A look at Hyderabad-based Cykul’s StepUp Stair Climbing Challenge

Representative image of a person taking the stairs

Representative image of a person taking the stairs   | Photo Credit: Pixabay Images

The fitness organisation bats for people prioritising their fitness routine by having them choose the stairs, whenever possible

If you have ever been at Raidurg MetroRail station, you would have noticed the brightly-coloured stairs, each one sporting a bright strip of colour with a calorie count on it. This is one of the government’s attempts to get people off the elevator and escalator (unless absolutely necessary) and take the stairs as part of their commutes.

One of the people who champions these kinds of efforts is Deenanath Harapanahalli, founder of Cykul, a city-based sports and fitness organisation for the everyday Hyderabadi. The organisation recently launched StepUp - Stair Climbing Challenge. The joint physical-digital (phy-di) league between HYSEA (Hyderabad Software Engineers Association) and various government agencies encourages people to take charge of their routine with the help of data. Who says you cannot be fit both offline and online?

Deenanath is excited about the fact that there are 10,000-plus people per week participating in this challenge, available through the Life Cykul app. “Our aim is to do a million steps! Maybe we’ll get to a billion at some point too,” laughs the sports lover, explaining that there was a business strategy in StepUp as well. “The market needed something like this; our cycling programmes had been going well but it’s a limited market and we wanted to expand into other sports.”

Most of Cykul’s demographic is the corporate sector, people who find themselves deskbound and in need of a push-up or two to feel healthy and fit. Cykul understood that they needed something which people could commit to on their own time. “So we started introducing a whole category of what we call as workplace leagues or workplace sports, and these are the activities that people can enjoy interactively. These are not your typical ‘sporty sports’ but with newer technologies it is possible to initiate challenges like this.

Screenshot of the StepUp – Stair Climbing Challenge from the Life Cykul app

Screenshot of the StepUp – Stair Climbing Challenge from the Life Cykul app  

The StepUp challenge relies on scan cards installed on each floor of a building which participants need to scan before scaling the stairs, and once they stop at the last floor of their ‘journey’, they simply scan their cards. Unlike a smartwatch or smartphone, this reads more accurately, claims Deenanath, because wearables register steps and stair counts incorrectly.

That said, gamified data is a big part of Cykul’s USP. “We capture the data of their walking and then every day there is, in real-time, a leader board that says, you know, who is walking, how long and the whole metric system gives implication of rewards and all that.” And, of course, the StepUp challenge is a little incentivised with virtual certificates in the app. Cykul has been approached by supermarket and dining vendors to partner up and even get some coupons going once people reach a certain milestone.

Picking up interest

What does it take to bring a challenge like this to reality? Deenanath recalls the research stage which helped Cykul narrow their focus. “In high-density corporate office areas, techies often crowded around elevators, regardless of whether the elevator went in the wrong direction first! So we observed that there was huge potential for energy savings; lifts account for 8 to 12% of a building’s electricity costs. Elevators also take, on average, 15 to 30 minutes of waiting time out of an employee’s day — both inside and outside the elevator itself. We also observed that everyone can use a little extra exercise whatever their routine.”

Cykul even spoke with the Telangana state’s electricity department, talking about the lakhs that could be saved if people preferred taking the stairs where possible. The potential for StepUp to be scaled to residential areas is also high, agrees Deenanath. He is particularly looking forward to the impact of the summer season during which elevator-use will be much higher across the city.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 3:30:00 PM |

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