Issue No. 262: In the Game

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trusted PR partner to leading fitness and wellness companies.

Advances in sportstech are transforming practice, performance, and injury prevention.

Buying In

The world’s top sports teams have become billion-dollar empires. But innovations in sportstech—from media and gambling to player development—are changing the game.

  • In Q2’23, sportstech startups added $1.6B in funding, with M&A deals worth $14.5B.
  • 31 sportstech funds raised $4B+ in the past 12 months, per SportsTechX.
  • The sports analytics market will grow from $2.1B to $16.5B this decade.

Looking past fan engagement, technology is redefining what it means to build a championship team.

AI-Star Team

Promising to create super-athletes, AI decodes fitness, recovery, injury risk, nutrition, and more.

In-sync. Mirroring consumer wellness trends, athletes are pursuing holistic performance — giving rise to platforms measuring metrics far beyond movement.

  • Nextiles’ and STRIVE’s smart apparel tracks muscle activity, fatigue, and power.
  • Playermaker’s cleat strap and Soccerment’s shin guards quantify soccer performance, while Plantiga’s smart insoles analyze gait and biomechanics.
  • Under the skin, Nix’s patch informs hydration, Supersapiens’ CGM connects exercise and metabolism, and France’s BodyCap is testing heat stress-sensing swallowables.

Optimizing from the inside out, trainers are utilizing DEXA scans and whole-body MRIs from companies like Springbok Analytics to map bone density, body composition, and musculoskeletal health.

Power up. Taking the guesswork out of training, PerchOxeFitArena, and Proteus Motion are outfitting collegiate and pro weight rooms with smart strength equipment. In the kitchen, ZoneIn uses AI to customize team nutrition plans, while GENEFIT leverages genetic data for personalized diet, training, and recovery recommendations.

Drill down. Tapping computer vision for skill development, PlaySight’s sensor-equipped courts/fields translate game action into data. With backing from the NBA, HomeCourt’s app provides instant feedback to improve shooting percentage.

In soccer, US-based TOCA Football recently raised $54M and partnered with the MLS for high-tech training facilities, and Germany’s SKILLCOURT installation gamifies agility drills.

In the game. GPS-enabled platforms like Catapult Sports and STATsports arm coaches with predictive analytics and real-time insights. But new advancements rethink load management.

  • Orreco uses rapid biomarker testing for up-to-the-minute player diagnostics, while its FitrWoman provides cycle-informed training for female athletes.
  • Kitman Labs, which contextualizes player data for organization-wide decisions, is used by NFL, NBA, and was recently picked up by English Premier League academies.
  • After raising $25M in ’22, VALD is equipping teams and military operators with force plates, blood flow restriction cuffs, and movement assessments to keep them in action.

In your head. As mental fitness becomes a priority, teams are seeking solutions like iNSPIRETEK to track emotional activity and The Zone to help struggling athletes. Aiding acuity, IMG Academy offers 1:1 resilience training, neurofeedback headbands help NFL quarterbacks enhance focus, and BlazePod lights train up F1 drivers’ reaction times.

Upping the ante. Recognizing sportstech as a catalyst for growth, the NBA launched a startup incubator, while the NFL’s venture arm 32 Equity counts recovery device maker Hyperice and VR platform Strivr among its portfolio.

Takeaway. Pushing the boundaries of in-game performance and fan engagement, new tech is no longer a nice-to-have. For athletes, franchises, and leagues alike, embracing innovation will be key to staying competitive.

🎙 On the Podcast

Garrett Marshall Xpotential

Xponential+ president Garrett Marshall discusses the future of digital fitness.

Part of Xponential Fitness, Xponential+ hosts streaming classes from the company’s portfolio of boutique studio brands. Partnering with Meta, the platform plans to make VR workouts mainstream.

We also cover: recreating the studio experience online, navigating industry hype cycles, and why in-person workouts remain the gold standard.

Listen to today’s episode here.

📈 Xponential Fitness adds two new brands to its roster

The boutique fitness franchisor is acquiring Lindora weight loss clinics and partnering with dance-fitness concept KINRGY.

For context: Xponential owns 10 fitness brands across its portfolio, including Club Pilates, CycleBar, Rumble, StretchLab, Row House, Pure Barre, AKT, YogaSix, STRIDE Fitness, and BFT.

Ways to well. With Lindora, XPOF aims to tap growing demand for holistic health services, offering GLP-1s like Ozempic, IV drips, hormone replacement therapy, and cold laser therapy, among other treatments.

Coming on the heels of Life Time’s newly launched MIORA longevity clinics, the fitness industry is converging with medspaswellness studios, and healthcare.

Bust a move. Switching up its choreography, the franchisor is replacing Anna Kaiser’s dance concept AKT with Julianne Hough’s KINRGY – acquiring IP and branding to roll out brick-and-mortar studios.

After buying AKT in 2018, Xponential sold 100+ franchises, but a messy legal battle halted progress. Revising its plans, XPOF hopes KINRGY’s combo of dance and mindful movement will be a hit with studio-goers.

But… Despite the latest deals, Xponential is facing challenges. This summer, the company issued a “statement of strength” following a report questioning its standing. And, more recently, an apparent franchise deal gone wrong made headlines over unpaid wages and mismanagement.

Looking ahead: Expanding its empire beyond exercise, XPOF is testing the wellness waters while strengthening its roster of studio concepts. Still, as the company reaches new heights, it has to appease members, franchisees, and Wall Street alike, scaling the quality of its offering, not just the size.

Presented by Jack Taylor

👀 All eyes on you

Focus is fleeting, and attention spans are short.

But Jack Taylor knows how to break through the noise.

A team of creative storytellers and brand builders, Jack Taylor is the PR partner behind companies like WHOOP, Remedy Place, Eight Sleep, and more.

Specializing in fitness and wellness, they package passion, expertise, and network into bespoke engagements that deliver results.

Ready to level up? Head here to get started today.

🧠 Brain research unlocks new frontiers for startups

A new study from Mass General shows a strong connection between daily lifestyle behaviors and neurological health.

Tracking physical biometrics, nutrition, exercise, and socioemotional habits in ~400K adults, researchers found higher holistic health reduced risk of dementia by 59% and stroke by 52%.

Brain gains. Demystifying the brain’s inner circuits, neuroscientists are paving the way to treat previously incurable widespread diseases.

  • Globally, neurological disorders are the leading cause of disability and the second-leading cause of death.
  • One in seven US citizens suffers dementia, with numbers expected to triple by 2050.
  • Alzheimer’s and dementia cost the US $321B in 2022 alone.

Doubling down. The government invested $3B in the Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative to fund studies that map the human brain.

Mentalists. Turning science into solutions, startups like Elon Musk’s Neuralink, Bill Gates- and Jeff Bezos-backed Synchron, Onward Medical, and Precision Neuroscience are progressing human clinical trials for implantable brain chips.

Future thinking. A glaring oversight in neuroscience, just 0.5% of existing research focuses on women’s health — yet, 70% of Alzheimer’s cases, and 65% of depression diagnoses impact women.

Punchline: What’s good for the brain is good for the body — and vice versa. For those suffering from neurological disorders, brain tech offers new hope. But for the general population, a healthy lifestyle is the best tool for prevention.

📰 News & Notes

  • Fitt Jobs: Top health & fitness companies want you!
  • iFIT sells SWEAT app back to co-founder Kayla Itsines.
  • Activewear brand Bandier seeks sale to avoid bankruptcy.
  • Introducing the latest product from Fitt Insider: Press Releases.
  • XPRIZE sets $101M prize purse for longevity drug development.
  • Health-focused restaurant chain True Food Kitchen nixes seed oils.
  • TRX mobile training spinout OutFit Training targets national franchising.
  • releases most-played artists, genres across digital fitness apps.
  • Reebok signs sports equipment deal for pickleball, recovery tech, and more.
  • Startup Q&A: Daybreak Health CEO Alex Alvarado on school-based teletherapy.
  • Strava launches direct messaging, group chats for connection and coordination.
  • Psychedelic therapy platform Mindbloom debuts programs for burnout and heartbreak.

💰 Money Moves

  • Boutique fitness franchisor Xponential Fitness acquired weight loss and wellness clinic operator Lindora and IP from dance-fitness concept KINRGY in separate deals.
  • UK-based performance apparel maker Castore raised £145M ($183M) at a $1.2B valuation.
  • London-based AI run coaching app Runna closed a £5M ($6.3M) funding round.
  • French startup Circle Sportswear raised €4M ($4.3M) for its sustainable running and yoga range.
  • IMG Academy, a global sports-focused prep school, added an undisclosed investment from private investment firm Patricof Co, with participation from 50+ pro athletes.
  • Pea milk maker Ripple Foods added $49M from undisclosed investors in a new funding round.
  • Clayful, a text-based on-demand mental health platform for K-12 students, raised $7M in a funding round led by Reach Capital.
  • Vitamin maker Pharmavite acquired menopause-focused supplements brand Bonafide Health.
  • At-home diagnostics company imaware acquired the consumer testing business of sexual health startup binx health.
  • Health club operator Bay Club acquired PRO Club Inc., operator of two Seattle-based lifestyle gyms.
  • Joon Care, a teletherapy startup for teens and young adults, raised $6M in a new funding round.
  • Cultivated meat startup Clever Carnivore closed a $7M oversubscribed seed round led by Lever VC.
  • Hydration beverage maker ROAR Organic raised $6M in fresh funding.
  • Women’s adaptogenic supplement brand hey freya landed $500K in a funding round.

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

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