#149: Sam Cole, Co-founder & CEO of FitXR

Today, I’m joined by Sam Cole, co-founder & CEO of FitXR, a developer of VR and AR fitness apps.

FitXR’s software platform crosses the experiences of group fitness and virtual reality gaming. Developed for Meta Quest (and soon, Playstation), its multiplayer gameplay regularly adds content from instructors, virtual venues, music, and classes for dance, boxing, and HIIT workouts.

In this episode, Sam talks about making fitness fun and accessible for more people. We discuss the acceleration of virtual and augmented reality hardware, and we explore the future of omnichannel fitness, where immersive technology transforms at-home, in-person, and outdoor exercise.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How FitXR has uniquely positioned its product to serve the widest audience of fitness enthusiasts
  • The pros and cons of producing your own connected fitness hardware
  • Why FitXR’s adoption & usage rates have increased as other in-home fitness companies’ rates have declined post-pandemic

Links & Resources

Sam’s Links

Episode Transcript

This is a machine-generated transcript. Please excuse any errors.

[00:00:00] Sam:
We’re able to serve a super-wide audience of people across all different ranges of fitness abilities. A big chunk of our audience—approximately a third of them in total—report not being active in any form before using FitXR.

What gives us such pride to serve that audience is because we’re able to have such an outsized impact in that space, because they really haven’t found any connection with fitness or fitness products before.

[00:00:32] Joe:
Welcome back to the Fitt Insider podcast. I’m your host, Joe Vennare.

Today I’m joined by Sam Cole, Co-founder and CEO of FitXR, a developer of VR and AR fitness apps.

In this episode Sam talks about making fitness fun and accessible for more people. We discuss the acceleration of virtual and augmented reality hardware, and we explore the future of omnichannel fitness, where immersive technology transforms at-home, in-person, and outdoor exercise.

Let’s get into it.

Sam, welcome to Fitt Insider. Thanks for joining us.

[00:00:59] Sam:
Thanks a lot, Joe. Great to be back and talking to you.

[00:01:02] Joe:
Yeah, I should say welcome back. There’s an earlier episode—we’ll put it in the show notes if folks want to reference that—but I’d like to start off by just saying what’s the quick introduction for yourself and then FitXR, and then we’ll pick up where we left off a little bit from the previous conversation.

[00:01:22] Sam:
Yeah, I’m Sam Cole, Co-founder and CEO of FitXR. We’ve been working in the immersive fitness space for six years now. As a company, we’re on a mission to create a movement for movement. We really feel like we’re uniquely positioned to serve more customers globally than any other fitness company in the world.

With unique content displayed via immersive technologies—primarily virtual reality, but I’m sure we’ll touch on the shift to mixed reality—we can position content that serves a super-wide audience, and do so today with the headsets that we’re selling currently.

[00:01:55] Joe:
Yeah, it’s really exciting, both from the evolution of the available technology to the hardware. Like you said, maybe what’s coming in terms of mixed reality, and also this concept of how do you take and broaden what is fitness, and who is somebody who’s a fitness seeker, and what does that look like?

I know it’s something I personally think about often, because I come to not only the industry, but my personal experience with exercises, both from performance, from athletics, but also then just like strength training and very traditional. I think about often, and we’ve talked about this a number of times, both on the podcast and offline, what about all of the people who either that doesn’t resonate with, or they haven’t found that effective.

And how do we crack that code for getting more people interested and engaged in sustaining exercise habits? I’m sure this is the foundation very much of the company that you’re building, but how do you think about that now, and what is the current state of engaging this untapped audience?

[00:03:07] Sam:
Yeah. So I think for us, if we go back a step to fully answer the question we started, you know, Six years ago, primarily serving, the early adopters of virtual reality. And those were primarily people who had bought headsets to game. And, initially there was a lot of doubt about whether we would be able to serve that audience, a lot of people didn’t think that they would be interested in in fitness products. A lot of people think of gamers as, as kind of largely sedentary people. And what we found was that was fundamentally not true. and what, we’re really proud of today as, as you know, roll forward. Six years that we’re able to serve a super wide audience of people across all different ranges of fitness abilities.

And so one of the things that we are really proud of and excited about is a big chunk of our audience, approximately a third of, them in total report, not being active, in any form before using FitXR. and, I think that, what, what gives us such pride to serve that audience is because we’re able to have such an outsized impact in that space because they really haven’t found any connection with fitness or fitness products before. And this kind of ties back to why we think we’re uniquely positioned to serve the widest audience of, of any kind of fitness company, because we can also serve people who do have a really existing and, and healthy relationship with fitness, perhaps like yourself. and I think as, as the hardware evolves and we’re able to expand the modalities that we support, we feel like we’re even gonna be bitter able to serve both people who have had a tough time with fitness.

And maybe haven’t found that connection before, but equally people. Who have, you know, always had a healthy relationship with, with fitness and staying, staying healthy and active.

[00:04:37] Joe:
Yeah. And in terms of a appealing to. That audience, like you said, initially, it’s like, okay, well, who even knows what virtual reality is, who has a headset who’s willing to do it. And there’s, there’s this like kind of idea of, you know, in some ways thinking the technology would be further ahead the, the adoption, the, the capabilities, the features, whatever, then it is now.

But then on the other side of that, it. Well, it’s actually growing very quickly and it’s growing, especially during COVID and just in terms of who has these devices and why they have them, how has that changed your approach to like engaging consumers from the onset? Is it a matter of like first we have to go out and we have to convince them to get a headset?

Or is it like, oh no, let’s try to appeal to people who already already have the hardware. Like at what point do you kind of break those down as you think about those personas and then how you engage people?

[00:05:33] Sam:
I think in the early stages, we were definitely focused on serving people who already had a headset. and that’s why in the initial stages, we were primarily focused on people who had purchased a headset for, to use it as a gaming console. What changed was around the time of the arrival of standalone headsets.

And the quest two, which was launched by meta around the same time as the pandemic. So these two effects for us were really difficult to pull apart and, and separate because they both compounded at the same time. but we started to see. The technology reached a point where it was much more accessible to a wider audience. these headsets are priced at $300. they’re very intuitive and easy to use And, and for the first time we started seeing, a type of consumer come in And, buy a headset who only wanted to use it as a fitness device. and I think that that was, that was our whole thesis from the very beginning that once the technology became more accessible, that we would find, you know, a mass more mass market consumer that wanted to engage.

And I think we’re still on a journey here. Right? As that continues. but I think it talks some of the platforms by surprise. and that’s why you saw, you know, platforms like meta, for example, starting to really focus on fitness as an important use case for them. And, and now they think of fitness on the same kind of priority level as gaming or productivity.

So it’s a, it’s a major use case for driving for the adoption of this technology. and again, we’re really proud as a company to have played a pivotal role in, in starting to prove that out that virtual reality could be more than just gaming. And in fact, there, there was a group of customers and a sizeable chunk of customers who were gonna buy headsets to use them as, pieces of fitness equipment, first and foremost.

[00:07:06] Joe:
With that, you know, on the hardware side, obviously. You know, kind of meta accelerating this adoption in some ways kind of monopolizing the, the existing hardware right now. Compare that to what has kind of happened in the connected fitness industry with hardware makers, you know, the whole kind of focus being like we need to somehow vertically integrate this.

We need to own as much of this as possible from the content side to the, the software, the talent, the hardware. How have you navigated this like idea of, Hey, we’re essentially building. A product on somebody else’s platform or a number of different platforms, the risk versus reward in doing that. And potentially how that evolves as you get different companies, maybe an apple or whoever else. Introducing new products.

[00:07:52] Sam:
Yeah. So I think firstly, I think the market from a VR headset perspective is gonna get a lot more fragmented next year. so you know, there’s a lot of rumors about apple entering the space. We know that PlayStation’s releasing their second headset. bite dance have also acquired a VR company called Pico and, plan to expand, not only an Eastern markets, but also in, into, into Europe. And so I think the market’s gonna become more fragmented than what it’s now. but I also think for. I mean, there’s been a lot of change in the venture capital industry at large, based on what’s been happening in public markets, over the course of the last three or four months. and and, I think there was a time, in the last 18 months where connected fitness was really at an all time high.

And there was a lot of excitement around these kind of combined hardware, software plays. but ultimately those are, those are difficult businesses and highly capital intensive businesses. And I think where we feel right now is, you know, there’s obviously pros and cons to to working on someone else’s hardware. but we feel like. You know, we’re in a position right now where as a company, we’re on a path to profitability, we haven’t had to raise huge amounts of venture capital to get there. We’ve got one of the biggest teams operating in virtual reality, more broadly, close to a hundred people. and so we really feel like that.

You know, at least at the moment, there’s a lot of benefit for doing things in a, probably a more lean and less capital manner.

[00:09:08] Joe:
When you are doing and producing the content right from like the, the fitness perspective and thinking about it. and you can kind of talk about how you think about it in terms of, is this a virtuality company? Is it a fitness company? How do you, you know, merge in both of those things, right. To accomplish in some respects, you have to do both and understand both and

[00:09:29] Sam:
Yeah.

[00:09:30] Joe:
Both.

But, obviously the, the focus being around fitness and getting people moving. Do you know, as you talk about, you know, the, the industry around hardware becoming more fragmented, or is it even possible to know at this point, like how you have to produce content for those different platforms? You know, are they sitting there saying like, oh, we want it done in a certain way, or we expect it done that in a way that’s different than Oculus, or is it fairly similar across those different platforms?

It doesn’t require kind of much differentiation from what you’re already.

[00:09:59] Sam:
Yeah, it’s an, it’s an interesting question. I think from the like dance, the first part, I think we see ourselves as a, as a fitness company first and foremost, we probably think of ourselves as straddling that fitness to entertainment. Barrier, probably more than like, I think we see ourselves as an immersive technology company or powered by immersive technology across the board.

And we’ve from the very beginning. In fact, it’s kind of in our name, FitXR standing for the XR component, standing for extended realities, a nod to the fact that we really see ourselves operating across the entire virtual reality to augmented reality spectrum. but yeah, I think in terms of your, you know, your question around, do the platforms play a pivotal role in kind of guiding what sort of content?

Not really. I think they, they do from the perspective of, as they release hardware updates, it enables us to adapt to those hardware updates. So one thing that we are really excited about is, and something that you’ll see coming towards the end of this year, and be very dominant, in the space next year, is this move to mixed reality headsets. And I think we talked about it in the in the, in the last episode, but mixed reality for us is a, is a massive unlock in terms of the number of modalities we’re able to support. We already support more modalities than any other immersive fitness company. So we have boxing dance and high intensity into full training, and we’ll be releasing more modalities before the end of this year.

But. Mixed reality is, is really impactful with the ability to be able to interact with the floor, but also, you know, your, your general surroundings, including being able to interact with, different pieces of fitness equipment, whether those are kettle bells, dumbbells, or, or spin bikes or climbers.

And so for us, we think that’s this huge unlock, particularly to be able to serve. Probably, you know, when we go back to that audience, go back to that audience of people who are physically active before, but we think there’s a load of really interesting partnership opportunities for us to, to work with here, where we can again, take our approach of not having to own the, the entire stack, but rather come in and say, Hey, you know, we think we can provide amazing immersive, content to work on top of this existing machine.

Just to further enhance this at home offer.

[00:12:00] Joe:
Yeah, it’s a huge, obviously you have to see how things play out and where the different technologies land. But even to this point, you know, the experience from. Six years ago to now what you’re able to do. And like you said, interacting with the, the space around you, interacting potentially with other people, pieces of equipment, improving the modalities.

There’s that whole aspect from like the kind of fitness standpoint, the modality standpoint, and even people, companies rather who are building, if they have a piece of equipment or just a digital app or most have both, They’re kind of saying like, Hey, you have to provide all the different modalities because consumers want that variety.

They want to be able to experience different instructors and different workout types and, you know, kind of have their pick. But then there’s the other kind of piece of that, which is the incentives and human behavior of like, how do you get people to continue coming back? Right? How do you engage them?

What. The gamification look like, what do the incentives and rewards look like? I think this is something that is obviously of interest to me and anybody in the fitness industry, because when you think about brick and mortar locations, like part of the problem is, well, the traditional gym is kind of set up in the way, like they don’t really care if you come or not.

You know, they, you know, if you’re paying the membership, great, if you’re coming that’s even better and they can upsell you so on and so forth.

[00:13:25] Sam:
Just as long as you’re not coming at the busy times, right?

[00:13:27] Joe:
Yeah.

[00:13:27] Sam:
Yeah.

[00:13:28] Joe:
Right. As long as everybody’s not coming at the same time,

[00:13:31] Sam:
Yeah.

[00:13:31] Joe:
That’s good. but then there’s the other component of like solving for willpower solving for motivation solving for whatever the behavior incentives might be.

How does the kind of virtual reality world. Enable you to kind of apply different mechanisms to that. Does it give you an advantage? Are there other things that you’re kind of exploring that say, Hey, we are solving for the adherence we are solving for stickiness. We are getting people to engage more, beyond whatever modality they’re just choosing to partake in.

[00:14:03] Sam:
Yeah. So I, think on that point, I think one of the things that makes FitXR eye unique is that we build virtual first content. Entirely on it, like entirely built on a gaming engine. And what that enables us to do is, is be completely adaptive and dynamic based on how our users coming through our experience. and so what that. means with time is that. All of the incentive structures can adapt to what makes sense for you as an individual. And I, I think we’re a while away from that being, truly, truly impactful. and there’s a lot of work to be done to fully prove that out. But I, I take a lot of inspiration from, you know, I remember you telling me about your wife’s story with future, for example, and just how that accountability of a real human, has been such a powerful, motivator for her to come back.

Like she had a crazy number. Session like back to back sessions, right. She was on a crazy streak.

[00:14:57] Joe:
Still still is shout out.

[00:14:59] Sam:
Yeah.

And, and I just felt like for us and what our mission is and, and what we are focused on doing, I felt like that’s amazing. And it’s amazing to be able to do that with a real human coach, but I felt like, can you take.

80% of that and, and make that scalable to the masses. And how would that work and how would you create some kind of accountability for people, that tailored based on how they, what, what sort of customer they were and was really based on, you know, their taste and preferences and how could you, could you deliver something like that that was capable of serving, you know, a truly mass market?

And so I think there’s a lot of really unique things that can be done inside fitness. Another thing that we’ve been thinking about more recently is, is kind of how do you reimagine what fitness plans look like? Because a fitness plan just doesn’t have to be, do a than do B than do C than do D a fitness plan could be more like, like an interactive fiction game, for example, where you really are able to build. One like get to know your instructor and really build a relationship with that person. but also have the whole experience adapt based on how you’re moving through that experience. And so I get super excited about those kind of things. Cause I think you can kind of blend, personalization, dynamic and interactive behavior with this incentive structure that you’re talking about.

I think that is, is gonna be the kind of the next phase of unlock we are able to achieve here. And our mission to be able to get more people, to have a habit with fitness more broadly. Cause that’s ultimately what we’re trying to achieve, right? It’s not just making the first time someone comes into are, really amazing and getting people to go into this flow, like state who have never experienced that before with exercise.

That’s, that’s amazing to see, but we both know that in order to be truly impactful here, we need to be able to build habits around that. And so I think this is the kinda the next phase of focus for us as a company.

[00:16:45] Joe:
Yeah, it’s cool. When you’re talking about that, to think of it, just purely from a fitness perspective, it is basically structured in terms of. You know, progressive overload. And how do you factor in improvement over time and intensity and volume and all this stuff from like a, if you nerd out on the science of it, but then even if that’s not the case, you know, it’s structure around maybe collecting badges, right.

To get to different levels. But. As you were describing it, it’s almost like the hero’s journey of like, no, it’s actually like game unlocks and really building a narrative around it and potentially just like reimagining it. So it’s not fitness really in any sense, other than you’re just physically active.

[00:17:25] Sam:
Yeah, I think as well, I think again, something that you and I have talked about offline, but for so many people it’s far less about any kind of optimization of any kind of routine. It’s much more about showing up every single day and building a habit around that. And so I think that’s the that’s really, the focus for us is like, how do we, how do we get more people to have a habit with, with fitness?

I think that’s, that’s a true unlock. How do you get more people exercising regularly? I think the industry at large, the fitness industry tends to focus on. You know, the 1% use case of people who want this highly optimized routine. And there’s a lot of like sales and marketing efforts to, to really push that as a narrative.

But I think, you know, like one message that I think is, is much more relevant for the general population is just something like sweat every day, just go out and try and sweat every day. And, and I think. the more people that are able to do that. You know, when we see obesity and, and rates of sedentary, people being sedentary and you’ve reported on this extensively in the past, but when you see those things increasing, not decreasing and most Western countries, the, the problem and the, the way to the way for companies like FitXR to have true impact is to solve that, but not just solve that on a one-off basis, right.

Solve that on a, on a habitual basis.

[00:18:35] Joe:
Yeah. And that’s. Whole thing, you know, that’s the, the contradiction of, you know, not only what I do on a daily basis, but I think the broader industry, which is like, you’re pulled in this direction, which is look at the new shiny thing. It’s so exciting. And we’re having, you know, traction and we’re making progress and people really seem to love it.

And it’s like, everybody’s getting. Every obesity, sedentary lifestyle, like all of the measures of health across the board are declining. And you’re just kind of, you have to step back and be like, you know, what are we doing?

[00:19:10] Sam:
Yeah.

[00:19:11] Joe:
Extent, then you have this. And I I’ve talked to a lot of different people in a lot of different.

You know, basically verticals of health and wellness around like, Hey, we have to reimagine it from the, ground up. We have to reimagine primary care. We have to reimagine nutrition or, you know, virtual reality gaming like fitness. And so it’s, it’s both maintaining that, that optimism while also being realistic about like, you know, how we make progress towards that.

So yeah, it’s the, you know, in my head getting pulled in two different directions at the same time.

[00:19:43] Sam:
Yeah, a hundred percent. And I think, I think the, the nutrition part that you touched on as well is obviously a massive component of this as well, particularly on an obesity front. and so I. Companies that take that same kind of approach things that I think are interesting in terms of like, how do we solve this overall overall problem statement.

But I think, you know, at least from our perspective, at the moment, we’ve viewed part as big enough of a problem for, to really focus on rather than trying to go and.

[00:20:10] Joe:
For sure. And, you know, I guess kind of changing gears down that path, when you look at, you know, obviously you talk about. Being having worked on this for six years to this point, you know, we’ve talked a number of times kind of along the way, and just even over the course of, you know, the pandemic or even the last year, what have you seen from an adoption or an engagement or a customer perspective that leads you to point to it and say like, Hey, we’re doing something right.

It’s working, we’re making progress, any way that you could, you know, kind of quantify that or, or speak to that.

[00:20:43] Sam:
So we’ve, we’ve seen revenue and, and, and members for X over the last 12 months. and I think the thing that we get most excited about actually is when we look. at our usage rates, even as the, the pandemic restrictions have eased and people have had different options in terms of how they’re exercising, we’ve seen usage increase across the platform.

And so, you know, when you’ve seen other connected fitness companies not reporting that, I think it speaks to the fact that FitXR R serves a very broad, but also a very different type of consumer. So a lot of our customers have never felt at home inside a gym. And so then when Jim’s reopened, it was kind of irrelevant for. equally our customers who do have gym memberships, I think find are to be the most fun part of their at home routine. And it’s so easy for them to come back to and so enjoyable for them to do so. Again, it doesn’t really compete. it’s a, it’s an additive part of their overall routine. And so again, when gyms have come online, we haven’t felt that same pullback, that some of you know, the, players in the broader space have.

[00:21:41] Joe:
There’s also the, the element of, and I’ve talked to a couple different operators about this, like. If there’s one thing that can’t be replicated in the gym or studio setting, it’s gonna be VR, you know? So like you said, it might be the most fun part of their at home routine, but it’s also the thing that even if they wanted to do it somewhere else, they couldn’t do it.

Whereas I know a ton of people who, from the consumer perspective, like they maybe bought a Peloton or, you know, whatever bike during the pandemic to. Be a stand in for their spin class because they love spin class and yes, they are now supplementing that routine with their at home piece of equipment.

But they’re also going back to the spin class because that’s the thing that they were trying to replicate in the first place.

[00:22:24] Sam:
Percent.

[00:22:25] Joe:
So when it comes to differentiation and being able to build something that is, you know, totally immersive and provides this fun element and engagement, but also that you just can’t go down the street and do, that’s obviously an added benefit.

[00:22:39] Sam:
Completely. And I think the one other thing here is that, like, what I’ve found personally is as I’ve started traveling again, you know, it’s been so easy for me to have. The headset and travel with the headset, if that’s in a carry on amongst other like, other clothes. And so it’s so easy to be in a hotel room and not have to go down to the gym, but rather be able to just Chuck the headset on it and work out in a hotel room.

[00:22:59] Joe:
When you think about now, obviously the pandemic being an isolated, hopefully, circumstance. Yeah. Fingers crossed where we’re coming back. Now we’re seeing gyms reopen. We had the peak of at home during that time. And it’s, it’s kind of very telling now what’s happening from like the shifting consumer perspective.

But when you get down to it, like, Do you think about, oh, this is how the, the hybrid or omnichannel is going to play out and, you know, looking at your consumers and saying like, are they choosing to go back to the gym? Are they not, are they sticking around? How often or ultimately do you just think like, Hey, we need to provide the best experience and they’re gonna supplement that.

However, they choose to how big of a factor is this kind of future of hybrid omnichannel to you and FitXR?

[00:23:47] Sam:
I think we, we probably had two beliefs that from the very beginning that relate to this. So the first belief is that we should be an open. And so if people and, and many of our team are like this, right, if they wanted to go for a run one day and then go to the gym the next day, and then use FitXR on the third day, we were completely fine with that.

In fact, as long as people were exercising and active, we thought that was great overall. But what we would love to be able to do is be able to have data from those various touch points outside of FitXR to be able to build a better and more personalized are experience when they come in to have that, I think the other factor here is that we’ve always believed that as this scales over time, and as you move to mixed reality and augmented reality, truly becoming unlocked, that you could serve customers not only at home, but also in the gym and outdoors. and so I think that the idea of using VR headsets, whether those are provided by the by the fitness cardboard gym, or whether those are the individuals that they’re bringing along. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there because I feel like. Fitness clubs and gyms will continue to invest in the latest and greatest technology.

They will continue to be able to, You know, house big pieces of equipment that aren’t able to be housed in people’s homes. and so I think being able to work with that, is, is really interesting. In fact, one of the key catalysts for me setting up FitXR in the very beginning was I I was, I was in a 24, 7 waits room of a gym, and I remember people walking around and everyone had headphones in and I was.

You wouldn’t describe this as people augmenting their reality, but they are, augmenting their hearing in a sense they’re bringing in music to, to enhance the experience. And so I felt like once augmented reality glasses were a thing and we believe And believe then, and believe now that they will be the next computing platform after the smartphone. once that happens, you could imagine that entire space being transformed. And so I think those kind of, unlocks or hybrid experiences are, are definitely on the cards. I just think we need the, the underlying hardware to, to unlock that for us. And we’re probably a few years away before that’s fully possible.

Although this moves to mixed reality headsets next year, we’ll, we’ll start to make some of these use cases that we’ve been talking about here. certainly possible.

[00:25:54] Joe:
Yeah. It’s it’s. To take a step back and think as the broader industry and even like headlines about oh, hybrid workouts and omnichannel fitness, and are people going to the gym? Are they working out at home and how companies are tackling that? And. Nobody, at least to my knowledge is talking about it from like, Hey, what are the computing platforms?

And how does that overlay wherever you are. And then what does that look like in terms of how people are interacting with different hardware, software, headsets, you know, whether that’s classes or contact lenses or their, you know, holding up their phone, for that, you know, Pokemon go experience like applying that to.

The gym, the studio at home outdoors that creates a truly, you know, omnipresent omnichannel

[00:26:44] Sam:
Percent.

[00:26:45] Joe:
And yeah, while it might be a little bit of time until that the technology, right. Is there, you know, you don’t wanna say futuristic in the way that it, you know, flying cars and whether or not we get there, but certainly holds a lot of potential for, you know, how we interact with the environment as it relates to fitness.

[00:27:02] Sam:
Hundred percent. And I think about this as all just, content layers that can guide and enhance, and motivate people to work out. And those content layers can be entirely tailored and, and personalized to you as an individual. So you might really respond to the, kind of the Pokemon reference that we talked about before, and that might like, that might follow you everywhere.

Right? So that imagine when you’re going for a run, it’s like, about that experience. It’s, it’s integrated with like Pokemon IP or whatever that looks like, but also you could be guided when you’re in, when you’re in the weights room, it could be the same thing. and so I think about all of.

Different content layers or visual layers sitting on top of some kind of infrastructure that is connected to whether that is the equipment that you’re in or the room that, that you’re in right now, or the outside space that you, you know, that you are standing in. And I think being able to adapt, based on that I think is, is super cool. that’s the reason why we started building this in the first place. And, and that’s what we want to get towards.

[00:27:58] Joe:
You’re playing the, the super long game as it continues to evolve. And we see how everything shakes out. can I. Looking ahead as we get towards the end of the conversation here talked about a lot from not only the growth of the broader industry, but FitXR, and certainly now kind of a little bit of a wait and see game in terms of how quickly that other technology hardware develops.

Keeping that in mind. And, you know, obviously you’re keeping an eye on it as well. what are the things that we should look out for call it through the end of the year? that’s on the roadmap that you’re talking to the team about, you’re excited about. and anything that you know, wouldn’t give away too much that you’re not ready to reveal just yet, but what’s, what are the things that you’re excited about?

And we should look forward.

[00:28:44] Sam:
Yeah. So one of the things that we just rolled out recently, which I think is, is worth talking about here is our, tie up with meta avatars. and so from the very beginning, we’ve, we’ve wanted to bring in social as a, as a key pillar of how we build our experiences. And so when you.

We’re inside. FitXR whether you were doing a live or an on-demand class, you were always surrounded by people who had done that class. Either. They’re doing it with you in the very moment, or they had done it on an on-demand basis as well. And now those people are represented by their meta avatar. So they, you really get this human presence feeling there.

It really feels like you’re in the same space as people. So whether you wanna work on a group or you don’t, you know, the, the choice is yours there. And that was because when we were doing a lot of group fitness classes ourselves, We found like exercising in a group is such a powerfully motivating factor.

We really wanted to, bring that into our product experience. So that’s worth checking out if you haven’t. you know, if you haven’t seen that before, the other things that we’re really excited about is just more modality releases, like I mentioned before. So there’s. There’s gonna be hopefully three of those coming before the end of the year.

We’re really excited to, to showcase, some of the work that we’ve been doing there and also this move to mixed reality. so some of those mixed reality headsets are gonna be releasing like this year, early next year. we’re really excited to showcase again, what is possible from a fitness perspective with those devices.

And we. think that fitness will be a major use. those devices are primarily thought of as, as driving kind of enterprise or productivity use cases. So people can work in them, but we think is gonna use case there. Like it has been proven out to be a use case, virtual reality standalone headset that we.

[00:30:18] Joe:
And then maybe one more question. Before we wrap up, you know, we talked about. The kind of connected fitness industry, and they’re obviously being kind of a pullback or slowdown. You see companies making layoffs, you see companies correcting course in terms of, cutting costs, restructuring. and you mentioned earlier being on a path to profitability, having not had to, to this point, raise an exorbitant amount of money to fund what you’re doing.

What are your conversations like? Whether it’s with just the broader folks in the market or potential investors or existing investors. Right. As you’re saying, like, This is the progress we’re making. This is where we see the industry going, trust us, right. Stay on this journey with us and don’t get distracted by what you’re seeing, right.

In this kind of broader fitness technology market. Has that been an issue? You know, folks kind of pointing to that and saying like, Hey, what about all this over here? Or have you been able to kind of stay above the fray in those conversations?

[00:31:11] Sam:
Throughout our, our life cycle sometimes it’s worked against us. Sometimes it’s worked for us. We’ve always kind of been seen as, outliers compared to the wider fitness industry as a whole, just because what we were doing was so centered around immersive technologies. and so I, think from a pure investment perspective, as there’s been a lot more excitement about, we now seem to be, you know, you mentioned this really early on. There’s kind of been the feeling of this false start around virtual reality. technology because it was so hyped up in 2015 and 2016, and then there were really hard technical problems to solve, to make it accessible and, intuitive enough for people to use.

And I, I feel like once those standalone headsets were released, it then came about making sure that we were able to, to drive awareness of the use cases like fitness, that people were able to access there. And I feel like we’ve made great grounds over the past 18 months, and that’s just gonna continue, especially into, into 2023.

So, yeah, that’s how I, I would kind of think about that.

[00:32:06] Joe:
Yeah. I think as the technology and hardware continues to evolve, as the use cases evolve—fitness being one of the primary or standout successes over the last couple years, especially—you guys are well positioned to continue to dictate what that looks like going forward. It’ll be exciting, certainly, to keep tabs on that.

Also, it was great to catch up a little bit here today and get that update of what it actually looks like and where you see things going. I think it’s a unique perspective, certainly in the broader landscape.

So yeah, in wrapping up, we’ll get you outta here on this plug for FitXR: where should people check it out, and what’s the best way to get introduced to it if they’re not, or how do they get involved?

[00:32:54] Sam:
The best way to find out more is at FitXR.com. But FitXR, and really any virtual reality experience is so experiential, that I really encourage people to try it as well.

There’s a number of places where people can try it. Most electronic stores that stock VR headsets, you’ll be able to give it a go. We’re also seeing a lot of people who are really proud ambassadors of FitXR and community members really shout from the rooftops about how amazing their journeys have been. That’s been a massive channel for us, and something we’re trying to amplify as well.

[00:33:24] Joe:
Awesome. Yeah, I definitely encourage folks to check it out. It’s one of those things you have to kind of experience it and try, to believe it or get the full feeling. So do that, otherwise we’ll definitely be following along.

Like I said, I appreciate you coming back on today. We’ll get round three on the books.

[00:33:43] Sam:
We’ll make it an annual thing, Joe.

[00:33:44] Joe:
For sure.

[00:33:45] Sam:
Awesome. Thanks a lot for having me on.

Breaking down the business of fitness and wellness

Subscribe to receive industry headlines, trend reports, and investment activity — delivered every Tuesday.

    No thanks.