The home fitness craze has, predictably, died down somewhat since the height of pandemic-fueled buying sprees. Category leader Peloton is smarting from gym reopenings (among lots of other things) in a major way. Still, connected fitness predates COVID-19, and it will (knock on wood) be here after the pandemic ends.
Plenty of investors are still bullish on the category, which — like the work from home movement — still has life in it left. It also seems likely that while Peloton’s woes have scrambled the industry’s North Star, companies like Hydrow may ultimately benefit from those struggles. For one thing, it opens the field up to more players — and perhaps more importantly, no one is talking about the rumored Peloton home rowing machine anymore.
That’s no doubt been a collective sigh from the company and competitors like CityRow and Aviron. Given Peloton’s ramped-up production capacity and the amount of money it’s already spent on content, it was well positioned to take the world of home rowers by storm.
Boston-based Hyrdow this week is getting a robust vote of confidence from investors, in the form of a $55 million Series D (or, “approximately” $55 million, per the language in a release). Founder and CEO Bruce Smith uses the word “hybrid” in the release, which may well be a concession that home devices are destined to play a part of a larger workout that once again includes gyms.
“As more and more people embrace a hybrid approach to fitness, we continue to see extraordinary adoption, and our top priority is ensuring we can keep meeting that demand,” the executive says in a release. “This latest round of funding will not only allow us to do that, but will give us the opportunity to further invest in our product offering and drive innovation, so we can continue to deliver a best-in-class experience for our members.”
There’s room for growth here, certainly. Home rowers don’t have the saturation of treadmills or bikes, but by all accounts still offer a solid full body workout. Another point in their favor in the home setting is that they can be stored with (relatively) little space compared to treadmills. The company notes that it grew revenue 3x between 2020 and 2021 and now has north of 200,000 users. Of course, growth in that timeframe is likely not sustainable long term, given the current regression, but it’s a great starting point for a company bursting onto the scene.
The round was led by Constitution Capital and features L Catterton, RX3, Liberty Street, Activant Capital and Sandbridge Capital. It will be used to ramp up production and expand Hydrow’s international footprint.