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Pune Inc: Homegrown fitness app to use $11.5 million funding to go global, generate jobs

Fittr plans to become a one-stop fitness platform as India's fitness app market witnesses high growth in the post-Covid world.

(from left) Rohit Chattopadhyay (Co-founder), Bala Krishna Reddy (Co-founder), Jitendra Chouksey (founder), Sunil Shetty (Strategic Investor), Sonal Singh (Co-founder) and Jyoti Dabas (Co-founder)

Operating out of Viman Nagar in Pune, Fittr has become one of India’s largest fitness apps, with the latest statistics showing more than 40 lakh members across the country as well as cities in the US, Canada and Australia, among others.

With a Series A funding of $11.5 million from September 2021, Fittr plans to increase its global presence and boost its platform by offering sports nutrition, sports fitness and emotional wellbeing, paving the way for it to become a one-stop fitness platform. The organisation, which has more than 650 coaches, is looking to raise the number to more than 1,000 in 12-18 months. “Our workforce will be increasingly diversified to fit with our vision of taking fitness and health to maximum people,” says Jyoti Dabas, Co-founder Fittr & CEO INFS.

India’s fitness app market is estimated to grow to $1,532.82 million by 2027, according to media agency 360i. Data analytics company App Annie found that 71,000 new fitness and health apps were launched in 2020, 13 per cent more than the year before. The lockdown — with gyms closed, people closeted in homes and nursing anxiety about health and fitness — could be a possible explanation for people’s preference for online fitness platforms during the peak of Covid-19. Now, as the pandemic has eased and the recovery phase has begun — gyms, parks and clubs are open — how will companies such as Fiitr adapt?

“When we started the company, we aimed to change millions of lives because it was said that 50 million people would be diabetic in India by 2030. Today, that number has been revised to 98 million. We are still at it trying to reach out to people with the correct information about nutrition and fitness, emphasising that these do not mean deprivation or hardship. If other apps are successfully engaging people every day in fitness, we feel that it is for the best. There is a large enough market for everyone to come and play and create awareness. Fitness is still a nascent market,” says Dabas.

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Unlike gyms and coaches who prescribe extreme diets and exercise regimens, Fittr’s strong point is that it offers “quantified nutrition”, where a person eats their favourite food but in regulated quantities. The belief is that, for people with lifestyle-related health issues, even a small change in habits results in substantial health benefits. The app provides home workout videos, information backed by science to fight disinformation as well as guidance from fitness professionals certified by the Institute of Nutrition & Fitness Sciences. The app is also community-based, ensuring that a person on their fitness journey is not struggling alone.

“When you are with people who think in a certain way, it influences you. We need the fitness-thinking community to grow. Nobody sees a fit person as an outcast but a healthy lifestyle needs to be normalised,” says Dabas. “We are seeing the change in the community but, In India, a sea change is required,” she adds.

The business model has worked since the time Fittr began as a community of 10-12 people and a few coaches to register a 48 per cent growth over the past year and generate 14 million dollars in FY22. “This proves that digital fitness is increasing. Covid has made people realise the importance of getting fit and that is where we came in for them. People are conscious of their health and there is great potential in the fitness industry going forward,” says Dabas.

Dabas adds that Pune remains one of their strongest bases. Over the last year, the city accounts for around 8 per cent of their clients. “It is the city of our birth, so we are emotionally attached to it. There are a lot of community initiatives going on and we are entrenched in the city,” says Dabas.

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