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Fitt Insider Debrief: Gyms are Back, Fitness Creators Scale Up, High-Performance Health Takes Hold

Welcome to the Fitt Insider Weekly Debrief. Every weekend, we compile the top stories impacting the business of fitness and wellness from the past week.

Here’s what you need to know for November 14, 2021:

  • Xponential Fitness CEO: “Gyms are back!”
  • Fitness creator platform Talent Hack raises $17M
  • Viome and Signos secure funding as high-performance health takes hold

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Xponential Flexes

The fitness industry is in flux. As exercise seekers choose between working out at home or in person, gyms and equipment makers are along for the ride.

The headline of recent weeks, Peloton’s pandemic bubble popped on a less-than-stellar earnings report. In the fallout, the company shed more than $10B in market cap. Meanwhile, Planet Fitness beat earnings and revenue estimates, as memberships approached pre-pandemic levels.

“Grand reopening.” More positive news for in-person operators, Xponential Fitness posted strong results for Q3 2021.

  • Revenue grew 60% YoY to $40.9M.
  • North American system-wide sales were up 93% YoY to $192.4M.
  • Brands in its portfolio opened 68 new studios, reaching 1,907 total studios.
  • It increased its fiscal 2021 outlook, raising expectations for sales, revenue, and new studio openings.

On the news, Xponential CEO Anthony Geisler added:

“Brick-and-mortar gyms are back… In some ways, you can say that this past quarter was the grand reopening of the global fitness industry.”

Inside the call. A holding company of boutique fitness brands, Xponential owns 10 concepts, including Club Pilates, Pure Barre, CycleBar, Row House, StretchLab, AKT, YogaSix, Rumble, STRIDE, and BFT.

On its latest earnings call, the company laid out its strategy for future growth, including:

Digital. Boosting its at-home offering, known as “GO,” Xponential launched and upgraded its production studio. The company has started bundling the digital/studio membership, granting members access to a library of 2,700 on-demand workouts.

All-access. A passport to participating studios, Xponential has been testing an XPASS. Reaching 1,400 studios across 48 US states, 80% of franchisees have adopted the pass. Next, the company aims to roll out XPASS across North America.

International. Going global, Xponential has over 1,000 studios open or obligated to open around the world.

Partnerships. Xponential Fitness is set to open boutique studios inside LA Fitness and City Sports Club locations, with a minimum commitment of 350 franchise locations over five years.

Punchline: While Planet Fitness and Xponential bode well for gyms, at-home fitness is here to stay. With more options than ever, the competition for the fitness consumer is just beginning, and greater exposure may be a key to winning.

Talent Hack Scales Up

Talent Hack, a platform empowering fitness creators to run a digital business, raised $17M in a Series A round led by Emergence Capital, with participation from Global Founders Capital.

While not the first creator-focused software to market, the well-funded, Latina-led startup is setting itself apart.

Business 101. Talent Hack’s platform provides payment processing, live-streaming, content hosting, email automations, and CRM to allow trainers, instructors, and creators to run a successful digital business.

Capable of hosting domains or embedding into creators’ existing websites, the software aims to be a seamless integration that lowers the learning curve on digital fitness tech.

Joining the rebellion. Talent Hack isn’t the only platform to realize the collective strength of independent fitness creators. As we covered in Issue No. 100, Arming the Rebels, startups taking a Shopify-like approach to instructors and fitness professionals are redefining fitness.

  • A “Patreon for fitness” model, Playbook secured $3M seed and $9.3M Series A rounds, both in 2020.
  • Moxie, a platform for fitness instructors to host live/on-demand classes, raised $2.1M in a 2020 seed round, followed by $6.3M follow-on in April 2021.
  • Connecting globally, MyYogaTeacher ($4M)—a platform connecting users to Indian yoga practitioners—and Denmark’s Lenus ($57M) have proven borderless scalability.
  • Elsewhere, Superset ($1.5M)*, Salut ($1.25M), Curastory (2.1M), and Sutra (undisclosed) unlock high-quality on-demand and streaming video.

Takeaway: Even as gyms bounce back, trainers and fitness creators who have carved out lucrative digital businesses are unlikely to yield back their power and influence. Instead, brick-and-mortars gyms will be forced to compete—or partner—with the creator class.

High-Performance Health Takes Hold

Health optimization has arrived. More and more, at-home test kits and biosensing wearables are replacing trips to the doctor’s office.

The big picture: As this trend continues, high-performance health promises to redefine the future of well-being.

Zooming in: This week, Viome and Signos scored new funding, representing two pillars of the high-performance health movement.

Longevity. Viome Life Sciences raised $54M in Series C funding to diagnose and treat cancer and chronic disease. Best known for at-home diagnostic kits, Viome is doubling down on longevity to extend the healthy, human lifespan.

As we detailed in Issue No. 147, The Quest to Live Forever, experts predict more than $127B up for grabs — and entrepreneurs and investors are rolling up their sleeves.

  • David Sinclair and Peter Attia, both giants in the aging space, will be co-chairing a $200M biotech SPAC, Frontier Acquisition Corp., to acquire promising longevity startups.
  • SENS Research Foundation recently received the largest cryptocurrency donation in history ($27M) to support R&D for aging therapies.
  • Google-backed Calico Labs renewed its $1B partnership with AbbVie to continue R&D efforts into the underlying biology of aging.
  • Altos Labs, a new anti-aging research company, recently launched with backing from the world’s wealthiest, including Jeff Bezos and Yuri Milner.

Metabolic health. Signos secured $13M in a Series A funding round to scale up its glucose monitoring platform. Combining a continuous glucose monitor with an AI-powered app, Signos helps users determine what and when to eat for optimal health.

A topic we’ve covered extensively, glucose monitoring is going mainstream.

  • Biolinq secured $100M in funding to accelerate development of its wearable, noninvasive, glucose-monitoring patch.
  • Levels ($12M), GraphWare ($20.5M), Supersapiens ($13.5M), January AI ($8.8M), and Veri ($4M) have recently secured funding.
  • Apple has long been rumored to be adding glucose tracking to its smartwatch.

Zooming out: Be ready. From preventative MRIs, smart toilets, breath- and saliva-based diagnostics, and ambient sensors, the next wave of high-performance health has already arrived.

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