CUREFIT- VIRTUAL FITNESS TRAINING CALLS FOR A LAYOFF
CureFit is a health and fitness company offering digital and offline experiences across fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.
As a result of the nationwide lockdown that has shuddered most sectors of the economy, CureFit has become the recent entrant into the list of companies laying off its employees. It is reported by the employees that CureFit is laying off thousands of its employees and even curtailing its Tier 2 presence by shutting down it's fitness centres/gyms.
Instead, during the time which the lockdown has been implemented and seems to go further especially in the larger cities, the company wants to switch its support to the virtual classes it had introduced starting from March, 2020.
CureFit is a health and fitness company offering digital and offline experiences across fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being. It is based in Bangalore and co-founded by Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori.
It aims to make fitness fun and easy, gives workouts a new direction with a range of trainer-led, group workout classes. It also suggests a healthy and tasty diet pattern, easy mental fitness with yoga and meditation, all of this hassle-free with a lifestyle and medical care too!
The company had received a funding of $110mn in a Series D funding led by Temasek, Singapore on March 21, which dates just three days prior to the date when lockdown was implemented in India. CureFit had to soon shift to online/virtual classes and even released a challenge allowing people to complete a day's training, as part of a fundraiser that would enable them to contribute the amount to the PM Cares Fund.
CureFit managed to donate INR 5 Crore to the PM Cares Fund through this one-day challenge.
However, in its talks with the team, CureFit has been pertinently conveying the employees that virtual classes have expanded with a million new users of which eighty percent were not members.
In fact, what the employees have raised as a central issue of dissidence is that the company managed to pay for celebrity endorsements in order to increase the hype of virtual classes.
But somehow, the company refused to pay the employees and started laying them off.
According to the employees, which number 8K in total, the company has fired people across boards - from trainers to human resource managers/executives and central heads.
On May 1, in a meeting with Rishabh Telang, who is the founder of CultFit, which is the physical fitness units and studios of CureFit acquired in 2016, the trouble for employees began. In the meeting, there were senior employees and master trainers who were told that the company had decided to layoff employees across boards and different hierarchical positions including trainers, managers, recruiters.
They were also told that CureFit had decided to close its centres in fifteen Tier 2 cities which included Mysore, Surat, Ahmedabad, Indore and others.
The employees with experience less than three months were first among those who would be asked to leave and those with poor ratings or bad feedback would be asked to resign. The trainers were also required to answer questions that may be raised by the affected employees about the layoffs.
However, the subsequent day, multiple master trainers received calls informing them of their termination. Employees reported that no written intimation was given to the impacted employees and asked them to send out resignations on email, allegedly threatening to terminate if they don’t by the end of the day.
According to the company’s standard employee contract, employees may be ‘terminated by giving one week’ notice or payment of pro-rata salary in lieu thereof probation and by giving one month’s’ notice or payment of a month’s salary in lieu thereof after confirmation by either party, except if being dismissed, discharge or termination of contract.
While the policy is standard, employees argued that they weren’t informed in writing and only verbally on phone calls. The multiple conversations with these employees showcase that their employers have considered neither ratings nor business-fit, as several of those employees said that they had a rating of over 3.8 along with being master trainers or perhaps star performers in the past.
With the Tier 2 centres shutting down, many of the employees in the fifteen listed cities have also been asked to resign before their contract is “terminated” by the company. Employees have reported that they were called on May 1st to do the same. Some of the employees wanted to be transferred but the company said that they were shutting down centres in the high-value cities as well. The company has decided to shut six out of sixteen centres in Mumbai, for instance.
Several Curefit trainers, as well as customers, also highlighted the layoffs and the sudden termination of contracts on social media, with the logo edited saying: CULT STOP FIRING. The impacted employees have also created a WhatsApp group to look at how they can help each other during the crisis. They have also sought help from the ministries.
The company however, affirms that it has reduced its employee base across business sectors where it has closed functions and has had to initiate pay cuts across levels. “The founders have taken a 100% pay cut, the management team 50% and the rest of the staff depending on seniority have a reduction of 20 to 30%,” the company said.
The company spokesperson also said that ninety percent of the employees are retained and those who have been impacted by the lay off have been given an adequate severance package to sail across the tough times. The company says that it has also created an emergency fund of INR 2 crore to help the employees in the crunch that they might face in the days to come. They have also assured full support to be extended to the affected employees.
However, the employees say that they do not know of any such severance or allowance being meted out. They were instead told by the company that they would lose their severance package if they do not resign on the day they were asked to.
One does conclude that the focus of the company has shifted to virtual fitness training culture. Layoffs are not surprising during this crisis but the concerns of CureFit are different. Having received a funding from Temasek, the company has been able to establish a strong virtual network and clearly will not be needing as many trainers as it previously did with all the functions possible anywhere in the world with the boost that the virtual classes have released.
With the success of the free virtual classes, CureFit is looking to expand it into its primary revenue source. As part of the same, it is said to be working on paid one-on-one personal training classes with third-party trainers, who will be working on a commission model. Also, it is to launch a group fitness product which will also be a paid product. These products are expected to be launched in mid-May.