- While gyms struggle to recover from a $10 billion shift away from in-person workouts, a crop of online fitness stars are leading us into digital transformation through virtual training programs and personal brands.
- Business Insider asked influencers-turned-entrepreneurs how they see the future of the fitness industry changing from the pandemic.
- They told us success will continue to be driven by social media and building strong communities.
- Some see fitness taking on a hybrid model of both digital and physical experiences.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Nationwide shutdowns because of the pandemic transformed the fitness industry at warp speed, hitting gyms and studios especially hard in favor of at-home workouts.
Meanwhile, a crop of online fitness stars are leading us into digital transformation through virtual training programs and personalized apps, turning their massive followings into supportive communities, health and wellness platforms, and personal brands.
Business Insider asked four top influencers-turned-entrepreneurs in the fitness space, how they see the future of the industry changing because of the pandemic.
Most agree success will continue to be driven by social media and building strong communities. Some see fitness taking on a hybrid model of both digital and physical experiences.
Some responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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In 2014, Jyoti Dabas was working in a consulting company in Gurugram but could not see herself being in the same space for the next 10 years. To venture a different path, she took a sabbatical to explore a place in the fitness industry.
She also used the time to study alternative medicine and get certified as a personal trainer and dabbled in corporate wellness as well.
“I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to do in the fitness industry and so started a personal blog, answering common questions on fitness and weight loss. And I made sure to provide science-backed solutions from research papers,” she told HerStory.
On a friend’s recommendation, she connected with Jitendra Chouksey and the team behind the Facebook group. SQUATS, now known as Fittr, a fitness startup backed by Sequoia and actor Suniel Shetty.
In 2016, Jyoti founded Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Science, an online fitness training platform. Started with a mere Rs 3,000 fee to set up the learning management system, INFS clocked sales worth Rs 10 lakh in the first month.
The INFS journey
Jyoti emphasises that she has designed the courses by combining her knowledge of both diet and exercise. Over the years, the modules have been improvised by researchers and scientists from across the world.
Today, it offers courses in two categories – foundations of fitness for self and on becoming a professional trainer, priced at Rs 20,500 and Rs 8900, respectively. It also holds workshops, webinars, and short skill-based training sessions in the price range of Rs 900 and Rs 2,500.
Jyoti says it was a conscious choice to set nearly half the price offered for similar courses in the market.
She adds that students will be able to recover their fee amount in a month by working on a freelance basis. She further claims that online trainers at INFS earn Rs 30,000 at the entry level and attain the potential to earn Rs 3 lakh per month, depending upon their talent and years of experience.
More than 90 percent of trainers at Fittr, its sister-concern, have INFS certification.
The founder seizes every opportunity to interact with the students, be it on group chat sessions and social media “to understand where they are in the journey, the roadblocks, and how we can improve them.”
“The team is expanding in size phenomenally. We are adding more courses and I have to look and make sure we are addressing the right needs in the market,” Jyoti adds.
The COVID-19 outbreak initially caused a slight dip in students enrolling for courses in March and April but it has skyrocketed in the last few months.
“It is because people thought the coronavirus will go away in a few months and now when they realise it is here to stay has led to a surge in our business.” Jyoti says increased consciousness about health and immunity and the need for skill development has worked in their favour.
It helped that the platform