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Jul, 10 2012

Myriad ‘Asanas’ of Making money

To flaunt that size zero figure or for shaping your six-pack abs or rejuvenating through holistic healing, either by taking spa therapies or practising yoga, all have become a part of one's healthy lifestyle. Now, India's wellness and fitness industry is

GROWING already at a double-digit rate, India's fitness and wellness industry is now slated to take robust strides and multiply its count in the coming years. Not only that, the industry is also opening up new boulevards for franchisees to make the most of it. The key indicators that have been responsible for the industry's growth have been the changing outlook of the middle class in terms of splurging a few bucks on fitness equipment, spending time working out at a gym or performing aerobics to keep oneself fit and stress free. Also, realising the potential in the Indian fitness market, foreign fitness and wellness brands are making a beeline for the Indian market. Franchisors and established brands in the fitness and wellness industry are making nationwide expansion bids by opening exclusive fitness clubs or spas in metros and Tier II and III cities as well.

Concept’s beauty

Take a look further at the three key segments of India’s overall fitness and wellness industry.

Fitness industry

India’s fitness industry is still waiting to be explored to its maximum. The newest trend to hit India's fitness industry is the women's only gym segment that's stepping up the ladder of success. This trend was pushed by Contours International in the beginning, followed by Leena Mogre's Fitness, Portugal's women's only gym VivaFit and USA’s Curves International. Other brands that promote the league of fitness market includes Gold’s Gym, Fitness First, Ozone Gym & Spa, Enigma Fitness, Fitness One, Snap Fitness, Talwalkars, Mickey Mehta's 360 gym centres, V3 Fitness and LesMills India. Considering the rage for fitness among the youth, Indian cricket team's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni also made his maiden entry into the world of commercial fitness by launching a chain of gyms under the label SportsFit World Pvt Ltd. VLCC's slimming centres have been the largest player in the slimming industry.

Currently, the fitness industry is projected to be growing at over 30 per cent. It's the fastest- growing segment in the overall wellness market comprising fitness gyms, spas and fitness equipment used at homes and slimming centres. The credit to the industry's growth also goes to franchising that has made it easy for franchisors to scale up operations by partnering with franchisees. Other reasons that have given impetus to this fitness industry have been the prevalence of acute health problems (diabetes, cardiac arrests, obesity, stress and depression among the youth) and people's changing perception towards leading a healthy lifestyle. This is the reason why gyms are experiencing vigorous growth rates. But India's fitness industry is much more under-penetrated as compared to the developed countries of the world. People are slowly and steadily waking up from their 'inactive zones' to make working out at a gym a part of their daily lives. A growing population, increase in disposable incomes and a large proportion of youngsters in the population who are fitness conscious, the role of media in disseminating fitness-related information and an awareness for a fit and healthy body created by Bollywood stars and sports icons have all played their role in the growth of the fitness industry.

Commenting on the industry's market size, Naveen Kandhari, Managing Director, Ozone Fitness n Spa, says: “The fitness industry in India is witnessing an upward trend in growth; the estimated total fitness market size may be worth about Rs 2,500 crore and it is growing at about 30 per cent year-on-year. In tune with the development of Indian economy, the size of the disposable income of Indians has also increased the urge of Indians to stay fit and look beautiful, which is primarily the main driving force for development of fitness industry in India.”

Spas

A fast-paced and stressful life has started getting on everyone's nerves. To deal with this situation Indians are gradually waking up to treat themselves by going for revitalising spa treatments and therapies. This has resulted in an unprecedented growth in business opportunities for those actively involved in providing therapeutic spa services. Wellness has become a new catchphrase, as many beauty salons, gyms and hotels have diversified their portfolios and incorporated spa-related services or have tied up with spa chains so as to earn fast bucks. The industry is projected to witness an exponential growth. Many spa brands, such as Birla Kerala Vaidyashala, Mystic Spa, Four Fountain Spa, Seven Seas Spa and Aura Thai Spa, have also been able to find their feet in franchising.

On the other hand, Anurag Kedia, Director, Four Fountain Spa, opines: “Due to rapid urbanisation and changes in lifestyle, stress levels in modern society are increasing day by day. As a result, a growing number of consumers are availing the benefits of spa services to keep them stress-free. This presents an exciting opportunity in the world of spas, which is growing by 35-40 per cent every year.”

Yoga

Yoga has been in India since long, but it has not hogged the limelight so far. Franchising has provided multiple business opportunities for franchisees of brands dealing with yoga to rake in the money, till now inconceivable in this sector.

When it comes to wellness, people in India are increasingly adopting the holistic way. In the yoga industry, Yo Fi Holistic Health and Wellness Studio and Academy, an initiative of Chennai's Naturals Spa & Salons, mainly promotes wellness, physically and spiritually, through eastern art forms, such as Yoga, Qigong, Taichi and Ayurveda. Yo Fi is partnering with Chinese universities to establish state-of-the-art Yo Fi yoga studios across China. Under a cultural exchange programme, Yo Fi is in the process of establishing an advanced Tai Chi and traditional Chinese medicine academy in India. For this, Naturals is gearing up to launch the first state-of-the-art Yo Fi Studio in Chennai soon.

Healthy franchise model

Franchising has always been the preferred business route for expansion. For taking up the franchise of Leena Mogre's Gym, a franchisee gets the option to go either for a small or big format. The investment range starts from Rs 1.5 crore and it goes up to Rs 3 crore and the area ranges between 3,000 sq ft and 8,000 sq ft. In the case of Ozone Gym & Spa's franchise, a franchisee needs to investment between Rs 2.50 crore and Rs 3 crore for 6,000-10,000 sq ft. For opening Yo Fi fitness and spa, a franchisee requires a capital of Rs 33 lakh for 1,500- 2,000 sq ft of space.

Diet chart for franchise growth

When it comes to running a franchised outlet, the role of training is imperative. Says Kandhari: “We support our franchisees by providing them assistance in the identification of the right franchise location, architect appointment, staff recruitment and training, equipment procurement, standard operating procedures, pre-launch sales, club launch assistance and in post-launch sales assistance, etc.”

Snap Fitness extends its support to franchisees by aiding them in finalising the gym location, specifications related to designs, purchasing equipment, staff recruitment and training, pre-launch and promotional activities.

Testing times

A major barrier that deters the fitness and wellness sector from increasing its reach is the paucity of skilled fitness trainers, dieticians and therapists. Owing to ineffective monitoring and dearth of standardised operations at the franchised premises, the industry is finding it difficult to earn more revenues. “One of the biggest challenges Yo Fi had to face was how to roping in the right manpower to realise this unique concept. To address this issue, Yo Fi has joined hands with Chinese universities and brings the best of teachers to train the staff at the Yo Fi academy,” says Dr Gowthaman, Executive Director at Yo Fi. The company also believes in partnering with strong local players with a good management record for entering new areas. Since the wellness business is booming in India, Yo Fi is looking for like-minded partners to expand their reach.

Expand via franchising for wealth and wellness

As of now, Leena Mogre's Fitness aspires for presence in all Tier I and II cities in the first place, and would then look at possibilities lying elsewhere.

About their growth plans, Kandhari says: “We have plans to open 10 franchise outlets by the end of current financial year.”

On expanding their brand, Yo Fi's Executive Director Dr Gowthaman says: “Yo Fi has plans to expand rapidly in India and overseas. By the end of this year, Yo Fi is planning to set up 10 centres in India and 10 outside India.”

Currently, Ozone Gym & Spa operates a mix of 10 outlets. Speaking about their business model, Dr Vikram B.M, Managing Director & CEO, Snap Fitness India, says: “It's a scalable model which can fit in Tier I, II and III cities. A single city can have multiple locations as it is a neighborhood gym with minimal space requirement.” By the year end, they will be opening 27 fitness clubs. They are also aiming to launch 250 clubs in three years.

Four Fountain Spa is planning to add 15 franchisees by the end of this financial year. About their expansion plans, Kedia says: “In the next two years, we plan to expand aggressively through the franchisee-owned, franchisee-operated route, both in our current cities as well as in new cities (Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata). In five years, we will be present at 300 locations in top 20 cities of India.”

The way forward

Yo Fi strongly believes that the future lies in holistic and personalised approach to wellness. Fitness is regarded as a sunrise industry with a 30 per cent year- on-year growth. India's wellness and fitness industry is expected to witness a dynamic development, as consumers shift their attitude towards leading a healthy life, coupled with increasing incomes, health consciousness created by the media and access to new players, both homegrown and international, who bring new means of ensuring fitness, health and wellness on people's doorsteps. The industry is, as a result, currently undergoing a phase of consolidation as well as diversification into other segments so as to gain a larger share of the market's pie.

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