Connected Rowing Heats Up

Peloton

In the connected rowing wars, it’s Hydrow vs. Peloton vs. everyone else.

What’s happening: Just weeks since Peloton opened preorders for its long-awaited connected rower, a flurry of activity suggests the category has room to grow.

  • Fiit, a UK-based digital fitness platform focusing on HIIT workouts, partnered with Concept2, syncing the brand’s connected rower to content and leaderboards.
  • UK-based studio concept ROWBOTS merged with Rowcave, an immersive rowing product with esports ambitions.
  • Ergatta started presales for its gamified rowing machine in the UK and Ireland.
  • Israel-based Roweron opened its waitlist for its hardware/software bundle transforming any erg into a connected rower.

Why it matters: Americans are largely sedentary, don’t believe they have enough time to exercise, and want a minimal effective dose for staying fit. Highly efficient, rowing workouts engage 86% of the muscles in the body in a 20-minute workout.

Now, industry incumbents are using Peloton Row’s hype to their advantage — something Hydrow CEO Bruce Smith calls healthy competition.

Erg-to-erg

In February, on the Fitt Insider Podcast, Bruce Smith called a stationary exercise bike “a really hard thing to sell.”

Now, with Peloton becoming an even bigger rival, he’s doubling down, saying “rowing is going to replace indoor cycling as exercise over the next few years,” and that he takes “full credit” for Peloton’s entrance.

Not without its own speed bumps this year, Hydrow laid off 35% of its workforce despite raising $55M in a March Series D. Boosting its product offering, it launched a smaller, cheaper rower called Wave and will delve further into circuit training and 1:1 personal coaching.

Another boost, Hydrow settled a patent infringement lawsuit with iFIT; per the agreement, iFIT must redesign its NordicTrack RW700 and RW900 rowers.

Between the lines: Peloton’s Row is $3,195 with a $44/mo. content subscription. Hydrow’s signature rower is $2,495 with a $38/mo. content subscription. For Peloton, selling a similar experience at a higher price might not go as planned.

Looking ahead: Despite being low-impact and time-efficient, most Americans aren’t familiar with rowing as a fitness routine. Between the gaming, esports, and group fitness niches of the category, everyone with a hand in the rowing wars stands to gain with a little more attention.

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