After months of home work out as gyms had to shut down due to coronavirus-led lockdown, Indians are heading to the gyms but mostly to train with their personal trainers and women are still shying away.
At Gold's Gym, a gym chain which has more than 150 clubs in 25 Indian states, the male to female ratio post reopening of gyms has come down to 25 percent female and 75 percent male from 40 percent female to 60 percent male in the pre-COVID-19 period.
"Women ratio has gone down. They are the ones who are wary. Women between the age of 35-45, who are mothers, have not yet come to the gyms," Shraddha Sheth, VP-marketing, sales and operations, Gold's Gym India, told Moneycontrol.
So, overall the footfalls in Gold's Gym clubs are still around 20 to 25 people in an hour which during pre-COVID-19 period was 80 to 85 people. However, Sheth said that from the initial days of reopening the footfalls have gone up by 50 percent.
In terms of business, the company has seen 20 percent growth in revenue after reopening. "I wouldn't say there is a sharp spike but the growth is encouraging and this I am talking about Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru whereas in small cities the revenue has doubled. Growth in members is higher in places like Jabalpur, Dibrugarh, Rajahmundry, Jalgaon," she said.
Another gym called Waves Gym in Mumbai which will complete 17 years in January this year has seen similar trends in terms of footfalls. While Waves Gym is a boutique setup, the story is no different than Gold's Gym.
Owner of Waves Gym, Deepak Lavani said that the fitness industry has seen the most challenging times during lockdown. "We used to have 400 to 500 people in a day during pre-COVID-19 and that dropped to 40 to 50 people after reopening." He added that even November and December was challenging and the only uptick he saw was in January.
The personal touch
Talking about people working out at home, Sheth said that there are people who have got comfortable in their homes and this is why around 10 percent of Gold's Gym trainers are taking fitness classes at home.
"Each of our trainers works for eight hours in a day. So, they spend an hour per client and they are spending one hour of that day at home providing personal training to support members," said Sheth.
Sheth said that even in the gyms many people are coming to work with their trainers.
Even Waves Gym is gaining traction for its personal training setup. "We have a separate floor for personal training which is not common in most gyms. So, a member with his/her personal trainer has a dedicated place and this is what people are preferring the most in the current times," said Lavani .
The big picture
Giving an overall picture of the gym industry, Jayam Vora, Co-founder and COO, Fitternity, a gym aggregator said that steps like moving to online pre-bookings, sanitising resulted in gyms getting 20 percent of their existing members. "New usage was around five to 10 percent in the first few weeks after reopening. Now, that has steadily gone up. From a revenue point of view, November-December sales at an average was around 30 to 35 percent of pre-COVID-19. Between January-March gyms need to get back to 60 percent of pre-COVID-19."
Online fitness training is here to stay
While people have started going to the gyms, there are many who still prefer taking online fitness classes.
Vora said that while virtual fitness will not be as impactful as it was during the lockdown period, it is here to stay. "Virtual fitness has added more users to the overall gym industry. For Fitternity, the online segment contributes 35 percent whereas 65 percent business comes from the retail segment," he said.
As for Gold' Gym, Sheth said that online has become a vertical for them.
"During lockdown, we launched Gold's Gym app which has a DIY (Do it Yourself) workout which was free in the lockdown period. Now, after gyms have reopened our services from November 1 has become paid. We thought that online fitness classes would be temporary but this demand continues," she said.
Cost of an online fitness class varies from Rs 400 which goes up to Rs 20,000.
Still many challenges
While gyms are seeing some recovery, Vora pointed out challenges gym owners continue to face.
"Indians buy long-term membership unlike recurring monthly membership opted by people internationally. Now, what has happened is people are not sure how things will shape up for them for the longer period due to Coronavirus situation and as a derivative of that the number of people committing to long-term memberships as compared to short-term has drastically changed. Gyms that used to get the extra padding of cash flow thanks to yearly membership that is not happening currently," he said.
Vora added that another challenge is that while cost towards safety has increased by eight to 15 percent, users are not paying extra cost.
All these challenges have led to closure of around 15 percent of gyms that used to work with Fitternity. "It is not just small gyms even branded gyms have shut down," said Vora.
Despite these challenges Grand Slam Fitness, a chain of fitness stores is launching three new gyms this year.
"First two gyms are coming up in February and the third one is coming up in April. My model is to go to tier II cities first. So, the first two gyms are in Patna and Jhansi and the third is in Nanded," said Prateek Sood, Director, Grand Slam Fitness.
Expecting a good 2021
Along with new gyms coming up, the gym industry is confident about strong revival in 2021.
"October 2021 is when gyms would reach pre-COVID-19 revenue. From a fitness industry point of view, we feel that recovery is going to surpass pre-COVID-19 level maybe because fitness has become more important than ever. By March 2022, it is estimated that the gym industry would be 1.5 times more than what it was pre-COVID-19," said Vora.