As CES goes hybrid, connected fitness companies have another big year – TechCrunch

CES was not traditional It was the healthiest week for me. Aside from some unintentional intermittent fasting, TechCrunch has a habit of doing so with our cast dinner on the show, to say nothing of Matt’s semi-religious devotion to a Mexican venue called Tacos & Beer.

In my defense, I will say that there has never been a year that I haven’t thought of my step count multiple times on each day of the show. Walk around the auditorium of the Las Vegas Convention Center would do that for a tech journalist. This year, of course, my stride suffered, as TechCrunch opted to virtually attend the show, amid omicron-related concerns.

If I’m being honest, those same concerns made me wonder if I should go back to the gym, too. I’m sure I’m not alone in that either. While it’s true that companies like Peloton have seen declines like gyms and the like have seen reopening late last year, this pandemic is far from over. And the idea of ​​being in a cramped room with a group of heavy breathing people seems less than ideal, even if it’s currently too cold to do a lot of exercise outside in many parts of the country.

It’s always hard to predict the longevity of these kinds of trends, but it’s pretty safe to say that the past few years have proven fundamentally changing the home fitness world. I’ve personally talked to several people who don’t plan on going back to the gym after all of this is over (well, assuming that’s all over already, I guess). This isn’t a complete epidemiological view of the pandemic, of course — companies like Peloton and Mirror were gaining a lot of momentum before many of us knew what the novel coronavirus was.

Of course, when it rains, these things pour. My inbox has been bombarded with home fitness services for the past two years. Clearly as many companies as possible are looking to capitalize on this moment, and between Peloton’s earnings and transactions like Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror, how can they be blamed? We definitely saw a slight uptick at virtual CES the whole last year, but in 2022, it’s impossible to avoid.

Like any super-hot tech class, only a few will survive. Peloton was set to loom over the event in more ways than one, including with a keynote speech by CEO John Foley — although the fitness brand joined a long list of companies earlier this week that chose not to the audience. Despite these concerns, there were plenty of products willing to fill that void.

Image credits: LG

LG’s offering in this category was more conceptual than practical. If anything, the company’s stationary bike was designed to show how curved screen technology can be incorporated into home fitness. Given the size of the product, it seemed like a pretty solid indictment for itself, given that space and price are a premium for many looking to outfit their home with exercise equipment.

I’m frankly surprised we didn’t get more attempts to confuse the term “metaverse” in this year’s home fitness pitches. The VR Fitness Liteboxer app wins the award there. “The dawn of the metaverse signals the demand for a deeper sense of connection,” co-founder and CEO Jeff Morin said in a statement. “Virtual reality exercises connect people in a way that is more meaningful than a 2D screen on a tablet, phone or computer. With a VR headset and your will to win, anyone can now exercise anywhere in the world with the best trainers, tracks and fitness techniques physical.”

The word “meta” was mentioned four times in the previous statement. In this case, it appears to be used somewhat interchangeably with the term “VR,” since that’s a title for the Quest 2 headset. Liteboxer VR arrives at the Quest Store on March 3, and will run at $19 per month for a subscription.

Echelon showed off its EX-8s Connect bike, designed to take on the high-end Peloton bike, cutting the product down just a bit at $2,399. That’s a high price for a company that also makes uber-affordable products for Walmart. That price will give you, among other things, a 24-inch 1080p curved screen and customizable wheel projection. It is due to arrive later this month.

Image credits: WonderciseWondercise is the premier software solution. The company aims to offer a platform designed to connect workout enthusiasts remotely and break some of the isolation that comes from switching from the gym to the home. According to the company’s press materials:

The live leaderboard displays scores based on one’s style, creating a fun atmosphere in the sessions. The energy bars and colorful on-screen profiles are intentionally designed to make the experience feel like a game, adding a competitive dimension to the workouts. Wondercise focuses on bringing the Internet of Things to the fitness industry so that everyone can get the performance analytics and data they need, wherever they work.

Although the home equipment category is crowded, it’s nothing compared to software-first solutions, and Wondercise will compete directly with the big names, including Apple and Samsung.

Meanwhile, Hydrow was one of the main companies representing home rowing. It’s a category beyond the saturated world of treadmills and bikes and key to achieving some real growth. Rowing machines offer a more intense workout than bikes, although they generally burn fewer calories. Peloton is rumored to be getting into the rowing machine game, but for now Hydrow is looming large as the big name in the space.

Read more about CES 2022 at TechCrunch

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