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How this Suniel Shetty-backed startup evolved from a WhatsApp Group to an online fitness marketplace

Sumit Vishwakarma
New Update
fittr startup story

The industry in India, while rapidly growing, is fraught with challenges that stem from widespread misinformation and the prevalence of unscientific fitness advice. Many individuals eager to improve their health and fitness often find themselves navigating through a maze of conflicting information, leading to confusion and ineffective results. 

The problem is exacerbated by the abundance of so-called fitness experts who propagate myths and fad diets, further misleading people seeking genuine guidance. 

The lack of reliable, science-backed fitness advice is a significant barrier for those looking to achieve their goals effectively.

Jitendra Chouksey recognised this issue firsthand. His personal journey, from being bullied as a child for his weight to transforming his health through fitness, highlighted the transformative power of proper fitness guidance. 


He observed that many around him struggled with similar issues, often falling prey to misinformation and ineffective fitness regimes. 

The realisation led to the inception of Fittr, a startup aimed at democratising health and fitness by providing accessible, science-based advice. 

The startup's mission is to cut through the noise of the fitness industry and offer clear, credible guidance to those looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Who are the founders?

Besides Jitendra Chouksey, the founding team includes Jyoti Dabas, Rohit Chattopadhyay, and Bala Krishna Reddy.

Jitendra Chouksey, who is an IT Engineer by education, worked in the tech sector for over eight years. His personal journey, marked by self-education and experimentation, led him to discover the importance of quantified nutrition. 

After transforming himself and winning the Muscle Mania Muscle Model 2015 title, he began sharing his fitness knowledge for free, eventually training coaches to spread his methods. The initiative grew into Fittr. 

Jyoti Dabas is an MBA graduate from IIM-Calcutta and has an Electronics and Communications Engineering degree from the University of Warwick. She is also a Doctor of Naturopathy, Certified Personal Trainer, and Certified Life Coach. 

Fittr wasn’t her first venture. Prior to this, Dabas founded INFS, an online fitness certification institute aiming to improve the quality and opportunities for professionals. 

Rohit Chattopadhyay began his journey at Fittr as a member of its Facebook community. His transformation led him to realise his passion in this field. He joined Fittr as a coach and later became a co-founder. 

Lastly, Bala Krishna Reddy, who has a master’s degree in Science and a decade of experience in technology, worked with large corporations in India and the US. He was part of the team that developed the Fittr website while working at Ford Motors. Recognising his interest in fitness, he moved to India to fully commit to Fittr.

How did it start?

Fittr's journey from a small WhatsApp group to a leading health and fitness platform is a story of evolution and adaptation. It all started in 2014 when Jitendra, who is also known as JC, created a WhatsApp group to help his friends with their goals. 

The group's success and positive feedback led JC and his co-founders, Jyoti Dabas, Rohit Chattopadhyay, Bala Krishna Reddy, and Sonal Singh, to expand their reach to Facebook. They created a Facebook group called S.Q.U.A.T.S, an acronym for "Systematic Quantitative Unified Aesthetic Transformation System." 

The group allowed them to connect with a larger audience and create a judgment-free community focused on fitness. The Facebook group's success highlighted the need for a platform that could provide personalised guidance based on quantified nutrition. Recognising this opportunity, the team launched Fittr in 2016 with an initial investment of Rs 90,000. 

The founders’goal was to create a platform where anyone could learn about fitness, transform their bodies, find inspiration, and even explore career opportunities in the fitness industry. 

The fundamental training methodology developed by Fittr emphasised the importance of quantified nutrition, proving that anyone could achieve fitness goals with the right knowledge. 

In 2018, Fittr launched its mobile application to further its reach and make fitness accessible to everyone. 

Presently, Fittr operates as a tech-enabled, community-first platform that not only focuses on physical fitness but also aims to promote holistic well-being, including mental and emotional health. 

What kind of services does Fittr offer?

Fittr operates as a comprehensive platform, offering a range of services to cater to various health and fitness needs. The platform provides personalised coaching, including customised diet and workout plans, and access to consultations from over 700 experts. 

Additionally, Fittr features unique health programs such as FITTR Care, designed for Indian families, and FITTR Hart, a heart rate variability and recovery tracker that aids in optimising sleep and enhancing recovery. 

The platform also offers opportunities for individuals to become fitness coaches through its paid courses taught by certified experts. 

Fittr leverages AI technology to create intuitive tools that assist users in their fitness journey, including a suite of easy-to-use tools like diet and training tools, body fat calculators, and macros calculators. 

Furthermore, Fittr's subsidiary, the Institute of Nutrition and Fitness Sciences (INFS), established by co-founder Jyoti Dabas, focuses on imparting comprehensive and practical knowledge in health and fitness. 

INFS offers a range of online courses aimed at promoting scientific learning and research in the health and wellness industry. 

To date, INFS has enrolled over 12,000 students in its certificate courses and continues to expand its offerings in areas such as Ayurveda and mindfulness.

How does Fittr make money?

Fittr operates on a freemium model, meaning many of its services are available for free to all users. Additionally, The startup connects its users to a large community, which is made up of both fitness professionals and enthusiasts, with over three million members. 

However, when users require more personalized assistance to meet their specific health and fitness objectives, Fittr offers premium services, including tailor-made nutrition and exercise plans, which are crafted by one of Fittr’s 500+ certified coaches.

Interestingly, These coaches, many of whom are part of the Fittr community and have undergone their own fitness transformations, provide comprehensive support. This support includes detailed consultation calls and regular weekly check-ups to monitor the users' progress, all managed through the Fittr app.

For example, a user looking to lose weight and build muscle might opt for a personalized plan. They would be matched with a coach who specializes in these areas. The coach would then create a customized diet and exercise regimen for the user, provide ongoing guidance, and adjust the plan as needed based on the user's progress and feedback.

The cost for these personalized coaching services varies, depending on the chosen coach and the length of the coaching package. The specific fee is determined by the qualifications and experience of the coach, as well as the duration of the coaching engagement. 

Fittr's funding and investors

The startup remained bootstrapped until May 2019, after which it raised an undisclosed amount in a seed round from Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty. The following year, Fittr secured Rs 1.5 crore from Sequoia's Surge.

As the startup continued to grow, it received $11.5 million in its Series A funding round from Dream Capital, Elysian Park Ventures, and Surge. Last week (January 8), Fittr raised Rs 28 crore (approximately $3.5 million) in funding from Zerodha's venture fund, Rainmatter.

"We are happy to partner with and support FITTR in its mission to educate people about the importance of nutrition and health. Their mission aligns with our desire to do whatever we can to help Indians live well," Zerodha's Rainmatter said.

Future goals

In the long term, Fittr aims to make 50 million people fit and create thousands of meaningful career opportunities in the fitness industry. The startup has a mission is to become the leading global social platform and marketplace for fitness coaching by educating and inspiring people to get fit and transform people's lives.

For the upcoming two years, The startup aims to focus on generating effective employment for more than a thousand fitness and nutrition coaches. It also aims to bring the fraternity of fitness enthusiasts together to usher in much-needed innovation in the industry. 

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