Published: December 8, 2018
The Peloton of “X” is reshaping fitness.
Follow the Leader
There was a time, not long ago, when Uber seemed like a crazy idea.
The concept was so far-fetched that seasoned investors like Fred Wilson, Mark Cuban, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Ashton Kutcher all initially passed on putting money in (note: some invested in later rounds).
Then, something clicked, the service took off, and now, despite a laundry list of woes, the company is valued at more than $90B.
Thinking back on the years just as and after Uber found product-market fit, you’ll remember a phenomenon known as the Uber of “X”. Startups the world over were—and many still are—modeling themselves after the ride-sharing company, promising to Uberize everything from real estate and healthcare to parking spots and bathrooms.
While many have tried to replicate Uber’s success, raising and blowing billions, few have succeeded in hitting paydirt.
The punchline: all it takes is one unicorn to send investors and entrepreneurs into a frenzy. And right now, the hype surrounding connected, at-home fitness equipment has reached Uber of “X” level.
Piggybacking on Peloton
Going forward, would-be entrepreneurs will point to the Peloton as the shining example of what could be.
As a result, investors can expect to encounter pitches with a similar refrain, “we’re like Peloton for [activity]”. However, these pitches are not unwelcome; many of those same investors are actively searching, checkbook in hand, for a 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.
“Artificial intelligence is really bringing the personal trainer into the home. I think that is the next big wave.” – Michael Farello, L Catterton
To date, a number of tech-enabled fitness concepts have tapped this trend.
The Peloton of ‘X’ Landscape
Going beyond the bike, a growing list of competitors are hoping to become the Peloton of rowing, weightlifting, boutique studios, and more.
- 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 and an AI-powered personal trainer into a wall-mounted strength training system.
- Mirror | Similarly, Mirror is beaming boutique fitness classes into the home by way of a sleek, mirror-like (go figure) display that’s actually an interactive LED screen.
- Tempo | A 3D-enabled, AI-driven strength training, HIIT, and cardio system, Tempo 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.
- Hydrow | This connected indoor rower hopes to corner the rowing market as others, like Peloton and Zwift, are rumored to enter the space.
- Zwift | For now, Zwift is focused on creating virtual worlds’ for running and cycling, but the company is said to be developing its own connected equipment.
- FightCamp | Another up-and-comer, FightCamp is bringing boxing into the home with punch-tracking sensors to measure the count, type, speed, and “intensity” of your jabs.
- Echelon | There’s no question that most of these connected fitness products appeal to the relatively affluent consumer. However, bridging a formidable void, Echelon, the ‘mid-market Peloton’ of sorts, promises a connected cycling experience for the consumer who’s unwilling to shell out for a high-priced flagship. The company also released Echelon Reflect, a Mirror competitor, for two-thirds the price.
- Equinox | With the SoulCycle at-home bike and Equinox+, this gym chain has entered the at-home battle.