According to a report by the Global Wellness Institute, Pakistan shockingly ranked 149 out of 150 countries for recreational physical activity. The stats are appalling given that we have the 5th largest population in the world. On top of that, other health indicators such as low life expectancy compared to regional benchmarks also point to significant room for improvement, which presents a massive, under-tapped opportunity.
That’s where AimFit saw a massive opportunity and decided to seize it. The AimFit sisters are set on changing this statistic, a feat that the boom in online fitness start-ups of the west have not managed to tackle, as of yet.
AimFit emerged as yet another healthcare startup but one that is more dedicated to providing a healthy and fit lifestyle to stay-at-home people during COVID-19 lockdown.
What initially started as a personal passion, quickly expanded from a small rented place in Lahore to four of its own studios served by a team of 55 instructors, all of whom were trained through AimFit’s own instructor academy and certification.
AimFit launched a bootstrapped online offering within 24 hours of the COVID-19 lockdown to strengthen online traction from its members.
What is AimFit?
In September 2014, two sisters Mahlaqa Shaukat and Noor Shaukat returned to Pakistan from the UK to conceive a fitness movement, led by women, for women. This movement materialized in the form of AimFit. The business is now recognized as a leading platform that provides fitness classes to females belonging to the well-off segments of Lahore and Islamabad’s population.
AimFit is on a mission to revolutionize female fitness in Pakistan as well as across other similar geographical regions. What actually differentiates AimFit is the transformative impact it has had on its members and on the fitness industry in the country at large. The team at AimFit envisions a Pakistan where a fit and healthy lifestyle is a choice for everyone.
AimFit’s Value Proposition
The need for such a startup stemmed from the lack of dedicated spaces for women to achieve their fitness goals. That is, of course, an opportunity, especially with the global post-covid inclination towards a fit and healthy lifestyle. It wasn’t, therefore, unlikely for two Oxford University-graduated women with a passion for fitness to do something about it and cash in on the opportunity.
For an underdeveloped country like Pakistan, thinking about physical fitness is expensive, and considered an upper-class endeavor. The seedy gyms that do exist in the underbelly with iron cast dumbbells and tin cans filled with concrete as weights are not usually the kind of places that are welcoming to women. But even in the upper classes, the opportunities for women are limited.
And this is where AimFit comes in with its business plan tapping into an untapped market.
Background of Founders
Mahlaqa completed her Master’s from the University of Oxford with a specialization in Engineering. She started her professional journey as a Research Analyst at Deloitte and continued at the same company for a few years. In 2014, she joined Teach for Pakistan as a City Programme Manager.
Then, finally, in 2015 she co-founded AimFit with her sister.
Noor is a LUMS alumni and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Management Sciences. After that, she completed her Master’s at the University of Oxford in Physics and Psychology.
In 2015, she co-founded AimFit alongside her sister.
AimFit’s Business Idea
While the last few years have seen a boost in health and fitness clubs in the major cities of Pakistan, smaller cities and the female population have been mainly ignored.
In addition to having female co-founders and an all-female management team, over 90 percent of all the employees of AimFit are women.
However, with the increasing usage of smartphones and high-speed internet connectivity, AimFit plans to leverage its online fitness solution to reach this segment. Post COVID-19 lockdown, AimFit had shut down its fitness studios and launched online, home-based workout sessions for its members. The popularity of these pre-recorded fitness classes, ranging from Dance Fitness to HIIT and Yoga, propelled the company into its next growth phase in the online fitness market.
Currently, access to studios is available as class bundles valid for a certain period of time (e.g. a 12-class package valid for 1 month) or unlimited classes contract for one year where every month, the members pay a subscription fee.
The current online platform allows subscribers to access an on-demand, professionally filmed, recorded, and edited fitness library (ranging from Dance Fitness, Yoga, Pilates, HIIT, and other programs, all localized to the Pakistani market). AimFit also releases a brand new featured workout for its paying members on a daily basis. All its classes are 45-minute follow-along workout sessions.
Seed Funding: Raised $1 million
In September 2020, the startup raised a Seed round of $1M to become the first VC-backed fitness startup in Pakistan.
The round was led by Indus Valley Capital, a Pakistan-focused fund started by LinkedIn’s former VP Growth Aatif Awan. Angel investors include an unnamed unicorn founder and the founding team of Atoms amongst other high-profile investors.
AimFit plans to turbo-charge its growth through its online platform complemented by the expansion of its studio footprint across the country, by launching Flagship studios across major cities of Pakistan. Additionally, it will also be rolling out its online platform across all Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.