For years, the at-home fitness space was devoid of innovation — a treadmill was a treadmill. The problem, of course, was that your cardio machine quickly turned into a drying rack.
Then in 2012, Peloton turned the direct-to-consumer fitness market upside-down. In the time since, as Peloton pulled ahead, a growing number of competitors have joined the race to reinvent the home gym.
Flash forward to the present day, and the category is transforming so quickly that it’s a challenge just to stay informed. With that in mind, we’ve compiled the “Connected Fitness Report” to keep tabs on the ever-evolving industry.
- A Category-Defining Company
- Our “Connected” Future
- The Connected Equipment Landscape
A Category-defining Company
For the foreseeable future, a concept we’re calling the Peloton of “X” will define the fitness industry.
- Pointing to Peloton’s success, would-be entrepreneurs will cite the company as the shining example of what could be.
- Investors can expect to encounter pitches with a similar refrain, “we’re like Peloton for [activity]”.
- These pitches are not unwelcome; many of those same investors are actively searching, checkbook in hand, for a fitness concept with Peloton-like potential.
Michael Farello, a managing partner at L’ Catterton—a private equity firm with a reputation for backing disruptive fitness companies like Equinox, Peloton, and ClassPass—has said as much.
Farello told Business Insider that, although the firm has invested broadly in health and wellness, they’re honing in on differentiated concepts within fitness. As more consumers seek out connected fitness experiences that provide a personalized, convenient, and efficient workout, Farello thinks the current stable of fitness startups is only the beginning.
Our “Connected” Future
There’s little doubt that connected equipment and technology-enabled workouts are the future of fitness. What’s less certain, though, is what the path between our analog existence and high-tech future holds.
Disconnected. The new breed of at-home options combine personalized instruction with elements of community, competition, and accountability in order to make workouts less boring and more effective. But, ultimately, users are alone. As an article in The Verge pointed out, “the future of fitness is together, but alone.”
Goals. As Stephen Intille, an associate professor at Northeastern University specializing in health technology, points out, these devices are largely dependent on the goals people set for themselves. Users might not see desirable results if they don’t also change their diets or sustain their exercise habits. Going beyond the bike or streaming workout, making a comprehensive lifestyle change isn’t a pillar of connected fitness — yet.
Data. Following the lead of Fitbit and the Apple Watch, connected fitness companies could partner with insurance providers, research centers, and other health-related companies, providing incentives for consumers in exchange for exercise data. Both Tonal—a tech-enabled, strength training system—and Hydrow—an indoor rowing machine with live and on-demand classes—told The Verge that they’re not actively pursuing this option but haven’t ruled it out.
Platform. While Peloton is diversifying its equipment line, with the bike, treadmill, and rumors of other devices, Mirror wants to be the hardware that serves up the best fitness experiences from studios like CorePower Yoga, Pure Barre, and Physique 57. Meanwhile, Technogym appears to be taking the middle ground, offering multiple pieces of equipment and content from various studio partners.
Zooming out. Given the speed of innovation and the rate at which new products are hitting the market, it’s easy to lose sight of how young this category really is. Peloton didn’t deliver its first bike until 2014. Prior to that, cardio equipment hadn’t evolved in decades. Now, it’s getting hard to keep up. While it’s too early to tell where we’ll end up, it’s clear that we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface.
The Connected Fitness Landscape
Peloton | Peloton offers a smart bike, treadmill, and on-demand fitness classes via its app. The company pioneered the at-home connected fitness model. What began as a solution to a demand issue for boutique fitness studios has since become the gold standard of connected equipment.
- Founded: 2012
- Funding: $994.7M
- Backers: TCV, Tiger Global, True Ventures, Wellington Management, Fidelity, NBCUniversal, Felix Capital, Winslow Capital
Tonal | By combining an interactive LED screen and electromagnetic weights with a fold-out bench and cables, Tonal has managed to pack an entire gym with an AI-powered personal trainer into a wall-mounted strength training system.
- Founded: 2015
- Funding: $90M
- Backers: L Catterton, Evolution Media, Shasta Ventures, Mayfield, Sapphire Sport
Mirror | Mirror’s sleek device beams boutique fitness classes into the home by way of a reflective display that’s actually an interactive LED screen. The company isn’t solely reliant on producing their own content; they want to be the hardware that serves up the best fitness experiences from studios like CorePower Yoga, Pure Barre, and Physique 57.
- Founded: 2016
- Funding: $40.8M
- Backers: Spark Capital, First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau, BoxGroup
Hydrow | Hydrow refers to its product as the Live Outdoor Reality (LOR)™ rower. The company’s workouts offer a live, on-river experience led by professional rowers, some of whom compete for the US national team.
- Founded: 2017
- Funding: $32.8M
- Backers: L Catterton, Rx3 Ventures, The Yard Ventures, Wheelhouse, The Raptor Group, Castor Ventures
Equinox | Equinox Group plans to offer connected equipment and streaming content for the at-home market that encompasses its portfolio of fitness brands, including a SoulCycle bike, Variis digital platform, and Precision Run treadmill.
- Launching: Spring 2020
- Funding/Backers: Equinox Fitness, a subsidiary of The Related Company, owns Equinox, PURE Yoga, Blink Fitness, Precision Run, and SoulCycle.
Technogym | The Milan-based maker of premium fitness equipment is ramping up its digital platform and smart equipment line, TECHNOGYM LIVE. After unveiling the TECHNOGYM BIKE, the company said it would introduce additional training experiences for running, bootcamp, rowing, and boxing. Worth mentioning: like Mirror, the platform will serve up content from instructors and studio partners like Rumble Boxing.
- Launching: Technogym announced its connected equipment and streaming content in partnership with “At-home 360” and its own TECHNOGYM LIVE.
- Funding/Backers: Founded in 1983, Technogym is an international supplier of technology and design-driven products. The company has a presence in over 100 countries, more than 80,000 wellness centers, and 200,000 private homes.
FightCamp | FightCamp by Hykso is bringing boxing into the home with a punching bag and mitts equipped with punch-tracking sensors to measure the count, type, speed, and “intensity” of your jabs. The company’s database of workouts and instruction is available via iOS.
- Founded: 2016
- Funding: $1.6M+
- Backers: 500 Accelerator, BCF Ventures, Panache Ventures, StreetEdge Capital, Y Combinator
Tempo | Tempo’s 3D-enabled, AI-driven strength training, HIIT, and cardio system promises the most accurate form-tracking and real-time feedback among connected fitness companies, employing live trainers that are on call to virtually assist subscribers.
- Founded: Originally founded in 2015, Tempo previously went by Pivot and SmartSpot — a 3D camera and virtual personal trainer sold to gyms.
- Funding: $36M
- Backers: DCM, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, Signal Fire, Bling Capital
Echelon | The ‘mid-market’ Peloton, Echelon’s connected bike starts at $850. The company also offers a connected rower and a Mirror-like product called ‘Reflect’.
- Launched by Viatek Consumer Products Group in 2018
- Funding: total n/a
- Backers: North Castle Partners
ICON Health & Fitness | The parent company to NordicTrack, Freemotion, and iFit, ICON is attempting to reimagine its exercise equipment (and brand) to compete in a digital world. Interactive offerings include a treadmill, bike, rower, and strength training system.
- Founded: 1977
- Funding: In December of 2019, iFit raised $200M in new funding.
Ergatta | A gaming-inspired connected rower, Ergatta is taking a fresh approach to a tried-and-true form of cardio. Of note, unlike other connected rowers, Ergatta was built in collaboration with WaterRower — meant to simulate rowing on the water.
- Founded: 2019
- Funding: total n/a
- Backers: Techstars
Forme Life | Combining the full-length display screen of Mirror with a Tonal-like strength training system, Forme hopes to appeal to a broader base of exercisers than group fitness (Mirror) or strength training (Tonal) alone.
- Founded: Launching spring 2020
- Funding: total n/a
VOLAVA | This Barcelona-based connected fitness company currently offers a Peloton-like smart bike with live and on-demand classes, as well as indicating plans to introduce a connected boxing product à la FightCamp.
- Founded: 2017
- Funding: €1.2M
- Backers: Inveready
Zwift | Because Zwift does not manufacture its own equipment, it almost didn’t make this list (and you could argue it shouldn’t). But, they’re rumored to be breaking into hardware. For now, Zwift riders hook their own bicycle up to a trainer that’s used to measure performance metrics like power and exertion. Then, those metrics are input into Zwift’s virtual world as users participate in gamified races or group rides.
- Founded: 2014
- Funding: $164.5M
- Backers: Highland Europe, Ion Pacific, Novatar, True., Causeway Media Partners, Shasta Ventures, Waypoint Capital