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Fitness at a very primary level is defined as the state of well-being where one is able to perform athletic activities or carry out other tasks with ease. Over time many layers of meanings have been added to the primary definition - a process that has resulted in fitness being equated with one’s journey or a holistic entity with both mental and physical factors or persistence, hard work, etc.

The pandemic contributed to the process of adding meaning in its own way. Since at-home workouts became essential, fitness also became a way to condition one’s mind away from physical captivity and isolation. This was of course in addition to maintaining one’s health.

It is interesting to explore how brands associate themselves with physical fitness and what is the purpose of the said association?

Let’s consider a few examples:

Shilpa Shetty & John Abraham | EP 2 | Pintola Presents Shape of You | Attack | @Zee Music Company

In Pintola’s ‘Shape of You’, we see a food brand associating itself with fitness. In order to do so, they have come up with branded content in the chat show format, with stars such as John Abraham and Jacqueline Fernandez with Shilpa Shetty. Shilpa Shetty is a suitable choice of host as she herself is known for a healthy lifestyle.

The guest stars in Shape of You speak about their ideas on fitness. Thus, one gets to know not just about their fitness regimes but also their very interpretation of fitness. For instance, John Abraham equated fitness with a tripod: good food, good sleep, and good exercise.

Dabur’s Hello Fitness provides for a similar example:

Actors and stars talking casually about almost anything is a factor enough to draw audiences. But what is it that stars have to say about fitness?

For most of them, fitness is a career prerequisite. Staying in shape and cultivating an attractive body is an essential part of their profession. But over time it has also become an anchor around which other daily activities are organized.

Stars in chat shows revolving around fitness reiterate points that are already widely known like the importance of discipline, punctuality and how fitness helps in the cultivation of the same.

They also talk about enjoying the route to being fit. It is thus crucial to find joy in whichever regime one chooses to follow.

As both these shows are for food brands that are positioning their products as ‘health food’, a significant portion of the chat show focuses on the role played by food.

Interestingly, by associating with fitness both brands - Pintola and Dabur are trying to present food items such as butter and honey that are traditionally perceived as unhealthy in a healthier light.

Over the years, peanut butter and honey have been put in the ‘good foods’ camp through marketing of this kind. This is a remarkable reinterpretation, especially in the case of branded honey that sells in supermarkets, which contains a substantial amount of sugar syrup which is considered quite unhealthy.

Now, we look at the next type of fitness association that brand-stars/actors do. As flag bearers of highly aspirational body types, shapes and images, actors often are in the news for the ‘physical transformation’ that they undertake, for specific roles.

The transformations that they undergo form a significant portion of ‘behind-the-scenes’ or ‘making of the movie’ videos. But that’s for the production houses and their marketing.

How can a fitness brand leverage an actor’s journey to fitness?

KABIR AND BEYOND | Hrithik Roshan's Transformation | The HRX Story

HRX is actor Hrithik Roshan’s own fitness brand specializing in gym clothes and accessories. Lately, the brand is expanding into workouts, too. Kabir and Beyond by HRX traces the actor’s journey from one role to another as he gets up after a complicated surgery.

The idea behind the video is of course inspired by Roshan’s indomitable spirit and is in line with the brand’s ethos. But what catches the eye about the actor’s painful journey is his interpretation of fitness. It is typified as being the best version of oneself which is also HRX’s tagline.

Furthermore, his transformation/fitness video is not concerned with achieving a particular shape or shedding multiple kilograms to chisel one’s body.

The video attempts to look at fitness through the lens of self-exploration. Fitness in Kabir and Beyond is about a journey to explore oneself and one’s potential. And while being in shape is a prerequisite for him as an actor, Roshan is not trying to fulfil a requirement but rather achieve something that he has decided for himself. His journey to fitness is more like a conquest of the self.

Thus, being decisive about one’s body and the potential itself is a new meaning of fitness that emerges from HRX’s branded content.


Although still in the early stages of definition and conceptualisation, the new effort is towards changing the meaning of fitness from referring to a particular body shape or ratio. It is a more spiritual and holistic sort of a process where an individual is empowered to decide for themselves - both the goal and route to that goal. The goal could be as simple as replacing butter with peanut butter or overcoming a painful surgery/injury.

To conclude, the meaning of fitness is being democratised and the prevalent standards of fitness are being challenged in the process. Interestingly, this redefinition is also being done, using the very people, viz movie stars,  who until now have been used to perpetuate the said standards!