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Survival of the fittest

Fitness entrepreneur Cyrus Driver has built a business on the belief that low-calorie foods don’t have to be boring. That was the sole reason behind setting up his company Calorie Care in Mumbai, which delivers customised calorie-counted healthy meals in offices and homes. Driver points out that all his meals are research-based and his team (15 dieticians and chefs) has developed a library of 400 nutritious recipes.

“When we started out, we did thorough research on food habits, lifestyle diseases and food preferences. Soon we came up with software which could generate customised reci-pes for individuals based on their unique health problems,” he says.

Driver is one of a handful of new entrepreneurs who’ve jumped onto the wellness bandwagon by providing innovative services for the health conscious. These businessmen and women offer services and products ranging from juices laced with Ayurvedic ‘super-boosters’ to a health portal and even a Yoga centre where you can choose which type of Yoga you’d like to practice.

Says Driver: “The focus has changed from health to overall wellbeing. Fitness doesn’t mean only weight loss but includes related lifestyle problems like hypertension, osteoporosis and so on. We need to address health issues seriously and for that we need to come up with newer fitness concepts.”

Driver insists that he’s offering a scientifically planned service. The crucial USP he offers is that all the meals are calorie-counted. A potential customer while making a meal request, has to supply details like his or her age, weight and any health related issues (like whether they are diabetic, have cholesterol problems, high blood pressure etc).

Yoga Sutra started by Samanta Duggal (centre) allows clients to try out all forms of Yoga under one roof

This information is then fed into a specially developed software which then generates a customised meal plan. Today, his company in Mumbai delivers 1,000 meals per day and that includes breakfast, lunch, mid-meal snacks and dinner. The meals (which have different characteristics like being low sugar, low salt and low oil) are either tray packed (in disposable plastic trays) or dabba packed (in stainless steel containers). Prices are between Rs 85 and Rs 200 for vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals.

Or, take Mohali-based Amit Sharma, 29, who runs Bloom Juices. These are juice bars with a difference according to Sharma. That’s because Bloom bars serve 63 fresh fruit juices coupled with Ayurvedic ‘boosters’.

Wellocity, the brainchild of IIM graduates Nikhil Vaswani and Rohit Shankar, was launched to help working professionals lead a healthy life; (below) Anand Anupam launched an online health portal to help people manage their healthcare needs
Gajanan Dudhalkar

Sharma, who did his MBA in Australia and worked in the US and in London, collaborated with a team of Ayurvedic doctors who’ve come up with what an array of what he calls ‘super-boosters’ to be used in health drinks. These boosters are basically herbs that aim to boost the functioning of the heart and brain and also have anti-stress and anti-ageing properties.

All his research and pre-clinical trials are done from a research lab in Canada. Says Sharma: “Today customers take their health seriously and are conscious about their food and drink choices. The market is finally opening up for health juices without sugar and added preservatives.”

Besides eating calorie counted meals and swigging herbal fresh fruit juices, you can look after your wellbeing in a different way by creating a health profile on healthizen.com, an online health portal.

This portal is the brainchild of Anand Anupam, an electronics engineer from IIT Kharagpur, who wanted to make healthcare readily accessible for as large a number of people as possible. Anupam worked in several pharma companies before launching the service in January 2007. Says Anupam: “The portal is more patient-centric rather than doctor-centric. So here you can not only manage your health records but also seek expert medical advice 24 X 7 on any health related issues.”

The portal (with already 200,000 registered customers) allows individuals to upload, manage and track health records wherever they are in the world. You can also seek medical interventions based on the medical reports. The portal has tie-ups with 350 healthcare organisations like hospitals, diagnostic labs, pharmacies and gyms across the country.

Some of the portal’s services, like uploading of medical records and gen-eric diet consultations with dieticians, are available for free. However, for a personalised diet plan the charge is Rs 499. Other features’ include appointment reminders, prescription refills and vaccination alerts.

So who are the target consumers taking up these niche fitness concepts? The answer is — almost anyone. “Health freaks who are anywhere between 16 and 60,” says Yoga director Samanta Duggal, at Yoga Sutra. Duggal and fellow Yoga practitioner Shaleen Parekh, have started what they call an “open Yoga studio” in Mumbai.

What’s an open Yoga studio? It’s a place where there are facilities to try out all forms of Yoga including Iyengar, Shivananda and Hatha Yoga under one roof. A package of 16 classes at her studio is priced at Rs 250 per class while a six-class pack is priced at Rs 275 per class. Even single drop-ins are entertained and have to pay Rs 350 per session. Says Duggal: “Initially, it was tough to convince teachers practising various forms of Yoga to come under one roof.”

Flexible class timings are one of the studio’s USPs and one can drop in for any session any time of the day. In an earlier avatar, Duggal was a trained dancer who performed for the Shiamak Davar Dance Company. But she hung up her dancing shoes and moved on to learn various forms of Yoga.

At an entirely different level, look at Ahmedabad-based IIM graduates Nikhil Vaswani and Rohit Shankar who opted out of placements from IIM-Ahmedabad and instead went ahead and launched Wellocity in Ahmedabad. “The idea was to help company executives and government officials lead a healthy life and cope with boardroom stress,” says Vaswani. Wellocity is a full-fledged wellness centre equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, two fitness studios, a salon and a Mediterranean-themed spa. Packages for companies and individuals are all customised.

Some of these fitness entrepreneurs have ambitious expansion plans. While Anupam’s healthizen.com has registered clients from all four metros, Driver will soon roll out his calorie-counted meal service in Delhi and Bangalore by next year. Sharma too is upbeat about the future and is looking at opening 15 Bloom juice centres across India soon. Vaswani and Shankar, who recently launched Wellocity in Rajkot, are coming up with another centre in Nadiad.

The obsession with fitness and wellness is not going to fade in a hurry. Says Anupam: “The wellness industry is buzzing with action and it only needs health-savvy individuals to come up with innovative concepts to stay ahead in the fitness game.”

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