A few years ago, Devi Prasad Biswal joined a gym. His housemate at the time wasn’t nearly as excited about the prospect but ended up tagging along out of curiosity and sheer positive peer pressure.
“My flatmate was in India for the next three months,” Devi explains. “He wanted to tag along, get in shape before he traveled.”
It was 75 percent of what Devi was paying for 25 percent of the time.
Devi was paying an annual fee of US$235 for his gym membership. When he and his flatmate inquired about prices for a three-month stay, the amount came back – US$177, which was 75 percent of what Devi was paying, despite the fact that his housemate would only be around for 25 percent of the time.
He poked around and confirmed what he already knew – the majority of the interest (as much as 80 percent) in gyms was like that of his flatmate’s: casual. Gyms were afraid of giving lower rates because they wanted to be able to pay for their facilities, which they would have to provide all year, whether people were coming to the gym or not.
Lucky for people like Devi’s housemate, Devi was also an aspiring entrepreneur. He approached Avijeet Alagathi, his colleague from Goldman Sachs, with the idea of an app that would allow people to book and pay for gyms by individual session. That way, they’d save money and perhaps be more inclined to work out.
BYG caters to people of all ages who aren’t necessarily ready to litter Instagram with their #fitspiration progress, but who may occasionally want to venture off the couch or from behind their computers onto a treadmill.
Of course, BYG hopes to turn that “occasionally” into an “often.” The founders knew their work was cut out for them. “Motivation is probably the biggest problem that exists,” Devi tells Tech in Asia. Keeping people coming back to gyms after the first three months is hard. Keeping them coming back after a year is nearly impossible.
Motivation is probably the biggest problem that exists.
Motivation was also a problem for fitness centers – it took some serious convincing to get them to agree to charge session-by-session fees. Reducing prices tends to bring in more customers, and customers – like Devi’s flatmate – tend to follow other customers into the gym. The gyms BYG spoke to were afraid of taking the plunge, though – they needed convincing that people wanted to work out but shied away from long-term commitments.
The first 100 gyms were the hardest. Today, the app has 3,000 fitness centers registered.
Through the startup’s Workout Now program, users pay a session fee – starting at US$0.75 per session – to book at one of BYG’s workout centers. BYG keeps 15 to 35 percent, with an average cut of just under 20 percent. If users drop off from their established attendance, BYG sends push notifications to help them get back on track.
BYG users can book gyms or specialty classes (like yoga), but they can also upload their fitness information into the app to keep track of their numbers – weight, skeletal muscle index, fat, and body mass index (BMI).
Present in five cities – Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi NCR, and Bhubaneshwar – the app currently has 27,000 monthly active users. For those who don’t want to tie themselves down to one city, BYG offers a national pass – access to all BYG gyms with workouts that cost less than US$3.70 – for US$22 per month (the customer pays the difference if the workout costs more). Classic passes cost US$16 per month – valid for workouts that cost up to US$2.20 – and premium passes cost US$177 – valid for workouts that cost up to US$9.50 – for three months.
BYG joins the league of numerous apps trying to organize sports, fitness, and wellness clubs in India. For a flat fee of US$15, FitPass gives people access to over 10,000 gyms all over the country, including specialty classes like yoga and crossfit. BookMySports, Playo, GoSporto, and Athletto help amateur sports players book venues and find teammates.
To help distinguish itself, BYG’s team of 45 hopes to spend the year reaching 70,000 customers and to develop a better fitness tracking dashboard. Ideally, people will also be able to find out where their friends are working out to increase motivation.
Converted from Indian rupees. US$1 = INR 67.83
This post The gym booking app for those who want to be fit but won’t commit appeared first on Tech in Asia.