Virat Kohli-backed Chisel Fitness plans 100 centres by 2018

Virat Kohli
Chisel, the Virat Kohli-backed fitness start-up, is set to introduce technology-enabled workout routines, targeting young information technology workers, as it expands its network of fitness centres across India.

Targeting 100 centres across the country by 2018, the Bengaluru-based start-up is planning to launch its own fitness devices and will introduce ‘gamified’ fitness routines. While technology will play a big part in fitness, Chisel believes there’s no alternative to having a physical presence and giving users access to qualified trainers.

“Fitness is all about being physical. You cannot just use some watch to track your calories and not work out. It has to be a combination of technology and the environment of where you go that motivates you to work out. We are thinking of coming out with our own brand, which can sync with our programmes,” said Satya Sinha, co-founder of Chisel.

To grow its base of centres, Chisel is looking at a hybrid model of having its own centres along with signing up franchise partners. The firm isn’t just looking at tapping customers in metros, but also in tier-2 towns such as Guwahati and Indore in the coming months. For this, it has come up with four different levels of centres, varying in luxury and size.

The investment demanded by franchise partners is between Rs 1 crore and Rs 3.5 crore, depending on the level they choose. Chisel charges Rs 25-35 lakh as annual franchise fee, while offering partners a business model that allows them to break even within 25-30 months.

A large part of that fee will go towards training and certifying trainers and staff in each of the centres under Chisel. “Hiring and training is our responsibility because we believe only a certified and experienced trainer will help members achieve their goals,” said Sinha.

Chisel has signed up 18 partners and opened three centres. The firm plans to open four more centres in April, one of which will be located in Manyata Tech Park, where Chisel will target young IT workers who are prone to several health and fitness issues because of their lifestyle.

The fitness sector in India is highly unorganised and there are several start-ups looking at utilising technology to bring order to the space. Some of them include GOQii, a marketplace for personal fitness trainers that monitors a user’s progress via a smartphone-enabled app; and Orobind, a fitness tech firm that was acquired by Housejoy, which provides users with a personal fitness trainer at home.

With an investment of Rs 90 crore in Chisel, Kohli's biggest competition will come from SportsFit, a chain of gyms backed by teammate Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Chisel will also compete with global brands such as Gold’s Gym, which functions in the premium fitness segment.

“There are a lot of international brands, but we want to introduce fitness concepts that are tailored for the Indian body type and mindset. We can’t completely copy what they do because the food we eat is different, the body type is different and we have conceptualised our brand around that,” added Sinha.

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