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7-month-old startup shapes itself during lockdown to recreate sports and fitness for India

While the world grapples with the current coronavirus crisis, the challenge remains the same for all of us. One question that has been at the back of minds is, how do we become a better version of ourselves?

7-month-old startup shapes itself during lockdown to recreate sports and fitness for India
Bengaluru, First Published Apr 19, 2020, 7:30 PM IST
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Bengaluru: The eyes are on the future as the number of coronavirus cases has been on the rise. We are sure that it will end, but the number of deaths from coronavirus in India (above 500) and the number of cases at the moment (15,707) has led the majority of people to rightly think it’s safer indoors and people have started to make temporary changes to their lifestyles.

While we go into this survival mode, we should realise that a lot of our physical activities or sports activities were not without reason. Giving up on that does not make much sense either, as it affects both our physical and mental health.

For companies that focus on fitness and sports, the lockdown demanded a response – How are you going to adapt? This, without losing out on its core values.

It is true that we can't control what happens in life, but we can obviously control how we respond to it, that is the path we choose.

We take for example, a platform that imparts comprehensive sport training to children and young adults, which was faced with the same dilemma.

Amit Gupta, founder of upUgo realised that children are not exposed to enough physical activity and thought to solve this problem through an idea-based startup which provides a personal trainer for children and young adults. Upon researching further, he found that the accessibility and affordability of sports centres are scanty in our country and to address this, he created upUgo, a virtual model to promote fitness. The idea is to reach young adults in condominiums who might otherwise neglect their physical health.

“We commenced at the society level wherein children can use these services in the comfort of their premises. The company started operations six months back and was functioning quite smoothly,” Gupta said.

But everything stopped as the pandemic hit India. Initially, in March, the company had to halt its services as apartments denied entry to outsiders. While the company was already working on its digital platform, the outbreak had spread vociferously across the country. As it is famously said 'need is the mother of all invention', upUgo moved online through its digital platforms.

Gupta said, "The joy of getting children to play and see them have fun and being fit is unmatched. It's only a bonus that we're in the business of it."

Well, how can one still keep that joy and keep business going at a time like this?

The prevailing situation made the team at think hard and they followed the three golden principles at their make-shift office in the first week when COVID-19 was slowly transforming to a CRISIS-20.

These are the ideas the team came up with to adapt to the situation:

1. Acknowledging the situation, re-inventing as opposed to preserving

The team looked at an opportunity for improvement rather than being in survival mode. They did this by accelerating their blueprint in digital format and started shooting explainers, simple DIYs, at home workouts to enable customers not lose touch.

2. Agility, Nimbleness of change

If you’re supposed to be in, and you can’t be thinking on the lines of bringing people out, right? It requires a complete change in thought. “After sparing no effort in trying to bring children outdoors, we had to make a 360 degree flip to make them use gadgets and remain fit”, the founder stated, adding, that the silver lining is that they now have the opportunity to reach out to children everywhere and that more importantly the joy of watching them have fun is intact.

3. Infinite Mindset

The positive mind believes that possibilities are endless, and it seems like that the team was on the right track. “We didn't think/analyse too much and lament the crisis. We looked at it given our nascency - What happens to businesses during tumultuous times, Companies led by bad management decisions sink; Companies led by good management teams survive; Companies led with an infinite mindset people improve”, the founder added.

“While millions of adults across the world use these platforms to stay healthy and fit, we are exploring further in this uncharted territory to get our children fitter. We have conducted several live sessions, zoom sessions. We have witnessed a 300-400% rise in our social media traffic/ subscribers/ views. All this of course wasn't possible without the team I am blessed to have”, added Gupta.

There is no education like adversity, he concluded.

Earlier the physical model of upUgo was just limited to Bengaluru, however, after the pandemic and Amit Gupta’s passion to make this model accessible to everyone across the country, his boundaries have expanded. Now upUgo’s classes are free and are being taken up by people across the country from the ease of their homes. The company is conducting Zoom, Instagram and Facebook sessions and continues to stay in touch with all its customers through these sessions.

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