How Rishi moved his fitness business online amid COVID-19

By Zane Skuja read
18 Dec, 2021
How Rishi moved his fitness business online amid COVID-19

Offline fitness studios were among the many businesses who were heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. When it first hit, Rishi Baveja and his BoxFit team were just opening their first fitness studio. Just like in boxing, they moved fast and worked hard to adapt to the new circumstances. By June 2020, they had their online trainings set up and their Sellfy store open for business. They chose Sellfy because of its simplicity, mobile friendly interface, and its Stripe integration. Product launch tests, meticulous user research, and personalised customer support have been key to their success. Here’s how Rishi and BoxFit team took their offline fitness studio to the next level by opening an online store with Sellfy.

Can you briefly describe your business and how it began? 

I’m the co-founder of BoxFit Boutique Fitness. Before that, I was working in asset management at BlackRock, an eCommerce startup in India. One day, I wandered into a little basement and met my business partner, Rahul. I thought what they were doing was super exciting. So, we sat down and talked, and I said, “You know what? Let’s make it happen.”

Fast forward to now, we have 12 instructors, a team of marketers and some freelancing videographers. My business partners, Rahul and Akil, work on the operational as well as the strategic side of the business. Altogether, we’re quite a good team.

Initially, we started with offline studios in Delhi. The idea was to build upon the boutique fitness industry, which didn’t really exist in India at the time. We evolved from an Instagram live setup to a full-on studio. Our setup now consists of four camera angles and our very own app powered by Vimeo.

BoxFit team

What makes your fitness business unique?

My business partner, Rahul, spent years developing a specific workout for the Indian body that we’re now using in our business. We’re also a very female-oriented brand which is quite unique in Indiait’s difficult for women to find a place where they feel comfortable working out.

Our app also makes it possible for people to interact with instructors in real time—we call it the Custom Live workout. People can choose what music they want and change it during the live session. So, they can literally influence the workout they’re doing and they really love it. 

One of BoxFit’s Live workouts

What made you look for a solution like Sellfy?

Our goal or idea had always been to build an omni-channel business—an online product to complement our offline services. Then Covid hit right in the middle of a fundraiser when we were opening our first studio. At first, we didn’t know what to do, but we didn’t give up. We decided it would be a great opportunity for us to accelerate our digital product.

We wanted to set up online training sessions and collect payments, and we chose Sellfy for a number of reasons. One being that I’m a huge fan of Stripe, and Sellfy has a very easy Stripe integration. The other reason was the ease of navigating the store. 

Sellfy was perfect for selling fitness equipment and digital content. So, now we actually try to encourage people to pay via Sellfy because we can add discount codes.

Adding products is very quick, intuitive and user-friendly. Sellfy’s smooth interface looked nice even without having to put in hours of work. I had the first set of products live in my store within less than a day.


What’s your secret for success during a global pandemic? 

When the pandemic started and offline studios weren’t doing well, we decided to reach out to our audience and focus on building our digital product. We saw a shift in consumer behaviour quicker than anticipated, and that gave us the push to start with live Instagram workouts and connect with our followers. We did a lot of research and spoke to our audience. Interestingly, many people who hadn’t tried our brand earlier started signing up for it.

It was obviously a terrible time in the world, but I think it was also a great opportunity for us to go digital.

We were lucky enough to have generous landlords and everything else set up in time to weather the storm. So, despite the pandemic, we were able to create something that previously would’ve taken months to accomplish.

Why Sellfy and not another eCommerce solution?

The reviews I saw about Sellfy were very positive, so I was keen to give it a try. It also seemed like the fastest way to set up an online store. It would’ve been more time-consuming to set things up with another eCommerce solution.

I liked the ease of customisation for things like throwing in a promo video, and the intuitive user interface. I also liked the way my Sellfy store looked on mobile and the flexibility of having both digital and physical products. 

The pricing was good, too. So, it was really just a mix of everything.

How do you engage with your target audience? 

Our audience is mainly online, so our Instagram accounts are pretty solid communication tools for interacting with them. We also use WhatsApp, email and then influencer marketing as we get a lot of influencers coming to the gym. Many of our Indian clients are happy to engage with us on WhatsApp groups where we keep them motivated throughout their workout programs.

BoxFit Instagram account

How has Sellfy helped your business?

Sellfy has helped us be more data-driven and use different marketing tactics. We can now do more than just digital products—we’re able to run Google and Facebook ads. Plus, I can see things better from a consumer’s perspective.

Sellfy’s in-built tools like tracking email open rates and using coupon codes are pretty useful. I’ve been able to do A/B testing with different price points and discounts for digital and physical products. It has given us more flexibility in distributing digital content.

For instance, I can add a new product quickly, promote it and test it out, and see the response. If it’s great, I can scale it further, and if it isn’t, I can just move on.

What tips would you give to someone who wants to take their business online?

I’d say it’s better to try many things and figure out what works for you than be slow in your decision-making. I think the rule we always follow is that we don’t want to win the game 3:0, we want to win 120:92.

It’s best to try many things and figure out what works for you. You’re not going to get everything right at first. In fact, we’ve had plenty of products that didn’t work out for us. But, when we did get it right, our product generated a thousand sales within a week. 

Keep creating quality content and don’t worry if it doesn’t work out the first time. Avoid obsessing over it because then you’ll never release anything and you won’t know if it was right for you. I think that was the biggest lesson for us.

I’d also recommend engaging with your audience in the way that is best for them. Don’t tell them where to go—use the same social media channel or platform that they’re using. It’s important to listen to your audience and build your business around them.

What about your future plans?

We want to open more studios, continue with the app and the digital products. Eventually, I think we’ll move into connected fitness. We have want to build something like an interactive boxing bag and a Peloton style workout. So, that’s on our roadmap.

Zane started out in Sellfy as a Customer Support rep and quickly became fascinated with clients' business stories. Having worked in Customer Experience and Marketing projects, she is now part of the Customer Success team and enjoys interviewing Sellfy creators.