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Conducting an APK teardown of the latest version of the Peloton Android app, 9to5Google found evidence the company is preparing the software to support a rowing machine in the near future. The outlet found various code snippets that mentioned a device codenamed “Caesar” and “Mazu.” The latter is a reference to a Chinese sea goddess. Like the company’s stationary bike, it appears the rowing machine will include a “scenic rides” feature that will showcase waterways from around the globe. And if you want to just row, that will be an option too.
Another set of snippets reference the four positions of a proper rowing technique. “This is the drive position of your stroke,” the app explains. “Sit tall on the rower with your arms straight and your back upright. Your knees should be just above the ankles.” Digging deeper into the updated software, 9to5 also found code suggesting the app will track metrics like your average and max stroke rates.
A rowing machine is something Peloton has been rumored to be working for a while now, with a recent job listing mentioning the device. We’ve reached out to Peloton for confirmation, but we’ll note here what we say with all APK teardowns: the fact there’s code pointing to a new hardware release doesn’t mean a company will follow through on that work or that a launch is imminent.
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Engadget.
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Obé Fitness’ co-founders/co-CEOs Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills toss around the word “entertrainment” a lot. For the record, it’s not a reference to the Butler County, Ohio-based amusement park that serves as the home of the “world’s largest train display,” but rather one of those industry portmanteaus like infotainment or webinar.
Here it’s meant to be a reference to what the New York-based company sees as its principle differentiator from an increasingly crowded market. Mills describes it as “where entertainment and fitness meet. Talent is key to that. Not also being able to cast talent that can deliver a great workout, but they also have that X Factor. They have the ability to reach across the screen and make you feel something at home.”
The company has been building up an audience of influencers as well, including Kelly Ripa, Kate Hudson and Tiffany Haddish, the latter of whom participated in the $15 million Series A the company is announcing today.
“The capital is really about team growth and awareness in a couple of key business development initiatives,” says Mullett. “In the current climate, where everyone is talking about their various home workouts, you definitely need resources to grow. So this round is about getting Obé in front of as many people as possible.”
The round was led by CAVU Venture Partners and features Athleta, Samsung Next, Wheelhouse Entertainment and WW International, Inc., along with previous investors Cassius Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment and BDMI.
It’s a pretty diverse list of parties with a diverse list of interests in the platform — take Samsung, which currently offers the Obé platform on its smart TVs. Users can also access it on iOS and Android devices and cast it accordingly to their TV sets.
Obé (pronounced “Obey”) bills itself as a “premium” service. At $27, it’s certainly at the higher end, verses offerings like the $10/month Apple Fitness+ or Peleton’s $13 monthly fee. Unlike Peloton, which has proprietary equipment attached, Obé actually skipped the equipment altogether at launch, though it has slowly expanded its offerings to include things like free weights and trampolines for its bounce classes — equipment that’s a bit more forgiving in smaller spaces.
Founded in 2018, the company saw a large increase in users during the pandemic. While Obé doesn’t disclose subscriber counts, its founders told me the platform’s userbase increased 4x last year.
“We started this company three and a half years ago,” says Mullett. “When COVID hit in March of 2020, our team, our talent, our interface — everyone was ready to receive the rush of new users who needed to be sated by movement and by someone who could keep them inspired, sane and confident during a difficult time.”
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As the world takes its first steps back to relative normalcy, there remains a major question mark around how profoundly our day-to-day is going to be changed for good. Nowhere does that question loom larger than fitness. Connected home machines have undergone a seismic shift over the past year, but once gyms safely reopen, how much will that industry peter out?
The likeliest answer is that there will be some leveling off in the long run. However, investors still see a lot of growth potential in the category, extending beyond now-major players like Peloton, Mirror and Tonal. New York-based Ergatta is the latest to receive some of that windfall, announcing a $30 million Series A this morning.
This latest round — led by Advanced Venture Partners with participation from Greycroft, Fifth Wall, Gaingels and Hans Tung (GGV) — brings the company’s total funding up to $35 million, including a $5 million seed round raised in July of last year. Ergatta says the funding will go toward developing new content, competition and social features for its platform.
The company’s primary hardware is a rowing machine. Built out of cherry wood in the U.S., the machine certainly offers a warmer aesthetic than a lot of home workout equipment. It’s a nice touch for people who don’t want a big, industrial-looking piece of equipment in their bedroom. Content-wise, the platform is built around a gamified exercise content. It’s a similar approach to the one we’ve seen from the earlier-stage, YC-backed Aviron.
“We are creating a new paradigm for digital fitness content that leverages games and competition, rather than instructors,” co-founder and CEO Tom Aulet said in a press release tied to the news. “Our mission is to bring daily fitness within reach for our members by putting the individual in control and creating compelling, personalized programming that adapts to their fitness level, driving consistent fitness behavior over time.”
The $2,200 Ergatta Rower features a touchscreen display that offers up competitions with other users and goal-driven workouts.
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