DLL to suggest a joint venture
Can you give us some background on Talwalkars Better Value Fitness clubs?
The great visionary, Vishnupant Talwalkar, founded Talwalkars in 1932 and the legacy has been taken forward by the following three generations.
Madhukar Vishnupant Talwalkar, Girish Madhukar Talwalkar and Prashant Sudhakar Talwalkar were instrumental in the formation of Talwalkars Better Value Fitness Limited in 2003.
Then, following significant progress and expansion, the company got listed on the stock exchange in 2010. It gives me immense pride to say that today there are over 250 branches of TBVF across India.
After a 2018 TBVF demerger, two companies were formed – namely Talwalkars Lifestyle Limited and Talwalkars Health Club Limited. I am presently the managing director of Talwalkars Health Club Limited.
It was around six years ago that I approached David Lloyd Leisure to associate with Talwalkars in India to create a unique venture – David Lloyd Clubs Talwalkars.
Why did you decide to approach DLL at that time?
After the expansion of Talwalkars in the field of health clubs, we decided to explore the opportunity with David Lloyd Clubs. Although years of expertise have enabled us to gain a fair insight in all aspects of running a health club, we thought it wise to associate with the best in the business to help us set up our leisure clubs.
DLL not only has a prominent standing in the UK, but also a strong presence all across the European continent. The primary ethos of both Talwalkars and DLL is similar in that we both target the family market, hence there was a very organic synergy to the whole venture, which made our association very smooth and effective.
What have you learned from each other?
The collaboration has been very friendly, with equal inputs from both sides. While Talwalkars has oriented DLL in terms of Indian culture and business proceedings, DLL has brought its experience of creating high end leisure clubs. In fact, it wouldn’t be far fetched to say that someone from the UK could walk into a DLT Club and find absolutely no difference to a DLL club in the UK or Europe.
What is the current state of fitness in India?
It is rather unfortunate that India has barely 2 per cent of the population who can be termed as fitness conscious. However, the good news is that the Indian populace is getting more aware of the need to be fit and healthy and are gradually coming in to gyms and health-related facilities.
Of course, a steady shift in their financial position has also enabled a large number of Indians to join health and leisure clubs. A big advantage for a country like India as compared to other countries is the fact that we are able to sell long duration memberships – between one and 25 years – whereas other countries usually sell only limited duration memberships.
Are there any major differences in what Indians want from a fitness offering?
It would be fair to say that in the last 12 to 15 years, fitness has become more of a necessity than a luxury, considering the steady incline of stress, sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy eating habits. Meanwhile, greater awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle is driving Indians to gyms and clubs. This is clearly reflected in the fact that Talwalkars health clubs has increased its presence, with 250 branches in more than 29 states and 80 cities.
The response we got in Tier Three cities has been quite an eye opener when compared to the bigger metropolitan areas.
Even the female population has broken out of its conservative shackles and women are joining health clubs in greater numbers. Satellite TV has allowed Indians to broaden their views and India is almost on a par with other countries.
Why are you opening the first DLT club in Pune?
Metro cities in India can be prohibitively expensive. With Pune being the satellite city of Mumbai, it seemed like the perfect choice of location in which to open our leisure club. Talwalkars Health Clubs already has eight branches in Pune.
Many Mumbai residents own a second home in Pune or places in and around Pune city and could well be prospective members of the new club. Unlike a health club where one spends approximately an hour a dayn at the most, a leisure club is a place where a family can spend an entire day filled with sports activities, games and a whole lot of fun.
What are your future plans for DLT clubs?
Since health and fitness is still in its infancy in India, we’re far from saturation point, which is becoming the case in some more economically advanced countries.
Given India’s massive population size, I envision seven to 10 more DLT Clubs opening over the next 10 years across India.
It’s never a good idea to sit on your laurels, however successful you might have been in the past. Aspiration and hard work can help you to achieve goals you previously thought were impossible if you’re determined.
I anticipate that this eclectic mix of Indian culture and English discipline can prove to be an extremely enriching experience for Indians in the very near future.
Women in India are embracing fitness and are joining health clubs in greater numbers, says Talwalkar photo:shutterstock