Issue No. 264: Year-End Review

This issue is presented by

proactive care plan for health, longevity, and high performance.

Today, we’re wrapping up the year by breaking down 2023’s industry-defining developments.

In a few weeks, we’ll return to outline the health and fitness landscape in 2024 and beyond.

But… we’re off next Tuesday, so from our team to you and yours, happy holidays!

WeightWatchers Acquired Sequence

WW’s acquisition of GLP-1 prescriber Sequence signaled a seismic shift away from its behavior change business toward recurring healthcare revenue.

Blurring pharmaceutical and lifestyle medicine, diet app Noom, gym chain Life Time, and fitness operator Xponential also entered obesity meds. Meanwhile, telehealth providers like Ro, hims, and Found scaled up — with weight management startups raising ~$3B since 2021.

From miracle jabs to magic pills, there’s no stopping GLP-1s. But, if we fail to address root causes, we can’t act surprised by the results.

Nike Enters Group Fitness

Expanding beyond athletics, Nike’s boutique fitnessstrength, and wellness initiatives tap community as a growth driver.

Uniting vibe and tribe, studios are thriving as social hubs, while retailers like Vuori, On, and Tracksmith connect consumers with IRL fitness experiences.

For established players and new entrants alike, the opportunity to become a wellness lifestyle brand is too big to pass up — so don’t expect operators to stay in their lanes.

Preventative Diagnostics Redefine Care

Healthcare is shifting from wait and see to see for yourself.

Disillusioned by sick care, consumers are opting for high-tech clinics, whole-body MRIs, and à la carte longevity therapies. Glimpsing the future, ForwardQ Bio, and Neko are automating doctor visits.

Pending proof it works, healthtech for disease prevention and lifestyle design is the ultimate insurance policy. But for now, it’s almost all out of pocket — and for most, out of reach.

Lululemon Exits Fitness

lululemon ditched MIRROR but wasn’t alone in cutting its losses.

With demand and funding shrinking, Peloton went all-in on digital, Tonal restructured to survive, and CLMBR sold to FORME. Reorienting, Tempo opted for AI and Liteboxer rebranded around VR.

Consumers work out on their terms, meaning digital/equipment brands must perform when and where they’re wanted.

Wearables Ramp Up

Upgrading its healthtech stack, Apple is eyeing everything from glucose monitoring to AI health coaching.

Seceding, Amazon exited wearables. But forging ahead, Oura and WHOOP added brand partners, and the latter debuted an AI coach of its own.

Beyond more data, consumers need help connecting the dots. By way of ownership or integration, practical healthcare applications may be the holy grail.

Recovery Rolls On

Wellness spending surged, and recovery rose with it — expanding from athletes to anyone seeking R&R.

Riding the wave, recovery centers, wellness clubs, and stretching-as-a-service scaled up. Merging beauty and high performance, medspas went mainstream.

In the era of holistic health, consumers want wellness everywhere—from in-flight to at home—paying anything to look and feel their best.

Women’s Health Makes Waves

Women’s health investments are up 314% since 2018 — with startups tackling issues from maternal health to sports gender gaps.

Decoding female physiology, InsideTrackerNatural Cycles, and Movano Health strengthened sex-specific data and insights — while Parsley Health launched primary care for her.

As science wakes up to women’s needs, companies highlighting hormones, fertility, and menopause promise continued progress.

Chronic Diseases Rise

Health and fitness has a problem — for all the profitable goods and services, outcomes worsened.

Life expectancy declined, the cost of chronic illness is mounting, and the mental health crisis fueled record rates of loneliness, suicide, and substance abuse.

With the public’s faith on its side, the industry can help remedy longstanding issues, but productized wellness will never eliminate need for lifestyle interventions.

🎙 On the Podcast

Julie Cartwright, President of Pvolve

Pvolve president Julie Cartwright talks redefining low-impact fitness.

Founded in 2017, Pvolve taps resistance-based functional movement to restore body alignment and health. Ditching the no pain, no gain mantra, the company is proving fitness doesn’t have to hurt.

We also cover: partnering with Jennifer Aniston, omnichannel strategy, and differentiating in a competitive boutique franchise market.

Listen to today’s episode here.

💸 Twin Health landed $50M for metabolic care

The telehealth startup added new funding as GLP-1 substitutes take shape.

How it works: The company creates digital twins of patients to predict effective treatment plans. Combining quarterly labs, 1:1 virtual care, biometrics monitoring, and AI-powered lifestyle recommendations, it offers an alternative to obesity drugs.

Behavior change 2.0. GLP-1s are here to stay, but cost, supply, and long-term effects remain concerning. Balancing the scales, startups are making the case for new behavioral approaches.

  • Following a successful trial, holistic care company Love.Life and longevity science startup L-Nutra launched clinical fasting-mimicking programs for diabetes reversal.
  • Targeting employers, Virta Health claims its keto-based nutritional therapy programs can eliminate drug dependency in six months.
  • Also touting digital twins, CGM-enabled January AI published a study showing wearables’ potential to improve metabolic biomarkers and promote weight loss.

Shifting away from willpower, digital health interventions are acknowledging genetics’ influence on weight — combining continuous biometric screening, AI-driven insights, and provider-led care plans for better outcomes.

Precision nutrition. Adjacent to obesity management, healthcare is slowly embracing food-as-medicine. Adding $7M this month, Season Health pairs members with dietitians to prescribe medically tailored meals.

Punchline: Telling people to diet doesn’t work, but relying on GLP-1s is reactive. Whether as an alternative, complement, or continuation of care, behavior change remains crucial to the metabolic health conversation.

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🇺🇸 Sanctum’s wellness raves debut stateside

European event organizer Sanctum will make its US debut in 2024 after partnering with luxury resort operator Auberge.

Need to know: Occupying famous venues and outdoor spaces, Amsterdam-born Sanctum engineers euphoric mindful movement experiences through community, self-care, music, yoga, and dance.

Combating loneliness, tech addiction, and more, the four-hour retreats attract thousands. Expanding its base, Sanctum will head to California in January, followed by appearances in Texas, Connecticut, and Colorado.

Spiritual movement. Seeking a deeper sense of meaning, consumers are craving IRL connection — and brands are co-opting ancient religious rites into secular wellness gatherings.

  • Since 2013, Daybreaker has hosted sober morning dance parties across all seven continents.
  • Entering its 12th year, Yoga on the Rocks sells out sunrise yoga + music sessions at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.
  • Toronto-born bathhouse Othership holds records for an 850-person breathwork event and 1.8K-attendee cold plunge in Lake Ontario.

Looking ahead: Hooked on a feeling, consumers are spending big to reconnect — making recovery, self-care, and social immersion regular practices. So, Sanctum and other experiences that offer a natural high will continue to be a hot ticket.

📰 News & Notes

  • Apple halts Watch 9, Ultra 2 sales amid Masimo lawsuit.
  • NASM creates mindful drinking course for wellness coaches.
  • Exec Q&A: BFT founder Cameron Falloon on global expansion.
  • Canyon Ranch opens longevity and lifestyle club in Fort Worth.
  • Ergatta launches CoachAI for rowing feedback and instruction.
  • WeightWatchers debuts lifestyle programming for GLP-1 users.
  • For global health & fitness news, check out our coverage on WellToDo.
  • Kate Farms unveils plant-based nutrition shakes for kids. [Re-read: Fed Up]
  • Equinox names nutrition, performance, and longevity experts to health board.
  • Estée Lauder teams with Stanford for skin longevity and age reversal initiative.
  • Food-as-medicine platform AHARA syncs with Instacart for personalized shopping.
  • Introducing Fitt Talent: A specialized recruitment firm helping health and fitness companies hire world-class talent.

💰 Money Moves

  • Aussie startup Vitruvian raised $15M for its all-in-one strength training machine.
    More from Fitt Insider: Vitruvian CEO Jon Gregory talks smart strength.
  • Everlab, an Australian personalized healthcare and longevity startup, closed a A$3M ($2M) pre-seed round.
  • Yogurt maker Chobani acquired coffee company La Colombe for $900M.
  • Metabolic care company Twin Health secured $50M in a funding round for its digital twin-based treatment programs.
  • GLP-1-prescribing primary care platform knownwell raised $20M in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
  • Food-as-medicine platform Season Health added $7M in a funding round led by Inception Health and Ziegler Link•age Funds.
  • Binkey, an FSA/HSA-focused fintech company, raised $3.3M in a seed round led by Wellington Access Ventures.
  • Virtual primary care provider LifeMD received a $20M investment from weight management brand Medifast, partnering to integrate lifestyle medicine with GLP-1s.
  • Daily greens powder brand Magic Scoop secured an undisclosed investment from Top Down Ventures.
  • Sustainable period care company The Flex Co. acquired Allbodies, a sexual health education platform for women.
  • 1440 Foods, operator of multiple sports nutrition brands, received an undisclosed investment from Bain Capital Private Equity.
  • LA-based athleisure label Spiritual Gangster added an undisclosed investment from Unified Commerce Group, a retail platform for purpose-driven lifestyle brands.
  • Youth sports operator 3STEP Sports acquired youth soccer league organizer EDP Soccer.
  • TeamSnap, a sports management platform for youth leagues, acquired youth sports coaching app MOJO Sports.
  • Mushroom-based alt-meat brand Meati added undisclosed investments from NBA’er Chris Paul and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman.
  • Biorithm, a maternal care platform, secured $3.5M in a Series A round.
  • Actress Naomi Watts acquired Stripes, the menopause wellness brand she co-founded, out of bankruptcy for $500K.

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

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