Long working hours from home, the absence of an office setup, and lack of physical activity because of the challenges posed by Covid-19 are weighing on people’s health and employers are worried. In an effort to ensure employee wellbeing, many are now encouraging staff to enrol for fitness classes at company expense.
While fitness companies have been offering virtual sessions in cities that are under lockdown or where gyms have still not been allowed to open, in cities such as Bengaluru and Hyderabad, employees have the option of going to the gym.
With the number of companies offering free fitness classes to employees rising over the last few months, corporate spends on wellness over the last few months have increased. And that surge is helping gym owners and fitness experts significantly during a very challenging time for their business.
Better sales conversions
“Earlier when we used to reach out, four out of 10 companies had the inclination and had already assigned budgets towards fitness and wellness services. But post-COVID-19, nine out of 10 companies have increased budgets or allocated budgets to spend on fitness and wellness. For global companies, it is a mandate. Now, even Indian companies are doing the same,” said Jayam Vora, Co-Founder of Fitternity, a gym aggregator.
Fitternity has 10,000 gyms and studios on its platform across 30 cities in India. The company is also offering over 2,000 virtual fitness trainers. “Inbound enquiries have seen a 300 percent increase and the conversion rate is 4x. So, our sales cycle, which used to take 3 to 4 months for conversion earlier, now takes 15 days to maximum one month,” he added.
Companies such as Adobe, IndiGo Airlines, Tata Starbucks, Amazon, Accenture and Ernst & Young, among others, have partnered with Fitternity to offer fitness classes to their employees. Live classes are the most preferred, with 50 to as many as 200 employees joining each session. “Over 100 companies have partnered with us. And from January to the new financial year, a lot of these companies will put out large budgets towards this category,” said Vora.
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Gopal Gera, who runs Goodlife Fitness centre in Kalyan Nagar and Snap Fitness in Basvangudi in Bengaluru, said: “In Bengaluru, IT companies and banking and financial services are two big categories. And what we can look for is pharma and institutional led companies in the coming months.”
Raj Moveza, who runs 12 gyms called Plej in Bengaluru, and conducts online fitness classes across India, including in Gujarat, Kolkata and Vizag, said that 95 percent of his corporate clients are from IT companies.
Moveza said in the pre-COVID period, getting corporate clients was not an easy task but with companies becoming aware of the importance of employee fitness, more corporates are coming on-board. He added that recently he was approached by IBM for a fitness seminar, an indication that companies are taking the fitness of their employees more seriously than ever.
Concurring with Moveza, Gera, said that “there was some push on the corporate side due to PM Narendra Modi’s Fit India movement in the pre-COVID days, but now the corporate wellness segment has picked up the pace and it will scale new heights because it has become a necessity.”
“From the employer spending on employees perspective, we are seeing the maximum spend going up to a crore for around 10,000 to 25,000 employees. Globally, we have seen that a very large portion of fitness spends has happened through corporate spends,” said Vora.
Gera added that in Bengaluru, where gyms have reopened, employees coming to gyms are not only increasing footfalls but also helping build consumer confidence.
Vora said that companies have started offering hybrid models — both online and offline sessions — to employees in Bengaluru and Hyderabad, and he expects the hybrid model to continue until January next year.
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While the number of companies spending on fitness has more than doubled in the current time, Vora said that for virtual classes, companies end up paying 60 percent of what they pay for physical classes. But the spend has gone up two to three times. Hence, he thinks that there is a lot of potential in this segment.
As Moveza explained, many employees go beyond what their companies offer. “We have a lot of clients who have continued even after their companies stopped spending on fitness.”