Past Issues

The business of fitness and wellness.

An Ever-evolving Industry


For years, the at-home fitness space was devoid of innovation — a treadmill was a treadmill. 

Then in 2012, Peloton turned the direct-to-consumer fitness market upside down. The company’s focus on technology and design, combined with a compelling business model—recurring revenue in the form of a monthly content subscription—set a new standard for the industry. 

In the time since: As Peloton pulled ahead, a growing number of competitors have joined the race to reinvent the home gym. If imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery, Peloton must feel honored to have inspired so many upstarts. The company’s impact is so obvious that we’ve even dubbed the competitive landscape The Peloton of ‘X’. 

Jumping ahead to the present day, the category is evolving so quickly that keeping up has become a challenge. In fact, the rate of innovation has led many Insider readers to reach out and request a more complete, 2019 Outlook-style breakdown of what’s happening, making the need for an in-depth report clear.

A Guide to Connected Equipment 

In an effort to go beyond headline-grabbing funding rounds or the assertion that the “Netflix of fitness” will shutter every single gym, we compiled the “Connected Equipment Report” to keep tabs on the ever-evolving industry.

What we cover: Taking a step back from up-to-the-minute news, the Connected Equipment Report offers context and analysis intended to help readers identify the broader implications, risks, and opportunities taking shape. 

  • A Category-Defining Company
  • Our “Connected” Future
  • Reimagining Retail
  • Going Public: Initial Peloton Offering
  • Game-changed: The Equinox of ‘X’
  • The Connected Equipment Landscape

It’s worth mentioning, this isn’t intended to be a conclusive piece. Instead, this report will be a fluid work-in-progress that’s updated as the market continues to take shape. In fact, we’re anxiously awaiting Peloton’s S-1 filing so a proper breakdown can be added. 

>> Read the full report here

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Headlines & Happenings

🚲 Closing Time

Boutique studio operator Flywheel Sports is closing 11 of its 42 locations. The closures will impact studios in Atlanta, Austin, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay area.

This news comes amid a series of struggles for the company: 

  • Fall ’18: Discounted Flywheel classes are offered on ClassPass.
  • Dec ’18: Flywheel hired advisors to explore a sale but failed to garner interest. 
  • May ’19: Kennedy Lewis, a lender to Flywheel, seized control of the company. 
  • Aug ’19: The company announces studio closures as it pushes its at-home bike.

A sign of the times. The convenience factor of connected equipment is plain to see. It’s also challenging the core beliefs of studio operators, instructors, and devotees who are convinced that the in-studio experience is irreplaceable. In contrast, Peloton’s success is proving that—given the choice between saving time and showing up in person—we’d rather have more time. 

While it’s not simply a binary choice between group or at-home workouts, it is becoming painfully obvious that studios centered around a single modality are most at risk. If one piece of equipment paired with streaming content can mimic the in-class experience, an on-demand option will eventually rear its head. 

Zooming out: What’s more interesting, though, are the future implications for connected equipment and streaming content companies. If single-modality studios are at risk, surely digital fitness companies devoted to one format—be it cycling, rowing, running, boxing, etc.—are backing themselves into a corner. 

If that’s true, the winners of the connected fitness arms race will be the companies that are platform-, workout-, and location-agnostic. While Peloton has led the pack to date, Equinox may have changed the game, and who knows what’s next.

🔙 Circling back

Back in Issue No. 13, we included a report that had Rumble Boxing on the fundraising trail, seeking $200M at a $500M valuation. 

Update: Bloomberg is reporting that Rumble has yet to close the round due to lack of interest from VCs at the proposed valuation. For context…

  • Rumble is a boxing-inspired group fitness concept based in NYC.
  • Jan ’18: Equinox acquired a “significant minority” stake in the company. 
  • The company has expanded, opening studios in NYC, LA, SF, DC, and Philly. 
  • Nov ’18: Rumble announces “At Home 360” — a partnership with Technogym and SB Projects (Scooter Braun) to create streaming content delivered via Technogym equipment.

Red flags. Although the company has experienced tremendous growth while also making headlines as the preferred workout spot of celebrities like Justin Bieber, it’s possible that investors have cooled on cool fitness concepts. 

The ongoing threat from at-home options, compounded by stumbles by studios like Flywheel, may be setting off red flags with investors. ClassPass’s 2017 down round and SoulCycle’s abandoned IPO effort are also sure to come up in conversation. 

Looking ahead: While Rumble has made their out-of-studio intentions known, it’s possible that investors are taking a wait-and-see approach until after the initiative is live.

🎯 Missed the mark

Last year, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers made headlines when its wellness-focused rebrand to WW fell flat. While the move was seen as an attempt to appeal to millennials and Gen Z, the company is coming under fire for targeting much younger customers. 

What it is: Last week, WW introduced Kurbo, a weight loss app for kids and teens ages 8–17. The reception has been, well… pretty terrible. That’s mainly because, as many, many folks have pointed out, it’s a pretty terrible idea. For context...

  • Kurbo Health, a mobile app aimed at combating childhood obesity, first launched in 2014. 
  • WW acquired Kurbo Health for $3M in 2018.
  • The relaunched app uses a “traffic light” system—red, yellow, green—to track food intake. 
  • Users are rewarded for consistency with Snapchat-like “streaks”. 
  • The program includes options for virtual coaching, guided meditation, recipe videos, and games focused on living a healthy lifestyle.

The backlash. From parents to nutritionists and dieticians, Kurbo has been criticized as being irresponsible and dangerous. The concern is that the app will create guilt and shame around eating certain foods, putting children at risk for an eating disorder. Plus, it’s seen as a ploy to get customers into the WW funnel at an earlier age. 

The takeaway: With the national childhood obesity rate nearing 20%, it’s clear that we’re failing to confront a serious issue. However, it’s also clear that a weight loss app for kids probably isn’t the answer. For readers of this newsletter, this represents an opportunity and a challenge… what solutions can health and fitness professionals offer to curb this trend?


💰 Money Moves

Fiture, a Chinese connected fitness startup, raised $6M in an initial round of funding led by Sequoia Capital China.

Shiru, a protein-synthesis startup backed and incubated by Y Combinator, is raising a round of funding to explore sustainable protein production.

Nurx, a birth control delivery startup, raised $32M in Series C funding co-led by Kleiner Perkins and Union Square Ventures. It also secured $20M in debt funding.

More from Fitt Insider  >> The Women’s Health Revolution

Vuori, an Encinitas, CA-based athletic clothing brand, raised $45M from Norwest Venture Partners.
More from Fitt Insider >> The Evolution of Athleisure

VeganNation, a Tel Aviv-based global marketplace for vegans, closed a $10M funding round.

PaulCamper, a Berlin-based RV-sharing platform, raised €7M in Series A funding led by Adevinta, with FJ Labs and All Iron Ventures also participating.

San Francisco-based mental health startup Two Chairs raised $21M in Series B funding led by Amplo, with Maveron and Goldcrest Capital also contributing.

YourZone45, a UK-based boutique fitness franchise, concluded a second round of funding and opened a flagship London location. The details of the funding round were not disclosed.

Actera Ingredients, a Newtown, PA-based cosmetic ingredient maker focused on clean beauty, secured an investment from Arcline Investment Management. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Chickpea snack brand Biena Snacks closed $8M in Series B funding led by MAW Investments, with participation from existing investors Blueberry Ventures, Centerman Capital, Tastemaker Capital, and New Ground Ventures.

Atomo Coffee, a Seattle-based molecular (beanless) coffee maker, raised $2.6M in seed funding from Horizons Ventures.

Enable My Child, an Astoria, NY-based startup providing teletherapy for kids, raised $1.2M in seed funding led by CMI Ventures.

Senai, Malaysia-based insect protein company Nutrition Technologies has raised an $8.5M Series A round led by Openspace Ventures and SEEDS Capital.

R Fitness, an Indonesia-based cycling studio previously called RIDE, landed $1.25M in seed funding from Intudo Ventures, Agaeti Venture Captial, and Sinar Mas Digital Ventures.

Amsterdam-based Shleep, a B2B sleep coaching platform, secured €1.4M from VCs including Global Founders Capital and Health Innovations.

Huron, a men’s personal care startup, raised $1M in seed funding from RXBAR founders Peter Rahal and Jared Smith, CXT Investments, and Lean Luxe founder M. Paul Munford.


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