“We want to cater to people who would like to invest in their fitness,” Pratik Sud, co-founder of Synq.Fit, is clear about the target audience who might be interested in an indoor connected fitness bike that costs Rs 1,20,000.
The idea to launch a Synq.Fit indoor bike came from Sud’s own struggles to follow a fitness-regime during quarantine earlier last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic had just entered our lives. “I tried a few options like downloading a few apps, which allowed me to do some form of exercise, but that was entirely without a baseline machine or something which I could have a consistent output on,” Sud tells Indianexpress.com in an interview.
The demand for home workout equipment has increased during the pandemic as many people are reluctant to go back to gym and fitness clubs, and Sud’s company wants to encash on the concept of a connected home gym. “The thought behind the bike is that people are able to have a more structured approach to working out and in a more reliable, continuous, and easy to approach method of doing your daily workouts,” he said.
From the beginning, Sud knew the Synq.Fit would be more than the stationary exercise machine, a high-tech internet-enabled indoor bike with a 21.5-inch screen that streams live or on-demand classes right into your home, complete with motivating trainers. Synq.Fit is India’s first connected fitness bike, and at Rs 1,20,000 (available for Rs 85,000 as inaugural offer) excluding Rs 1,500 for monthly on-demand classes, may seem expensive, but Sud says the combined package offers a lot of value to those who want engaging and personal fitness solution at home.
The 37-year-old Sud, who previously founded two health tech ventures and also runs a co-working firm and incubator, says his past experience in health tech has helped him a lot in understanding where the market of fitness is headed. Sud is aware that fitness is a personal thing, and when combined with technology and in-person fitness classes and live-streamed ones, people get more interested.
Synq.Fit, as Sud pointed out, is different from the exercise bikes that are commonly found in gyms or at homes. It is a high-end exercise with a modern look. The bike has a zero-maintenance design with the moving parts that are completely closed; it’s entirely a magnetic bike, meaning it doesn’t have frictional parts for reducing or increasing the speed.
“Our prime focus thing was to make zero maintenance and a zero noise machine so that people can even have it inside their bedroom and do the workout, while the partner is sleeping in the morning,” Sud explains the rationale behind focusing on both the elements while designing the bike that is easy to use and making it compact. “We wanted to offer a gym-quality cardio workout in anyone’s home,” he said, adding that the existing at-home workout options are inconsistent as there is no one-on-one trainer approach involved.
But to make Synq.Fit a connected fitness bike, Sud and his team decided to add a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled 21.5-inch HD screen. The touch screen monitor is based on Android but runs a proprietary software customised for workouts and fitness. The system works just like Netflix, where you can choose your profile and it displays all of your stats and the last ride and not those of your other family members.
There have been premium indoor fitness bikes before, Sud had a different idea in the mind. He and his team decided to beam live or on-demand workout classes for customers for which they would charge separately from users.
“We have our own studio, we have our own trainers who are making the content every day,” he said. “We have handpicked trainers from across India, and all of them are certified and experienced trainers who train primarily on the cycling format.” Sud further added that the company currently broadcasts about six unique sessions every day that range from cycling, stretching, yoga, and functional training.
Having on-demand, live workout classes, in case you want to subscribe to, does offer some key benefits. Sud says they have designed sessions that will appeal to the broadest audience possible. The sessions are short in duration, and each of the six instructors are well trained. More importantly, the subscription gives you the option to book a live session and in case you missed out, a customer can rewatch the recorded session. Sud says a single subscription covers a family of four.
A subscription model puts the Synq.Fit fitness indoor bike into a unique position, something no other company is doing in India. Sud is aware of the same, but he insists that paying for on-demand, live classes is not necessary. “When I’m paying a subscription, it does not mean that the bike is completely useless without it. You can always watch a free YouTube video, but then again, if you want to do studio classes with a bit like a gym, there is a subscription element because it takes fairly intensive production effort from our end,” he explains. In the future, the company might offer a free subscription where customers have added to a few training sessions a day but nothing has been planned as of yet.
Sud has a larger vision around the subscription but he also adds that the content has to be strong to support the business model. “Until the content is not premium or fresh, we are not going to make any strides in the market,” he said.
Sud has realistic expectations from the Synq.Fit bike for the first year. The company plans to sell 1,500 units of Synq.Fit bikes in India. Customers can log in to the official site and purchase the bike. However, in the beginning, the company is limiting the availability to Delhi-NCR with plans to launch the bike in other parts of the country in the next four to five months.
It’s early for the Synq.Fit bike, but Sud and his team are already working on a host of features to improve the experience. For instance, Sud revealed that they are working on a new feature that would act as an interface between Google Fit and Apple Health, allowing the bike to sync all your fitness activities with the two apps. Sud also indicated launching a connected treadmill at some point in the future.
Sud, who co-founded Synq.Fit with other partners last year, aims to transform the startup into a connected fitness brand. Peloton comes closest to what Sud and his team are trying to achieve here, a US-based “connected fitness” company that has a cult following. Founded in 2012, Peloton made working from home exciting and motivated, and perhaps why the company has millions of paying users. It offers expensive, high-tech fitness bikes layered with a monthly subscription for the live workout classes. US President Joe Biden is a big fan of a Peloton bike and so is Hugh Jackman.
“Nobody is combining hardware and software as us,” Pratik says, who has a team of 17 members including two other co-founders. “You like the bike for the piece of hardware it is, but after a month of using it, you should be raving about our trainers and how you feel after a workout,” he said.