Indians up fitness game ward off corona blues and also boost industry
Nikita Verma sweats it out in her online pilates class, her mother swears by her early morning yoga session and her foodie father and brother can be seen burning calories as they pedal their way through the streets at night on their new bikes.
The Verma family are among the new fitness enthusiasts who are willing to invest time, energy and money to be at the top of their health game to ward off COVID-19.
Driving the fitness craze, people everywhere are biking, walking, jogging, counting kilometres on treadmills, lifting weights and stretching in search of better immunity and good health as a pandemic rages through the country. Some are looking to up their fitness game, others are new to it but eager to catch up.
For my family, and especially me, it literally took us this pandemic to realise the importance of health and staying fit. No one in my family was following any sort of health regimen before, and now everyone has got themselves doing one activity at least.- Nikita Verma.
“I won’t lie. I didn’t enjoy doing it during the initial days. But now, after doing it for some months, I can say we have gotten used to it. I hope it stays the same in future also — when there is no fear of the coronavirus,” the Jammu-based teacher added.
With gyms shut for the longest time — now open in some parts of the country since August 5 — people went all out (online) shopping to give their fitness regimen a kickstart.
From ready-to-drink protein shakes and yoga mats to treadmills and dumbbells, the pandemic-prompted tribe of health-conscious Indians helped drive the profit margins of fitness equipment companies at a time many businesses were going south.
Individuals have been daily visiting our showroom to purchase equipment that will make their fitness regime at home more exciting. If one talks about the rise in number then yes, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the home gym equipment category. We’ve been receiving a lot of enquiries via calls or on our social media handles about treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, multi-gym etc.- Prateek Sood, director, Grand Slam Fitness, a premium fitness equipment company.
The demand for fitness equipment is breaking records online too.
According to e-commerce giant Flipkart, fitness products have seen close to “2x growth” compared to the pre-lockdown period with top searched products being yoga mats, cycles, treadmill, badminton racquets, cricket bats, support equipment and dumbbells.
“Home gym kits at Flipkart have seen a spike. In addition, products such as resistance tubes, used for muscle grips and exercises, have seen growing demand on the platform, showcasing an increased affinity towards working out at home.
“Consumers across Hyderabad, New Delhi, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Patna, Ernakulam and Lucknow appear to be keen to shop for fitness accessories and equipment,” a company spokesperson told PTI.
The star-seller in the entire range is the not-so-humble bicycle, once called the poor man’s vehicle and now a key accessory for fitness enthusiasts. The new-found love for bicycles, which can begin at a few thousand rupees and go all the way to Rs 35,000, is unprecedented, evident from the fact that there is an acute shortage of cycles across the country.
While Hero Cycles, touted to be the largest cycle manufacturer by volume in the world, registered an “unprecedented spike” in sales over the last three months, Scott India, a premium bicycle brand, saw a “3X growth” in demand over the pre-COVID period.
“Before COVID, the premium and super-premium category stood at 35,000 units. Post-COVID, we’ve seen a steep 40 per cent increase, And over the next 12 months, we project it to increase by 100 per cent, said Jaymin Shah, country manager, SCOTT Sports India.
“We’ve also seen 100 per cent growth in online sales on Sportnetwork.in, not only for bicycles but also for other ancillary products like apparel, helmets, tools, and equipment,” he added.
The brand also claims to have received “around 65 new dealership” requests since the lockdown lifted. An estimated “50 per cent” are from tier two and three cities.
Nitin Walecha, businessman and bicycle enthusiast from Chandigarh, said the sudden obsession for cycles is also because they have become status symbols.
“Owning a bicycle today is a status symbol, just like it was the case — or is — with cars. They are expensive and modern, look swanky and have advance features like gears, hydraulic disc brakes, electric and what not. Besides, most people rode bicycles in their childhood and have a sense of belonging with it, unlike other fitness equipment available in the market,” he noted.
That said, many people, though equally eager to stay fit and healthy, are also scared to step out for fear of contracting the infection or amid the pandemic or spend a bomb on some new untried equipment during the financial crunch.
Lending a helping hand are fitness apps like Fittr, cure.fit, Home Workout and others, which with features like BMR (basal metabolic rate) analysis, health tips, work out videos or weekly diet planner are helping people achieve their health goals.
The daily home workout live sessions on our app and Facebook page include Yoga and Meditation, HIIT, Bodyweight Workouts, Resistance Band Workouts, Calisthenics, etc. These are extremely popular with our community with views for each session reaching the thousands.- Jitendra Chouksey, founder and CEO of FITTR.
The app, which has over 2.5 lakh active users, saw a nearly “20 per cent uptake” in during the first two weeks of the lockdown itself.
“Humans are creatures of habit. It is likely that some people who have started exercising and eating right will revert to their old ways once the lockdown is lifted and life returns to normal. FITTR is doing its best to help people understand the importance of fitness and find sustainable ways to continue their fitness journeys,” he added. PTI MG MIN