the complicated unorganised health industry can be simplified as we have proven results.
As a startup founder, what are you paranoid about? What keeps you awake at night?
As a start-up founder for the idea of “pay as you gym” and having three health clubs for the experiment, the common problem for all startups is to reach out to people which is “Marketing”. The marketing plays a key role to have a successful story, off course social media has solved these issue to a certain extent but I am paranoid about the reach this should have been otherwise.
How hard is it to have a work-life balance as a startup founder and how do you manage it?
If one loves what they do, I don’t think it’s hard on anybody to balance work life. The challenges what the market place or the team throws at you, is what makes it more interesting. I love challenges and this makes me feel 24 hours in a day is less.
Have you raised funding? If yes, then we would like to know the details. If no then please tell us if you are looking to raise.
We have not raised any funding yet. Yes we are looking to raise funds and this can be split in 2 ways
The Health Club
There is lot technology can solve to simplify the bookings and the access control which we have already taken care of. The next phase of technology development is towards AI training to all members use the app.
The revenue starts flowing in once we have Health clubs set across Bangalore and then to other cities in India using “pay as you use” concept. As this concept has never been started in India.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? Why do they have that? What’s the reality?
The misconception is about the way gym industry functions. People like me have opened up several gyms across India to facilitate one or the other health programme to the society. People take in membership thinking they would be trained 1 on 1 with the certified faculty, but they don’t understand the membership is charged to use the facility and not faculty. This is where people need to be educated initially before taking the membership. This is focused and explained well before they sign in the membership contracts at Fitness Ace. This is the biggest problem all gym owners face. The app basically solves this problem too. We provide a separate platform to the trainers to register themselves and the users basically gets to chat and fix the appointments all by themselves, where the gym does not get involved in their negotiations or transactions. Fitness Ace is just infrastructure provider and opens door too any kind of user as well as trainer to access our clubs through the app.
What gets you excited about this company?
There is so much to deliver in the Health club platform and this is just the start. I have started running at speed of 3 to 4 on the treadmill and i need to reach speed 15 as quickly as possible without injuries. Injuries mean to say development and deliver the required product to the society without failing in between.
Tell us how a day in your life looks like? Your schedule for a day right from the time you get up till you hit the bed at night.
My day starts by 5am with a quick shower and prayer. The work starts as i start visiting my health clubs at different location to know how efficient my team performs and also constantly interact with members to know problems they face. I spend a lot of time with the team, handling different departments in my clubs because that’s when the owner gets into their shoes and solve the problems they face in their respective departments. My job is to bring positivity in my team and constant motivation. I never miss my workout in a day, this basically is for my health but indirectly helps me observe the practicality of my teams performance.
The Tech team is where i again spend most of my time as one needs to explain the simple ways to deliver the required product. I basically play a spilt personalty role as i need to think like an owner, a user, a trainer and as a receptionist. This gives me various ideas to the prevailing problems and this input to the team is what takes most of my time in a day till 11pm and off to sleep.
Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
I strongly believe in fresh talent than an experienced person. Fresh talent are the people who can deliver things when they are asked too. I hand pick each of them with just a 5 min interview and give them 15 days time to deliver few things and constantly observe if they love the job assigned, if so they are my team. Once they are in the team then it’s the exiting team members who takes them forward other than any 1 in particularly appointed as a training team head and wasting time on training.
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