Mukesh Bansal likes going on walks. Usually, it’s around a couple of beautiful South Bangalore lakes, Haralur and Agara Lakes, rejuvenated and maintained by local citizens. Other times, it’s in a new park behind his four-storey Cure.fit HQ in the hip HSR neighbourhood. Late one day last week, Bansal had clocked 8,221 steps by 3 PM.

Less frequently—twice a week—he attends a fitness class.

“I have realised that for good health, you don’t need to do one or two hours of workouts every day,” he said. “I think even doing 20, 25 minutes two, three times a week is sufficient to get your body moving.”

Science supports his claim that physical activity is important for good health. Bansal is now betting that enough Indians will recognise this, too, and will vote with their time, habits and wallets.

Bansal is co-founder, together with Ankit Nagori, of one of India’s biggest health tech startups: Cure.fit investors—including one of Bollywood’s leading actors Hrithik Roshan—and debt financiers have poured over Rs 1,184 crore ($167 million) into the company in just the two years his company has been around.

Using that money, he has built Cure.fit like an octopus, a behemoth that reaches into all buckets of preventive healthcare. He co-owns 70 fitness centres called Cult.fit; 11 meditation-focused Mind.fit centres; one Care.fit clinic stocked with 10 doctors, a basic diagnostics lab and a pharmacy; and a food business called Eat.fit that’s currently selling around 10,500 meals every day. All this ties into a Cure.fit app (the “.fit” is both branding and custom Internet domain, replacing the traditional “.com”).

“I do not know what Cure.fit is not planning to do,” said a health industry executive, with a laugh. “I think they’re amazing, we want them to build more gyms. If they can just do that one thing well, forget about all the other stuff, I think they’ll be building a huge business.”

Bansal, though, sees each of his seemingly independent and unconnected businesses as just the building blocks for what he’s really building: a “super app” that will offer everything from apple pie to world peace, so to speak, around health and fitness, to pretty much everyone.

A fitness boom

India's fitness and wellness market could grow to $90 billion by 2022, up from $35 billion in 2016. Functional packaged goods, sports and other categories will helm the growth, according to Praxis Global Alliance and YourNest.

Beginning in October, the Cure.fit app will become the nerve centre tying in all parts of Bansal’s .fit universe. It will tell users how to lose weight, manage chronic illness, anger, or even improve relationships. To help users reach these aspirational goals, it will not only provide health plans, but also the stuff of the plans—the workouts, the meals, health checkups, and mental health therapy.

AUTHOR

Gayathri Vaidyanathan

Gayathri writes on health, environment and science. She has reported and produced stories for the Washington Post, Discover, Nature, and the New York Times, amongst other publications. In her last assignment, she was the lead science writer for E&E News in Washington, D.C. E&E News is a news organisation focused on energy and the environment. Over the past decade, Gayathri has travelled across North America, Africa and Asia on long-form reporting projects. She has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor's in biochemistry from McMaster University in Ontario. At The Ken, Gayathri will write on healthcare, the pharmaceutical business and the environment. Based in Bengaluru, you can reach her at gayathri at the rate the-ken.com

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