Connected fitness is paddling upstream.
The news: Equipment maker WaterRower is buying CITYROW, consolidating its manufacturing and distribution strengths with its counterpart’s tech and content capabilities.
Of note, rival Hydrow explored acquiring CITYROW before a deal fell through.
For context: Founded in 1988, WaterRower first collaborated with CITYROW in 2014, outfitting its boutique studios. Entering connected fitness, it co-produced the brand’s home rower before supplying gamified rowing upstart Ergatta.
Despite building a hybrid ecosystem of at-home rowers and boutique studios, the post-COVID landscape proved difficult to navigate for CITYROW, even after raising $12M in 2021.
In addition to exiting the equipment space, the fate of CITYROW franchises—65 licenses were sold with 11 in operation (as of 2021)—remains unclear.
Zooming out: Once a hotly contested space, the connected rowing wars have subsided as the broader smart equipment boom cooled.
Tried and true, analog erg-maker Concept2 remains the gold standard, while $300M+ in venture funding helped Hydrow stay afloat. And Peloton’s rower failed to turn the tide, doing little to capture market share.
Looking ahead: To prove their worth, connected equipment makers must deliver financial and fitness results. From partnerships and integrations to acquisitions and closing up shop, all options are on the table.