Flexia, creators of a connected Pilates reformer, secured $4M in a seed round led by ADvantage, with participation from Phoenix Capital Ventures, Techstars, and Calm Ventures.
The recent launch and new funding follow its completion of the Techstars Sports Accelerator — just as Pilates is heating up.
Not Your Average Joe
When Joseph Pilates created his signature program in the 1920s, he likely never imagined that a reformer would be using artificial intelligence to correct form.
Flexia’s wood-framed reformer comes affixed with multiple sensors, with AI providing real-time feedback and personalized recommendations based on users’ goals. Coupled with on-demand content, the company aims to recreate the studio experience in the home.
Bringing Pilates into its next generation, the rep-counting and form-tracking sensors also add a quantifiable element the workout has historically been missing.
In a conversation with Fitt Insider, founder & CEO Kaleen Canevari detailed the company’s unique approach to delivering Pilates metrics for the first time:
“Our ability to merge traditional fitness metrics that people are familiar with—like repetitions and weight—with metrics relating to flexibility, quality of movement, and control will change the way that people experience mindful movement and reconnect with their body.”
Speaking to the team’s technical capabilities as a point of differentiation, ADvantage partner and Flexia board member Alexander Bente added:
“In Flexia, we’re backing a profoundly passionate team armed with uniquely strong technical and engineering expertise, driven by a desire to create a standout user experience.”
With ebbing and flowing interest for the past century, the current US Pilates market has surged to 10M dedicated practitioners. And demand for Pilates content and classes has reached a crescendo.
- Garmin’s fastest-growing activity in 2021 was Pilates, with logged workouts growing 108.3% YoY.
- Last year, Xponential-owned Club Pilates opened its 700th franchise location.
- ClassPass data revealed Pilates was the fourth-most popular class format in 2021 while becoming the top class for those seeking calming and restorative classes.
Perhaps explaining the trend, Americans’ motivations for exercise are becoming more mental/emotional than physical. Seeking workouts that restore and refresh, exercisers have sought out Pilates—which combines elements of yoga, mindfulness, and resistance training—en masse.
And operators across the fitness industry’s omnichannel have answered in turn.
Smart springs. Following the Peloton of ‘X’ model, connected fitness upstarts have raced their reformers to market.
- At-home reformer maker Frame Fitness landed $5M in a round led by 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov.
- LIT Method, studio operator and makers of a rower/reformer hybrid machine, is scaling its at-home business after raising funding from Jay-Z’s Marcy Venture Partners.
- This January, Reform RX began taking pre-orders for its connected Pilates machine.
- San Francisco-based somato, makers of a lightweight, foldable connected reformer, is in beta.
All aboard. Not to be left behind, the biggest players are piecing together their hybrid offerings, even without the hardware.
- In November 2020, Equinox+ started offering classes from [solidcore].
- In late 2021, F45 Training launched a yoga-reformer Pilates mashup class called FS8, then acquired Aussie omnichannel operator Vive Active to support it digitally.
- Last September, Apple Fitness+ debuted its Pilates digital programming.
Punchline: Beyond cardio equipment and smart bikes, connected fitness is remaking every exercise modality. And Pilates is a category ripe for disruption.