Issue No. 180: The Metabolic Health Report

As the metabolic health crisis worsens, tech-enabled interventions promise to curb diabetes, obesity, healthcare spending, and more.

But, absent widespread adoption and significant behavior change, there’s no comprehensive solution in sight.

The Latest

Championing metabolic fitness, Levels added $38M in funding, valuing the company at $300M.

Pairing a continuous glucose monitor with its app, Levels helps users track blood glucose in real time.

After launching with a Tesla-like strategy, offering a premium product before lowering the cost over time, Levels recently adopted a membership model likened to Costco.

Now, the company will charge an annual fee ($198/year), then offer a la carte products and services like CGMs and blood testing at or near cost — notably, CGM costs fall from $399/mo. to about $199/mo.

Founded in 2019, to date, Levels has operated in closed beta, honing its offering while providing services to 25K users. With new funding secured and a waitlist of more than 200K would-be users, the company is pursuing full commercial availability and international expansion.

Red Flags

A product of poor nutrition and sedentary habits, we’re in the midst of a metabolic health crisis.

  • Over 128M Americans have prediabetes or diabetes.
  • 88% of Americans display some level of metabolic dysfunction.
  • By 2030, 50% of US adults will be obese, adding to $1.72T in related healthcare spending.

Unwell. Up to 37% of Americans suffer from clinically diagnosed metabolic syndrome, meaning they exhibit three of the five co-contributing traits: high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, elevated fasting blood sugar, increased blood pressure, and/or a large waist.

Underlying issues. No secret, lifestyle choices directly impact metabolic function. Still, creating and maintaining healthy habits remains a barrier to optimal well-being.

The list goes on… We’re barely beginning to comprehend the intricacies of metabolic health and how to address it holistically. Including the big three above, there are at least 40 inputs that impact blood sugar (and therefore metabolism), including hydration, alcohol use, and temperature.

CGM for All?

Offering real-time insights on blood sugar levels, continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sheds light on how lifestyle choices uniquely affect each individual.

Nothing new, wearable glucose monitors received FDA approval in 1999. A major upgrade over urine tests or finger pricks, CGM revolutionized diabetes care.

Mainstream monitors. Bolstered by biohacking’s boom and demand for hyper-personalized health insights, CGM is evolving beyond clinical diabetes treatment to include consumer wellness more broadly.

Taking notice, startups, investors, and tech’s biggest names have zeroed in on glucose monitoring. As momentum builds, investments in wellness-focused CGM increased from $1.5M in 2017 to $62M in 2021, per Pitchbook.

Newcomers. While Levels looks to optimize metabolic fitness, NutriSense, Veri, myLevels, January AI, and Signos are targeting the $200B diet and weight loss market. Another approach, Supersapiens and Ultrahuman are targeting endurance athletes and fitness enthusiasts, respectively.

Old guard. Wellness-focused CGM platforms rely on hardware from Abbott and Dexcom. Increasingly, these diabetes-focused device makers are pursuing opportunities in consumer health.

In addition to integrating with Garmin and releasing its smaller, more accurate G7 device, Dexcom launched a venture fund and backed Signos. Meanwhile, Abbott announced Lingo, its consumer biowearables capable of tracking glucose, ketones, alcohol levels, and lactate.

Needle-free. A new frontier, noninvasive, needleless next-gen devices could transform health tracking, including CGM. Here, Biolinq secured $100M to perfect its glucose-monitoring patch.

Elsewhere, Apple biosensor supplier Rockley Photonics is rumored to be developing a filament-free system. Speaking of Apple, the company joins tech titans Google/Fitbit, Amazon, and Samsung in targeting glucose monitoring.

Beyond blood sugar. Glucose monitoring is just one tactic for tackling metabolic health. Fitness wearables have given rise to smart toilets and sensor-packed mattresses. AI-powered personalized nutrition platforms are taking hold. And digital weight loss companies like Found and Calibrate have raised hundreds of millions.

Looking Ahead

From health optimization to general wellness, there’s no denying that CGM is gaining traction. But, whether or not it’s effective for non-diabetes patients remains to be seen.

While health apps and wearables garner hype, for the average person, nothing beats consistent exercise, proper diet, and adequate sleep. Besides, even if everyone eventually adopts the tech, there’s no guarantee they adopt healthier habits.

Still, as funding pours in and innovation continues, we’ll move closer toward unlocking personalized data and insights, including glucose, ketones, cortisol, hydration, and more.

Go deeper: For more on the startups and strategies shaping the consumer CGM space, check out our full breakdown here.

💪 Accountability-as-a-Service

Last time we hosted Future CEO Rishi Mandal on the podcast was March 3, 2020. Two weeks later, the pandemic changed how we exercise. We had a lot to catch up on.

On the Fitt Insider Podcast: Rishi Mandal returns to discuss the state of the fitness industry and the power of his company’s equipment-agnostic approach.

We also cover: Future’s recent $75M funding round and how its digital personal training service is so successful in retaining members.

Listen to today’s episode here

👀 lululemon Studio

Envisioning a “new path for connected fitness,” lululemon unveiled its plan for “the most immersive fitness marketplace in the industry.”

Self-reflecting. After acquiring MIRROR for $500M in 2020, lululemon struggled to scale the fitness offering, slashing sales figures for the device in half last year.

In early 2022, Amazon vet Michael Aragon replaced MIRROR founder Brynn Putnam as chief executive.

Members only. Now, the retailer is overhauling MIRROR’s monthly subscription. Bundling clothing, content, and community, the $39/mo membership will include exclusive gear, in-person classes, and all-new digital workouts.

Under the lululemon Studio banner, the company is teaming with Xponential Fitness and boutiques like DOGPOUND, AARMY, Forward__Space, and Y7 for fitness content and in-person classes.

Sweat x spend. By further integrating MIRROR and lulu, the company thinks 80% of its customers will eventually become members. A powerful combination, delivering value while promoting an active lifestyle pays dividends — as lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald put it: “The more they sweat, the more they spend.”

TBD. lulu is making MIRROR a central element of its omnichannel guest experience. But the question remains: is MIRROR’s hardware necessary to achieve that goal? For instance, other retailers have found success sans equipment, see: Nike’s app arsenalAthleta x obé, and Alo Yoga’s Moves platform.

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🤝 Let’s Make a Deal

A few weeks back, we hinted at the potential for industry-wide M&A. On cue, deals are stacking up.

Endurance tech. Wahoo acquired virtual training platform RGT Cycling, doubling down on subscription revenue and digital content.

Known for its indoor bike trainers and smart accessories, Wahoo has been busy building a vast endurance tech ecosystem, previously acquiring The Sufferfest training app.

With the addition of RGT, the company also unveiled Wahoo X, uniting the newly formed Wahoo RGT, existing training content, and all connected devices under the Wahoo umbrella.

If it wasn’t clear before, there’s no denying it now: Taking aim at the booming endurance economy, Wahoo is bulking up to take on Zwift.

Omnichannel workouts. Core Health & Fitness acquired Wexer, a digital fitness company.

Manufacturing at-home and commercial fitness equipment, Core owns Nautilus, Schwinn, StairMaster, and other brands. Focusing on virtual workouts and technology, Wexer lets gym partners white-label content (including 1,700+ videos) or upload their own.

Bundling hardware and content, Core x Wexer targets at-home exercisers while creating a turn-key package for gyms and facilities needing a digital presence.

Exertrainment. Blue Goji, a fitness gamification company, acquired Interactive Fitness Holdings, owner of VR/connected fitness pioneer Expresso. With a footprint in both the physical rehab space and consumer “exertrainment,” Blue Goji plugs bike equipment into its portfolio of equipment and clinically tested, interactive VR games.

Punchline: By way of consolidation or complementary partnerships, fitness brands are coming together as consumer habits shift.

📰 News & Notes

  • Apple Fitness+ goes big on dance workouts.
  • Fitt Jobs: launch your new career in health & fitness.
  • F45 taps UFC’s Tim Kennedy as military ambassador.
  • Chinese fitness screen FITURE launches in the US today.
  • Following $2.55B valuation, Oura hires new CEO to lead IPO.
  • Per ASICS, Gen Z is more sedentary than older generations 57+.
  • Eleiko teams with Peloton Commercial’s Precor brand in Scandinavia.
  • Startup Q&A: Evernow CEO Dr. Alicia Jackson on holistic menopause care.

💰 Money Moves

  • Levels, a metabolic health platform, closed a $38M Series A round, valuing the company at $300M.
  • Australian connected strength startup Vitruvian raised $15M in a Series A round and will enter the US.
    More from Fitt Insider: The Connected Fitness Report
  • Cycling equipment maker Wahoo acquired virtual cycling platform RGT Cycling.
  • Core Health & Fitness, owner of brands like Nautilus and Schwinn, acquired Wexer, a developer and distributor of digital fitness content.
  • VR fitness company Blue Goji acquired Interactive Fitness Holdings, makers of Expresso and CyberCycle bikes.
    More from Fitt Insider: Fitness 3.0
  • Altis, makers of an AI personal training system, added $3M in seed funding and signed agreements with LA Fitness and Life Time.
    More from Fitt Insider: The Rise of AI Trainers
  • Elysian Park Ventures, the Los Angeles DodgersR/GA Ventures, and tennis legend Billie Jean King launched Trailblazer Venture Studio, a firm investing in women’s athletics.
  • Cultivated meat company UPSIDE Foods (fka Memphis Meats) raised $400M in a funding round co-led by Temasek and Abu Dhabi Growth Fund, valuing the company over $1B.
    More from Fitt Insider: Meat vs. “Meat”
  • Cheribundi, makers of antioxidant cherry beverages for sleep and immunity, secured new funding from the NFL’s Deebo Samuel, USWNT star Lindsey Horan, and others.
  • Campspace, a Dutch campsite booking platform, locked in €3M ($3.2M) in funding to expand across Europe.
    More from Fitt Insider: Camping x Tech
  • Securly, a student wellness-focused portfolio company, acquired Rhithm, a digital mental and emotional health platform for schools.
  • Bicycle manufacturer Trek acquired David’s World Cycle, operator of 21 Florida bike shops.
  • Amae Health, an integrated care platform treating severe mental illness, launched after raising an undisclosed seed round from 8VC and others.
  • Lifestyle apparel maker LifeLabs, creators of fabrics that cool or retain body heat, added $6M in seed funding.
  • Fitr, a SaaS company for remote fitness coaching, closed $1.2M in new funding.
  • Functional beverage company Koios acquired hard seltzer maker Retox Beverage Corp. and launched a fitness-focused alcoholic soda.
    More from Fitt Insider: Functional Beverage Boom
  • Saysh, the lifestyle apparel brand created by Olympian Allyson Felix, secured a “multi-million dollar” investment from IRIS Ventures.

Today’s newsletter was brought to you by Anthony Vennare, Joe Vennare, and Ryan Deer.

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