Star Power: The Athletes, Celebrities, and Influencers Investing in Health & Fitness Brands

Image: Hydrow

Hoping to stand out, health and fitness companies are all-in on high-profile partnerships.

Athlete VC. Nothing new, sports stars often sign massive endorsement deals. But, prominent pros are leveling up, becoming venture capitalists or founders in their own right.

With long-term upside and passion for a product, athletes have a vested interest in promoting a brand to their massive, engaged fanbase. On the flipside, companies tap athletes for awareness, distribution, and relevance in culture.

  • Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, and others have started venture capital firms, while athletes like Naomi Osaka and Patrick Mahomes are becoming prominent investors.
  • Companies like Hyperice, Tonal, and WHOOP are running the athlete-as-investor playbook to perfection.

Star power. Getting in on the action, celebrities and musicians are investing in fitness and wellness brands.

Instead of renting out their time or likeness, entertainers are backing startups that align with their personal brand and resonate with their fans. With incentives aligned, celebs can authentically rep a product, benefiting in the long-term upside.

  • Jay-Z has invested in at-home fitness companies CLMBR, LIT Method, and recovery tech brand Therabody. He’s also backed Factor’s healthy meal delivery service, as well as plant-based brands Simulate, maker’s of NUGGS, and Impossible Foods.
  • Kevin Hart counts investments in supplement maker Nutrabolt, connected rower Hydrow, activewear label Fabletics, beverage brand Super Coffee, and Therabody, among others.

The new guard. Ignoring ads and commercials, younger generations are drawn to content creators on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Gen Z doesn’t fawn over mainstream celebrities or athletes—they follow influencers.

As the balance of powers shifts, brands are being forced to adapt and creators are cashing in.

  • With more than 36M social media followers, including 24.9M on TikTok, 19-year-old Josh Richards isn’t doing sponsored posts; he’s starting companies (like Ani Energy) and investing in startups. In March, Richards partnered with Goldman Sachs investment banker Marshall Sandman to launch Animal Capital, a Gen Z-focused investment fund.
  • Better known as MrBeast, Jimmy Donaldson has amassed 91M subscribers and 13B views across his six YouTube channels, making this 23-year-old one of the most popular creators on the planet. Donaldson employs upwards of 50 people to execute elaborate videos, build mobile games, and operate a ghost kitchen chain called MrBeast Burger. He’s also an investor.

Fitness creators. Armed with more leverage than the brands themself, fitness creators could become investors in or co-founders of the next Peloton.

  • Kayla Itsines of SWEAT is a prime example — her app earns upwards of $100M/year in revenue as part of an exercise empire worth much more.
  • Joe Wicks went from Instagram and YouTube star to author and investor.
  • Blogilates founder Cassey Ho started an athleisure brand and recently launched a line of fitness equipment at Target.

Looking ahead. In the battle to stand out, creators, influencers, and fitness celebrities are a force to be reckoned with.