A few years ago, the idea of having a virtual trainer might have been ridiculed. Here we are in 2018, subscribing to fitness mobile apps, tracking our active hours, sleeping pattern and diet. What more, it can help you find you a trainer who keeps an eye on every morsel you eat and every sweat you break.
The best part? More people are taking their workout routine into their hands, literally.
“Around 40 to 45 per cent of the people drop out of the gym within six months. Some of them feel that they can follow a routine and get results by working out in parks or at home only to rejoin in a few months. They are not able to maintain a regime by themselves,” Harish Joshi, Manager, Anytime Fitness says. Moreover, busy professionals and students are not able to devote as much time to work out as much they would like to. “The cost of personal training can range from Rs. 10,500 to Rs. 21,500 for 12 sessions, depending on the experience and credentials of the trainer,” Harish says. The steep price can also be a deterrent in getting a personal trainer.
With fitness enthusiasts going online for their diet and fitness tips, the fitness industry is ripe for a digital revolution. “A fitness app is not chosen ‘over’ a gym. Both complement each other. In fact, a large number of our users are active gym-goers. A fitness app like ours helps in building knowledge about nutrition, tracking progress comprehensively, providing access to top-of-the-line trainers and nutritionists, and connecting you with others who are on a similar fitness journey, Tushar Vashisht, Co-Founder & CEO of fitness app HealthifyMe, says.
Most apps provide users detailed analytics on a day to day basis. The number of steps walked, energy expended etc. are some of the basic offerings. Fitso, a fitness app provides regular challenges to its users to keep them engaged and also allows them to post their achievements over social media. 98Fit, another popular app, allows users to generate customized fitness and diet plans. It also offers features like sleep tracking and daily hydration tracking. It goes without saying that one will not be tempted to skip that doughnut if they know exactly how much effort it will take to burn it off. People on these apps can check how often their friends have worked out and this can lead to increased motivation. Fitness apps costs are minimal compared to gym membership and this can ensure that a lot more people can feel empowered to take charge of their fitness routine.
Importance of a coach
Achieving lofty fitness goals requires a kind of discipline and dedicated routine that is tough without a coach. With regards to the importance of training, Sparsh Jain, a trainer, says, “For effective training, one needs to be physically present in front of a coach who knows about their strengths and weaknesses. Training is not just about knowing which exercise to do. One needs to follow the correct posture and ensure imbalances are corrected.”
“My trainer is my primary mentor and going to the gym is more of a lifestyle choice as it benefits my overall fitness, health and wellness. Training doesn’t just happen on the phone as I need someone to coach me, guide me and motivate me in real life. An app can just not do it as it is superficial,” ardent gym-goer Sanchi Jain says. The issue is that certified trainers are found in upmarket gyms in metro cities. “India has an acute shortage of trained dieticians and trainers, especially in small towns.
We are trying to bridge the gap by enabling our users to tap the advice of some of the top health professionals by bringing their services on our app,” Harish says. “We have users from across 220 cities in India. Through our app, a customer from Ludhiana is able to access a top trainer in Mumbai sitting in the comfort of his home,” he adds.
A personal touch
Like any goal-oriented activity, achieving fitness milestones requires motivation. Trainers know that a one-size-fits-all approach cannot work, as people have different body types and goals. “I had knee issues and could not walk or exercise. Doctors recommended knee brace and medications. However, my trainer suggested the right exercises and training regime for muscle strengthening. I can now do all sort of exercises and wear any kind of footwear comfortably,” Sanchi says. “I have a 49-year-old client who could not even lift five kg dumbbells over his head. With proper training, he was able to do four pullups in a matter of one and a half months. It was a small achievement but meant a lot to him.
There was a polio patient who could not walk properly or squat properly. With proper training he was able to do two to three squats with his body weight,” Sparsh adds. Most fitness app companies know that the biggest advantage of the gym is the personal connection people establish with professional trainers. But they are betting on data and AI to overcome this hurdle. “Our app ensures that customers get access to the right trainers. With the app tracking their food habits and workouts, they also get highly personalised and nuanced health advice.
This is something that can get missed out even in offline interactions as this history of food intake and workouts is not available for a consultant to work with,” Tushar says. “Customers love our AI assistant, Ria and its services. Ria currently handles 80 per cent of all the queries directly, instead of passing them on to our nutritionists. Users on an average engage with the coaches by sending about 2.5 messages a day and with Ria, it is 2.9 messages a day,” he added.
Forms of working out Fitness apps have the potential to spread awareness about nutrition and exercising to a massive audience. Leading gym chains across the country are jumping on the digital bandwagon and are focusing on engaging people online.