Welcome to the world of fitness at your fingertips….writes Shaifali Agrawal
Have you been slogging to lose kilos but to no avail and are looking for a health expert? Welcome to the world of fitness apps, wristbands and online services that are helping people achieve health goals straight from the comfort of their homes.
It is estimated that “consumers spent more than $200 billion globally in 2014 on health and fitness services”, according to Woody Scal, chief revenue officer of Fitbit Inc, the global leader in the health and fitness market.
And the trend is fast catching up with fitness enthusiasts in India.
“People aspire to improve their health and fitness. At the same time, high rates of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cancer are driving individuals to look for innovative ways to gain a fitter body in India,” Scal told this reporter in an email.
But with more and more gyms and fitness centres being opened in cities across the country, do we really need fitness on the go?
“Unfortunately, not even 20 percent of these gyms have certified trainers,” said Sri Lakshmi, a strength and conditioning coach at HealthifyMe, an online website and mobile app that gives access to personal trainers and customised plans.
With Fitbit and Jawbone coming to India, most of the global players in fitness wearables are making a beeline to enter the wearable health segment.
“A recent Accenture’s Digital Consumer Tech Survey found that Indian consumers were most interested in buying fitness monitors (80 percent) and smartwatches (76 percent); so we believe this will be a strong market,” noted Scal on India being a viable market in this category.
TimeX, which is the leading brand for smartwatches globally, have also forged into the health category in the country, with the introduction of two activity trackers – Ironman Move x20 and Ironman Run x20 GPS (Global Positioning System).
“Though the Indian market is at a nascent stage as compared to the west, the entry of several brands blended with the advent of wearable technology is making this vertical very promising,” noted Anupam Mathur, head (sales and marketing), Timex Group India.
The integration of digital technology with health devices have led to many Indian fitness apps and online startups cropping up.
SmartRX, a startup which has established its presence in the US, facilitates remote monitoring and offers real-time audio video interaction with health specialists.
“This convergence of digital and healthcare has resulted in wearables that track parameters such as heart rate and movement through built-in sensors that provide insights into the wearer’s health,” emphasised Mathur.
Depending on the device, one can track movements, workouts, distance, speeds, calories burned, heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature and the like.
Yu, a joint venture between Micromax and Cyanogen, has partnered with HealthifyMe.
Once HealthifyMe clients enter the data recorded through YuFit band, the app automatically calculates their BMI (body mass index).
“BMI, in most cases, is a good way to determine whether one is prone to lifestyle diseases in the future. Body fat percentage (BFP) is a better indicator,” Lakshmi said.
HealthifyMe’s partnership with various medical institutions such as Medanta, Apollo and Manipal Hospital has been proven effective in treating and preventing clinical obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems and other lifestyle diseases.
HealthifyMe has a current user base of more than 180,000 customers in India.
According to Mathur, “our customers are fitness enthusiasts and athletes who demand a confluence of style and technology. These customers in the age group of 18-34 are looking for an all in one gadget that is reliable and sports credible technology.”
“The winning formula will be when the smartphone starts acting as your personal coach, your personal nutritionist and your personal doctor,” Lakshmi added.