Issue No. 290: New Classic

This issue is presented by

The digital hub for local fitness.

The soda wars continue.


PepsiCo and Coca-Cola made soda an American staple — but the wellness generation is swapping them for healthier alternatives.

With health risks, price hikes, and sugary drink taxes stacking up, US per capita soft drink consumption has fallen every year since the 1990s.

In their place, NielsenIQ reports US functional beverage sales rose 54% from 2020–’24, with the market set to reach $62B by 2027.

Soda War II

Uncompromising, consumers want tasty, nostalgic, guilt-free drinks.

Achieving the trifecta, OLIPOP and Poppi have formed a functional soda duopoly.

  • More than doubling 2023 numbers, OLIPOP is approaching $500M in sales this year.
  • Repeatedly posting triple-digit growth, Poppi’s sales surpassed $100M in 2023.

Trading old-school ads for influencer-led social campaigns, both brands went viral — winning with organic product placement over forceful marketing.

Handing creative direction over to fans, they made shoppers part of the movement and engineered a loyal online community, amplified by IRL activations.

After establishing a cultish base, they targeted the masses with TV spots. And coinciding with a post-pandemic health awakening, soda 2.0 popped off.

Swarming. Riding the wave, kombucha brands HealthAde and Brew Dr. launched sodas, and juice maker Suja Life is giving ’80s classic Slice a BFY reboot.

Scaling up, culture POP added $21M in February, United Sodas of America raised $4.5M last fall, and Canadian-born Cove Soda launched in US Costcos.

Meanwhile, next-gen beverage incubator L.A. Libations entered the race with Rad Soda, and the OG zero-sugar option Zevia rebranded.

Litigating. Gut health is among the top reasons Americans choose functional drinks, but Poppi was slapped with a class-action lawsuit this month, accused of exaggerating its benefits.

With just 2g of fiber per can, it would take four cans/day for three weeks to see a microbiome boost — and even then, whole plant foods remain a superior source of prebiotics.

Adapting. Big Soda is prioritizing sugar-free formulas while also building healthier portfolios.

Pepsi purchased KeVita kombucha in 2016, acquired SodaStream in 2018, debuted adaptogenic Rockstar Focus this year, and plans to double down on bubly water.

For its part, Coke quietly folded sparkling water line AHA to expand Topo Chico, which it sees as its next $1B brand.


Before functional soda, there was flavored seltzer. Still growing, the global sparkling water market is projected to reach $108B by 2032.

The new LaCroix, Liquid Death hit escape velocity by clowning traditional marketing, leveraging comedy to capitalize on Gen Z’s nihilism and close a $67M funding round in March.

Well-established, Waterloo and Spindrift are rumored to be exploring sales. Adding a twist, Recess and Daytrip infuse CBD, while Aura Bora perfects “craft” flavor combinations.

Big Picture

An insidious indulgence, soft drinks are the largest source of calories in the US diet—consumed by 63% of adults daily—and major fuel for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Moving in, OLIPOP and Poppi each entered ~6% more households last year, but Americans still spend $97B on Big Soda annually.

Finally investing in OOH advertising, the brands hope to become as ubiquitous as Coke. And, if successful, could end up being acquired by the enemy.

Punchline: Despite comparably small budgets, OLIPOP and Poppi mastered the better-for-you playbook. Reinventing soda culture, they’re a step in the right direction for future generations.

🎙 On the Podcast

Aidan Dewar, Co-Founder & CEO of Nourish

Nourish co-founder & CEO Aidan Dewar discusses improving America’s relationship to food.

Covered by insurance, Nourish’s telenutrition platform connects users to registered dietitians for 1:1 counseling and behavior change support.

We also cover: navigating GLP-1s, prioritizing preventative healthcare, and integrating food delivery into the business model.

Listen to today’s episode here.

💸 Function Health adds new funding

The preventative diagnostics platform closed a Series A investment led by a16z’s Bio + Health fund, bringing its total funding to $53M.

Go long. Co-founded by functional medicine expert Dr. Mark Hyman, the company leverages robust lab testing to improve longevity and healthspan.

Taking a proactive approach, twice-annual 100-biomarker panels are reviewed by AI and human clinicians to spot and treat disease. Members can also opt for additional tests as needed.

In demand. Operating in beta since April, Function counts 50K paying customers and another 200K waitlisted.

Functional fitness. A proponent of lifestyle medicine, the company partnered with premium gym chain Equinox this year, allowing trainers to translate comprehensive tests into proactive plans.

Looking ahead: Losing faith in traditional healthcare, more people are seeking preventative scansalternative medicine, and longevity protocols. Democratizing diagnostics, Function wants to prioritize health over healthcare.

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🤝 Nike and Hyperice reimagine recovery

The sportswear icon and wellness tech company unveiled wearable “pre-covery” tools, designed to optimize warmups, cooldowns, and overall performance.

  • Nike x Hyperice Boot: a custom shoe delivering heat and compression massage to feet and ankles.
  • Nike x Hyperice Vest: offers built-in contrast therapy capabilities — instantly heating and cooling the body while autonomously monitoring temperature.

Focus group. Tapping an elite roster for feedback—including LeBron James and legendary marathoner Eliud Kipchoge—the tech will be available to Summer Olympians before commercial release.

Future-proof. As competition mounts in their respective sectors, the collab boosts both brands.

Evolving as indie brands emerge, Nike diversified across holistic wellnessgroup fitnessgym equipment, and women’s sports. Now, it’s reminding people the pros still prefer its products.

Entering new territory, Hyperice is out to prove it’s the true recovery innovator.

Punchline: While its definition of “athlete” expands, Nike is sticking to its aspirational ethos. Teaming with the Swoosh, Hyperice gains elite endorsement and stays ahead of the curve.

📰 News & Notes

  • Nix debuts hydration tracking for teams, orgs.
  • F45 Training syncs strength workouts to Strava.
  • Kroger adds GLP-1 medications to in-store clinics.
  • MIT taps Evie Ring for Long COVID, Lyme disease research.
  • Oura earns royalties on Circular’s US sales following patent suit.
  • Under Armour settles long-standing investor lawsuit for $434M.
  • RockBox Fitness taps ABC Fitness to scale online programming.
  • Startup Q&A: TRIPP CEO Nanea Reeves on immersive mindfulness.
  • FitOn, Talkspace partner to promote fitness + mental health approach.
  • Insurer John Hancock discounts full-body Prenuvo scans for members.
  • Meal tracking app Lifesum acquires German nutrigenomics startup LYKON.
  • Hiring? Enlist Fitt’s network-driven recruiting firm to find high-performing talent.

💰 Money Moves

  • Virtual maternal health provider Pomelo Care raised $46M in a Series B round led by First Round Capital and a16z Bio + Health.
  • Hybrid weight-inclusive healthcare company knownwell acquired AI-powered online obesity management clinic Alfie Health.
  • Upcycled snack brand Rind Snacks secured $2.75M in a new funding round.
  • Numinus, operator of ketamine-assisted therapy clinics, acquired MedBright AI, a company using machine learning to improve healthcare operations.
  • Marble Health, a startup providing online group therapy to teens, secured $5M in a seed round from Khosla VenturesTown Hall VenturesIA Ventures, and others.
  • MEandMine, a company using AI to flag mental health risks in children, added $4.5M in a funding round led by K5 Global.
  • Konjac-based noodle maker Skinny Pasta raised $3.8M in a new funding round.
  • Sustainable sports drink brand O2 Hydration added an undisclosed equity investment from Milwaukee-based Sprecher Brewery.
  • Indoor pickleball franchise The Picklr closed a $9M Series B round at a $59M valuation.
  • Crunch Fitness franchisee JF Fitness secured undisclosed funding from Trive Capital and 808 Capital Partners to acquire eight-gym franchisee Team Roldan.
  • Pro Shop Holdings, a company combining golf media, commerce, and entertainment, closed a $1.07M Series A round and acquired golf lifestyle brand Sugarloaf Social Club.
  • L Catterton acquired Stripes Beauty, a menopause-focused personal care brand founded by actress Naomi Watts.
  • Youth sports experience company Unrivaled Sports added undisclosed funding from Ares Management and invested in Colorado-based indoor action sports center SNÖBAHN.
  • TMRW Sports, Tiger Woods’ next-gen sports, media, and entertainment brand, raised an undisclosed amount in a Series A round co-led by Dynasty Equity and Connect Ventures.
  • Veteran-founded digital mental health startup INVI MindHealth closed a $1.5M seed round.
  • Orthopedic remote patient monitoring and health coaching platform Prescribe FIT raised $4.8M in a Series A round.
  • Healthcare investment firm Altaris acquired virtual health management platform Sharecare.

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

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