Virtual fitness coaching: How technology is disrupting India’s fitness landscape – Times of India


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Amaresh Ojha, Business Head, RoundGlass Gympik
It is no secret that tech integrations have transformed many industries across sectors – and India’s fitness industry is no exception. While this development was already on track for the past decade, the pandemic has accelerated the march of innovation in the fitness space. This is marked by the growing popularity of virtual fitness coaching not just in India but also across the globe. 
From the rise of AI-enabled devices to digital one-on-one training, the future of connected fitness and virtual coaching appears beneficial for both fitness enthusiasts and gym owners. Let’s look at three ways in which virtual fitness coaching is revolutionizing the fitness industry:
When the viral outbreak hit the Indian shores, gym owners were forced to shut down their centers while fitness enthusiasts were confined in their homes to minimize the spread of the disease. Against this backdrop, new-age fitness centers shifted their operations online to reach out to not just their existing customers but also a new class of customers. 
On the one hand, online fitness centers saw gym members under lockdown resuming their fitness training from the confines of their homes. On the other hand, those who were previously postponing their gym membership due to busy work schedules or a lack of fitness centers in proximity to their homes, now had an opportunity to enroll in an online fitness center. The rise of virtual fitness coaching also attracted people who had started working out for the first time last year. According to a report, many people increased the frequency of working out due to the viral outbreak, be it to boost their immunity (74%) or reduce health-related risks (53%).
It is clear that the fitness and wellness space has become more accessible and, therefore, more inclusive in the past year. This prospect will become even more promising in the coming years as new technologies such as VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) make the fitness and wellness space even more intuitive and comfortable for users.
As wearables, mobile apps, and online fitness platforms become more common, AI-based virtual coaches will have a larger pool of data sets to draw from. The harnessed insights can then be leveraged to improve the program design, assess the effectiveness of training sessions, and even suggest new workout routines and nutrition plans in accordance with the unique requirements of fitness enthusiasts. Moving ahead, virtual fitness coaches will increasingly use data analytics to design more accurate and personalized workout plans across different fitness modules such as strength training, weight loss training, nutrition coaching, cardio, etc. The future of virtual fitness coaching, therefore, promises to optimize the fitness journeys of Indians by making holistic health and wellness services more accessible, personalized, and effective.
As virtual fitness coaching rapidly grows in popularity in India, gym operators will increasingly experiment with different business models to cater to the varied interests and demands of fitness enthusiasts. While many fitness enthusiasts may invest in a gym membership, only a handful of them utilize the services of their gyms due to conflicts in the timetable. As the post-pandemic workplace becomes hybrid, fitness enthusiasts may find it difficult to keep up with their fitness routines in the face of an irregular work schedule where they must divide time between working from home and from the office.
In view of this, discerning gym owners will also look to combine the best of both the physical and digital worlds to facilitate a seamless and efficient fitness journey for new-age professionals. For instance, customers may prefer to visit the brick-and-mortar gym to use the equipment. At the same time, when they are working remotely or are on a workcation, they can access a variety of virtual wellness programs offered by the fitness center, be it online yoga or Zumba sessions. Such interactions will ensure that the fitness routine of gym-goers remains unbroken irrespective of whether they visit the brick-and-mortar studios or attend virtual sessions.
As the world moves towards a cloud-based, smart society where technology integrates into daily life, virtual fitness coaching will soon become more popular among fitness aficionados in India. That this development will take place is no longer a matter of possibility but merely that of time.
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Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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