Interview: Akshay Verma, Co-founder of FITPASS, a fitness platform

Akshay Verma-Co-founder-FITPASS

An exclusive interview with Akshay Verma, Co-founder of FITPASS, a revolutionary tech and AI integrated fitness platform

Meet Akshay Verma, the visionary Co-founder of FITPASS, a pioneering fitness platform seamlessly integrating technology and AI. With a relentless passion for revolutionizing fitness, Verma has propelled FITPASS into a leading force in the industry.

His innovative approach has redefined how individuals engage with their fitness journeys, offering personalized solutions and unparalleled convenience.

Can you provide an overview of FITPASS and how it utilises technology and AI in the fitness industry?

Akshay Verma: FITPASS is India’s largest smart membership program for universal fitness and wellness co-founded by the sibling duo- Akshay Verma and Arushi Verma. Our mission is to combat inactivity by motivating individuals to integrate fitness into their everyday lives.

We are committed to customising each person’s wellness journey to promote well-being and positivity. With our #FitnessYourWay philosophy, we empower individuals to reach their fitness aspirations by addressing their specific needs and preferences.

By embracing technology and AI-driven solutions FITPASS empowers individuals to access fitness their way, on their terms, anytime, anywhere. Listed below are the technology and AI features adopted by FITPASS.

  1. Holistic Wellness Approach: Emphasises preventive measures and equips individuals with health management tools.
  2. Advanced Integration: Seamlessly combines fitness, nutrition, and wellness support using cutting-edge technology.
  3. Expansive Network: With a network spanning over 7500 gyms and fitness studios nationwide, FITPASS ensures convenient access to top-tier facilities for its users.
  4. Personalised Guidance: Powered by AI, FITPASS’ FITCOACH, ARIA, delivers tailored fitness guidance to meet individual needs and goals, optimising workout effectiveness.
  5. Nutrition Support: FITFEAST offers personalised meal plans and dietary advice to support overall wellness goals.
  6. Accessibility to Global Content: FITPASS TV grants users access to on-demand virtual workout classes and fitness content from national and international trainers, providing a diverse array of fitness options.
  7. Wearable Technology: FITPASS leverages wearable devices and health-tracking apps to enhance accountability and engagement, allowing users to monitor their activity, heart rate, and sleep.
  8. Employee Advantage: FITPASS offers a tech and AI-powered wellness management program tailored for employees, granting them the flexibility to personalise their fitness and wellness routines. This also provides real-time insights and suggestions, enabling employees to make informed choices regarding their health and lifestyle. Furthermore, employees gain unlimited access to consultations with doctors spanning over 10 specialties, health assessments, pharmacy vouchers, and various discount, etc.
  9. Emotional Wellness and Mindfulness EAP: FITPASS goes beyond physical health by prioritising emotional wellness and mindfulness through its Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), designed to support employees in managing stress, improving mental well-being, and fostering resilience.
  10. IRDAI approved: FITPASS collaborated with IRDAI to incorporate fitness and wellness components into insurance plans, this helps reduce health insurance premiums, making it a valuable addition to employee benefits packages.

What inspired you to co-found FITPASS, and what gap in the market did you aim to address?

Akshay Verma: FITPASS was born out of a shared passion for fitness and a desire to make it accessible to everyone. We recognised a gap in the market where traditional gym memberships often posed barriers to entry for many individuals due to factors like cost, location, and time constraints.

In 2015, when FITPASS was conceptualised, India was still primarily focused on solving basic needs like “Roti (Zomato), Kapda (Amazon), Makaan (” and conveyance (Ola/Uber), with fitness often being perceived as a luxury rather than a priority. Recognising an opportunity to change this perception, FITPASS was introduced to democratise access to fitness and promote a healthier lifestyle for everyone.

Our personal experiences and observations fueled the creation of FITPASS. We realised not everyone had resources or the time for lengthy gym commitments. FITPASS was conceived as a solution to these challenges, offering a flexible and affordable alternative that would cater to the diverse needs and lifestyles of individuals.

Moreover, we were driven by the desire to inspire a cultural shift where prioritising health and wellness would become the norm rather than the exception. We believed that by making fitness more convenient and enjoyable, we could encourage more people to adopt healthier habits and ultimately lead happier, more fulfilling lives.

Over the years, FITPASS has evolved into more than just a business venture for us; it has become a personal passion project. Seeing the positive impact it has had on our users’ lives, as well as the growth and empowerment of our team, has been incredibly gratifying.

Today, FITPASS boasts an extensive network of 7,500+ gyms and studios, along with innovative features like personalised diet plans and an AI-powered fitness coach, online global workout sessions all aimed at empowering individuals to prioritise their health on their own terms.

In essence, the inspiration behind FITPASS lies in our belief that fitness should be accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance. We are proud to be driving positive change in the wellness industry and remain committed to our mission of making fitness a lifestyle choice for everyone. Our ultimate vision?  To lead India towards becoming the world’s fittest nation, because ‘Hum Fit Toh India Fit’.

How does FITPASS leverage AI to personalise fitness plans for users? Can you elaborate on the technology behind this process?

Akshay Verma: One of our core features, FITCOACH by FITPASS, is a groundbreaking AI technology, ARIA (Advanced Recommendation Engine for Individual Assistance), which has redefined personalised fitness coaching.

Unlike traditional human-led coaching, ARIA’s adaptive approach tailors workout plans based on each user’s unique fitness needs and performance. Analysing vast amounts of data and considering 130 different ways the human body can move, ARIA creates workout plans with precision and efficiency.

Since its launch in January 2018, FITCOACH (ARIA) has consistently been a disruptor in the fitness industry, now coaching over 8 lakh people each month. Its innovative approach addresses the issue of certifications among fitness coaches in India, offering reliable and well-qualified AI coaching, outshining traditional methods.

Empowering users to explore various workout options, FITCOACH allows them to make choices that align with their unique individuality and aspirations. With the “build your own workout” feature and feedback mechanism, users can curate their exercise routines based on their experiences and preferences.

FITPASS showcased its forward-thinking vision and commitment to innovation by introducing A.I. technology to fitness coaching when such innovations were still in their early stages of adoption in India. FITCOACH (ARIA) has set new benchmarks, paving the way for the future of fitness coaching in India and beyond.

FITPASS’ technology-driven approach revolves around personalisation and accessibility, tailored to the unique needs and preferences of its users, contributing to a holistic approach to well-being.

What are some of the key challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?

Akshay Verma: During our early stages, one of our primary challenges was educating the market about the importance of fitness. In 2015, while fitness was a global priority, India was still addressing more fundamental needs. Fitness was not yet a routine part of daily life and was often viewed as a luxury—expensive, time-consuming, and inaccessible for many.

On the partner front, the fitness industry was a deeply unorganised sector awaiting digitisation and democratisation. Traditionally, customers were required to pay for a full year’s service upfront. Introducing FITPASS required time to demonstrate the advantages to our partners.

However, I’m proud to share that once partners joined our network, they stayed, barring management changes or facility closures. Now, we often receive inquiries from owners eager to list their establishments on our app.

We learned valuable lessons and have continuously strengthened our operations. FITPASS has pioneered operations as an asset-light, capital-efficient business leveraging technology, similar to the shared economy models of Uber and Airbnb.

We match aggregated customer demand with a network of assets, which, combined with our proprietary AI technology, enables strong unit economics and scalability across multiple locations.

In what ways has technology and AI transformed the fitness industry, and what role does FITPASS play in driving this transformation?

Akshay Verma: The landscape of the fitness industry has been reshaped by technology, introducing a new era of flexibility, convenience and personalisation. Innovations have streamlined the way people exercise, track progress, and stay motivated.

Through cutting-edge data analytics and machine learning algorithms, technology now offers tailored recommendations based on individual fitness goals, preferences, and activity levels. AI coaching, virtual training platforms, wearable devices, and intuitive tracking modes are just a few examples of how tech is providing holistic fitness solutions.

FITPASS has leveraged AI and technology to democratise access to fitness, making it more inclusive and affordable. With features like FITPASS membership, FITCOACH, FITFEAST, and FITPASS-TV and more, we enable users to seamlessly integrate fitness into their daily lives, embracing the #YourFitnessYourWay philosophy.

Moreover, our advanced features enhance the overall fitness experience, catering to a diverse user base. Consequently, individuals can enjoy greater flexibility in how, when, and where they engage in physical activity, fostering a more adaptable and personalised approach to well-being.

How do you see the future of AI in the fitness industry evolving, and what innovations can we expect from FITPASS in the coming years?

Akshay Verma: The fitness industry is poised for significant growth in the coming years, as more people become aware of the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle. The rise of wearable technology, virtual fitness classes, and personalised nutrition plans are just a few examples of how technology is already transforming the industry. 

Overall, technology is set to play an increasingly important role in the fitness industry, helping people stay engaged, motivated, and informed about their fitness journeys.

FITPASS aims to introduce a Health Score system similar to a credit score, offering members a comprehensive assessment of their health and fitness status. This score will serve as a benchmark for tracking progress and making informed decisions about their well-being.

Furthermore, it will encourage members to prioritise personalisation, allowing them to focus on areas in need of enhancement. Moreover, the Health Score will serve as a powerful motivator, inspiring individuals to cultivate the habit of a more consistent workout routine.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to integrate technology and AI into their fitness-related startups?

Akshay Verma: For an aspiring entrepreneur venturing into the fitness sector, I recommend making innovation and customer-centricity top priorities. In a rapidly evolving industry, it’s vital to lead the way by introducing inventive solutions that cater to changing consumer needs and preferences.

Moreover, by leveraging technology, such as fitness apps, wearable devices, or virtual training platforms, you can enhance user experiences, streamline operations, and provide valuable insights to empower individuals on their fitness journey.

By focusing on delivering exceptional value and personalised services, you can effectively differentiate your brand in a competitive market landscape.

There’s immense potential in exploring AI and technology within our sector, offering precision-tested solutions accessible to everyone. Exploring the frontier of AI-driven personalisation and data analytics could further revolutionise how fitness services are delivered and experienced, enhancing both effectiveness and engagement.

By harnessing these advancements, entrepreneurs can tap into new realms of opportunity and cater to a diverse range of consumer needs with unparalleled precision and efficiency.

In the dynamic landscape of fitness technology, Akshay Verma stands as a beacon of innovation and leadership.

Through FITPASS, his commitment to leveraging technology and AI has transformed the fitness experience for countless individuals, heralding a new era of accessibility and effectiveness. Verma’s vision continues to inspire, shaping the future of fitness with every step.

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