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The health club industry generates around $83 billion in revenue globally each year, according to figures from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), with 162 million members visiting 200,000 gyms and fitness centers around the world.
Keeping fit, it seems, is big business. And that is why myriad fitness-focused startups are securing cash from venture capitalists the world over.
The latest such company is New York-based Mirror, which said that it’s setting out to “revolutionize in-home workouts,” and which has now raised $13 million from Spark Capital, Lerer Hippeau, First Round Capital, Primary Venture Partners, BoxGroup, and Brainchild Holdings.
Stealth and fitness
Mirror is still in stealth, with an anticipated launch of sometime this spring, but we do know that the company plans to bring the “boutique studio experience” into your home, serving access to a changing selection of both live and on-demand classes across cardio, yoga, strength training, and more. However, this will be more than an app that you install on your phone, tablet, or TV — the setup constitutes a physical “responsive display,” which suggests it won’t be for those on a budget.
This “display” is actually a full-length mirror that consists of an LCD display, surround-sound speakers, camera, and microphone for two-way interactions during live classes. The company also promises that every workout can be performed within the confines of a yoga mat, so you shouldn’t require any further equipment.
So, when Mirror is turned on, it’s a gateway to a virtual gym. And when it’s off, well, it’s a mirror.
That’s pretty much all we know about Mirror for now, though we do know that the brainchild behind the initiative is Brynn Putnam, an ex-ballet dancer who went on to form the New York-based boutique gym brand Refine Method in 2010. With that $13 million in the bank, she said she plans to accelerate product development and expand its own original fitness-focused content.
“After decades on the front lines of fitness, I have seen first-hand the critical need for an at-home fitness option that doesn’t require compromising quality for convenience,” Putnam said. “Mirror addresses that need by delivering the variety, personalization and interactivity of the studio experience directly into members’ homes.”
Anyone who has attempted home exercise will know that garnering the necessary motivation to achieve a full and intensive domestic workout can be something of a challenge, but if Putnam can help truly replicate the gym experience in your home, there is undoubtedly a lot of money to be made here — especially for time-pressured individuals who want the freedom to work out on a whim and to their own schedule.
“Brynn and her team are innovating in new ways across content, software, and hardware,” added Spark Capital general partner Kevin Thau. “Mirror is positioned to become the leading platform for personalized in-home fitness and wellness.”
Fellow New York-based fitness startup Aaptiv recently announced $38 million in funding to grow its audio-based fitness programs, while the U.K.’s Fiit recently raised around $3 million for a similar-sounding platform to Mirror’s proposition. Brick-and-mortar gym platforms have nabbed investment too, with the likes of ClassPass raising $70 million last year to help users find fitness classes nearby.
Until Mirror reveals more details such as pricing, product specifications, and so on, we’ll have to reserve judgement on it.
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