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Gyms add more skills

As consumers look for more than basic cardio and weights services, India's gyms are offering value-added services to enhance their relevance and appeal, writes Rachit Vats.

business Updated: Oct 28, 2012 23:28 IST
Rachit Vats

Riddhi Goradia started gymming a year ago to curb her weight but soon got bored of the routine of cardio, abs and weights exercises.

She recently discovered a more interesting way to achieve her target. She now grooves to music and performs various functional exercises such as aerobics, zumba, kickboxing, boot camp and power moves at a new fitness centre.

"It gets boring at a regular gym where you repeat the same exercises daily. My motivation has gone up now that I follow multiple workout techniques. The results too are better and faster," said Goradia.

Her costs too, she said, are more pocket-friendly.

As the important gymming segment in the overall beauty and wellness category matures in urban India, especially in the larger cities, the traditional workout techniques that attracted members in good numbers earlier, are no longer enough.

With the mushrooming of smaller gyms and fitness centres creating competition for even the big gym chains such as Talwalkars, Gold's Gym, Fitness First, Snap Fitness, Mickey Mehta's 360 gym, Barbarian Power gym and Leena Mogre's Fitness, among others, differentiation even at the top is becoming important.

With the gymming segment growing at a handsome 30%, well established celebrities are also looking at this space as a good business opportunity.

India's cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is launching his SportsFit chain of gyms. The first will come up in Gurgaon.

Next year, Bollywood's John Abraham, known for his enviably fit body, will launch the first of his chain of JA Fitness gyms in Worli, Mumbai.

With more choices available, consumers are getting more specific and expanded in their fitness and wellness requirements, triggering a growth in the kind of services gyms offer.

As gym chains grow across cities, they are extending their offerings to encompass many more than just cardio, weight and abs services, often combining a range of exercise formats for a more complete delivery. Extended spa-based services at gyms are also getting more popular.

"The definition of fitness is changing. It's not just about weight loss, as consumers now want to beat stress and stay fit in a healthy way. They need more than just a gym," said Shirish Thakkar, owner, SDWM, a Juhu-based fitness studio in Mumbai.

"A few years ago, gymming was about low prices and hardcore workouts. All of that is changing, with more open spaces in gyms, music, special workouts, spas, and other value added facilities," said Anant Gawande, whole-time director, Talwalkars.

The largest gym chain in India with 130 centres that it plans to double by 2015, Talwalkars is expanding its traditional fitness programmes to now include NuForm - advanced electric muscle stimulation training used by athletes - and Zumba in all its gyms.

"The market is expanding and there is more competition. There is a scope to do more and we'll progressively accommodate everything possible in our fitness centres, whether it is spa, Zumba or other, newer trends," said Gawande.

"For most of our clients, gyms are like their second homes and we try and cater to all their need under that roof. While we have consumers who seek value for money, they don't mind paying more for the extra facilities," said Leena Mogre, director, Leena Mogre Fitness.

This chain has six fitness centers and is looking at adding 50 more over the next three years. It has decided that besides traditional methods, all its gyms will deliver new-age functional training workouts as well.

Keeping in mind its elite clientele, it will allow customers travelling to other cities access to its gyms at those locations as well.

While gyms get upwardly mobile in metros and large cities, adding sophisticated services, the idea of gymming is catching up across smaller cities as well.

While Bhubaneshwar boasts of Tushar Multi, Core and Fit 'n Fine gyms, Ahmednagar has Vijay gym, Imphal the Ybb gym, Jalandhar the Body Zone gym, Tirupur the Fitness One gym, and Ranchi the Bodycare gym as just some examples of the spreading sway of gymming's growing importance in India's fitness and wellness consciousness.