Already in 2020, there has been an endless list of new fitness and wellness companies, features, and products announced. While Peloton’s success opened the connected fitness flood gates, upgraded wearables, sleep tech, and even sex tech have emerged as the next evolution of digital health.
If you’re keeping score at home, here’s a rundown of the news and announcements to have on your radar:
The battle for your spare room
Remember when working out at home meant following along with your favorite fitness DVD? Maybe, if you were particularly ambitious, you picked up (and never used) a treadmill, weight bench, or elliptical. Now, the fitness equivalent of keeping up with the Joneses requires a spare bedroom, thousands of dollars, and multiple pieces of high-tech exercise equipment. With that, countless companies are trying to capitalize on this trend.
As we’ve previously mentioned, almost every fitness company—from Flywheel and SoulCycle to ICON (parent to NordicTrack and Free Motion), Technogym, and Life Fitness—is making a play for the at-home market. Among the established players, a few new developments have emerged.
For starters, Peloton is set to introduce a rowing machine, a new, more-affordable treadmill, and an updated monitor. Additionally, the company recently lowered the price of its digital-only subscription while also launching Fire TV and Apple Watch apps.
Meanwhile, Echelon, the mid-market competitor to Peloton, released a number of new “connected” products and on-demand content, including a treadmill, rowing machine, and a line of commercial products. Of note, the company also offers a Mirror-like competitor called Reflect, featuring streaming content and at-home instruction from celebrity trainers.
The growing number of Mirror competitors is worth exploring further. While the company was first to market, copycats have been fast to follow their lead. In addition to Echelon, China’s Fiture, Berlin-based VAHA, and San Francisco’s Pivot have similar products. But this trend isn’t limited to fitness, Samsung recently launched a vertical TV that could evolve into an interactive device.
For its part, Mirror believes it’s building “the next iPhone” capable of delivering immersive experiences across any vertical, like beauty, fashion, or telemedicine. But for now, the product itself hasn’t proven to be especially defensible.
Rounding out the fitness category, a few upstarts have entered the space. Ergatta unveiled a connected rower and “game-based platform”. MYX Fitness introduced a connected bike billed as the “Un-Peloton”. And lastly, Chinese wearable company Huami and fitness startup Studio teamed up on the Amazfit HomeStudio — an open-front treadmill and full-length display screen intended to create a personalized and immersive exercise experience.
Get your mind right
Among the new entrants to the meditation space, Core introduced a handheld device used to guide and track meditation sessions. With a built-in EEG sensor, Core can provide insights into focus and calm levels, as well as heart rate and heart rate variability, helping users track progress over time. Like Core, WAVE Meditation isn’t focused on a meditation app and content alone. The company’s vibrating pillow syncs with the beats of its music-based meditation content to create a more immersive experience.
As Mindspace and Calm have demonstrated en route to becoming a billion-dollar industry, meditation has become synonymous with sleep. Similarly, whereas initially, we pegged wearables as “activity trackers”, WHOOP, Oura Ring, and the Apple Watch are proving that “sleep” is the new “steps”. Looking ahead, a number of new product launches signal the staying power of this convergence.
New from Withings, the ScanWatch is capable of detecting sleep apnea while also tracking the length, quality, and depth of sleep. Moving beyond the wrist, a number of headbands hope to become the next frontier of sleep — see Muse S, URGONight, Ebb Therapeutics, and Philips SmartSleep Deep Sleep. However, to date, headbands haven’t quite caught on as a silver bullet sleep solution.
Say hello to sex tech
Sexual wellness has found a home as part of the broader self-care movement. In fact, the global sexual wellness marketing is expected to reach $64.6B in value by 2023. And now, sex tech is gaining traction.
As the de facto leader of the movement, Lora DiCarlo has given rise to a growing number of companies offering hands-free, high-tech, app-powered sex toys. Meanwhile, startups like Maude and Dame have co-opted the DTC playbook and design aesthetic, applying it to sex toys, lubricants, condoms, and other accessories. Then there’s Dipsea, an erotic audio app that’s branding could easily be mistaken for a meditation app. Looking ahead, sex and tech will continue to merge with wellness and self-care, reducing the stigma associated with what has traditionally been a taboo subject.
Over to you: What companies or news are you tracking across fitness and wellness tech? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org