The Covid-19 pandemic has forced people around the globe to seek solutions and alternatives to activities they enjoyed with impunity before the days of social distancing. Few areas were hit harder than fitness, where the closure of some gym facilities and restrictions placed on those still able to operate have forced many people to seek workouts in new ways through the help of technology—creating a red-hot market. These three digital fitness startup companies are leading the pack when it comes to this emerging industry.
Peloton: The monster in the room has shot to prominence on the back of sleek products, appealing commercials and a rapidly growing following. Founded in 2012 and launched in 2013 with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, the company has exploded in the years since. A variety of products and services, highlighted by a stationary bike, treadmill and a subscription service that provides access to endless classes and interactive activities, highlights what they offer customers in the way of new and improved home workouts.
Peloton has discovered a successful recipe of building a coveted name brand with their quality equipment, albeit with substantial prices.
Not unlike a Starbucks or Nike, customers are drawn to the label appeal of the Peloton product as much as its convenience and utility that has become increasingly desirous. This popularity has been tied together by strong online communities on social media where competition and support abound. Various online fitness classes taught by engaging experts for each piece of equipment (they even offer extensive stretching and yoga programs) are available to subscribers, allowing them to choose their favorites and build even deeper connections. That ability to follow a fitness journey by yourself or within a vibrant online community has proven to be a winning formula.
With its stock posting nearly a $100 gain thus far in 2020, the company is still in search of its zenith. The coming year could see them go to yet another level as they are expected to release a new enhanced version of their treadmill sometime in the first quarter that will likely appeal to existing and new customers alike.
Tonal: Known as the “Peloton of digital at-home strength training,” the all-in-one machine provides users full-body workouts with digital weight capabilities up to 200 pounds, along with trained coaches and workout leaders to guide routines. Mounted on a wall, not unlike a slender television with retractable arms, it’s the most compact home gym imaginable, which taps into technology and the community aspects that have become so popular with Peloton subscribers.
Priced at $2,995 plus a monthly $49 subscriber fee, users also can shop from a wide array of branded accessories. The company was already growing nicely when the pandemic gave it an added shot in the arm. Although, it’s not yet publicly traded, they have been active in seeking new funding and could be a presence on the stock market in the future.
The San Francisco based company already has funding in excess of $310 million according to MedicalStartups.com. Having been blasted into the stratosphere this year, even bigger things are possible if they can maintain their rapid growth and continue showing users in a down economy that an expensive but dynamic home gym is something they can’t live without.
Gympass: Founded in Brazil but moved to New York, Gympass is a corporate global platform that allows companies to connect their employees to a vast network of fitness facilities and classes. Set up as a benefit service, there are various levels of membership, which all come with an accessible app that permits users to conveniently find classes and facilities in their areas that fit their interests and schedules.
Instead of buying a membership to a single gym or studio, this network allows users to sample a vast number of options and find which are their favorites. Their primary innovation is ensuring the cost of multiple memberships is no longer an obstacle lock for wannabe workout warriors from having the opportunity to finding something that truly resonates.
According to Cision PR Newswire, Gympass CEO and Co-Founder Cesar Carvalho believes “Most people know that exercise is good for them, but don’t workout due to their financial situation, or because they haven’t yet found an activity they enjoy. At Gympass, we believe pleasure beats pressure, and the more access to options you are able to offer, the more likely a program is to succeed.”
Gympass has continued to raise more funds and move to different markets. The company remains public but has in excess of $300 million in funding, making it an emerging player. In 2019, they announced that they had 2,000 clients in 14 countries with access to more than 47,000 gyms and studios. The continued emphasis employers are placing on the health and well being of their workers will only drive more business to services like this, where being an early innovator gives them an obvious leg up.
The current pandemic has left a wide swath of death and destruction in its path. As the world continues to fight it and pick up the pieces, there have fortunately been some ways society has changed for the better. The surge of digital fitness is one of those positives, and given the toehold they are making now, it appears it is here to stay.