There’s no shortage of fitness apps that promise to tone your muscles and boost your baseline heart rate, but a new challenger on the block claims its approach is more holistic than most. San Francisco-based Pivot today emerged from stealth with $17 million in series A funding — led by DCM with participation from Bling Capital, Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Signal Fire and Y-Combinator. The startup taps a combination of sensors and machine learning to count reps and track form in real time.
“In my own life, having someone who could teach me, inspire me, and hold me accountable made all the difference,” said founder and CEO Moawia Eldeeb, an Egyptian immigrant who worked as a personal trainer while studying computer science at Columbia University. “A workout video, even if it’s broadcast live, just doesn’t compare. That’s why Pivot is building technology to bridge the gap between the trainer and you, build that core relationship, and deliver the same hands-on guidance you’d expect from an in-person class.”
When Pivot launches sometime in Fall 2019, its service — which will include all necessary equipment, including a heart rate monitor and weights, and which will cost around $2,000 with a monthly service fee of around $39 — will provide access to live and recorded strength training, high-intensity interval training, and cardio classes from group fitness trainers. Live instructors will be able to view workout data and get alerts when participants aren’t performing exercises properly, allowing them to provide targeted feedback, and Pivot’s social features will enable users to compete with friends and other members of the community.
Pivot — which sells a B2B gym product that has captured what it claims is the world’s largest corpus of humans working out with over a million annotated workouts — notes that analysts recently pegged the U.S. fitness industry at $30 billion and that popularity of boutique fitness classes has grown 10 times in the last five years. It will compete with better-funded rivals like Peloton, which raised $550M at a valuation of $4 billion in August to further develop its range of web-connected home-fitness equipment and content, and Tonal, which in April raised $45 million for its AI-powered in-home fitness system.
But backers like DCM partner Kyle Lui assert that Pivot’s proprietary software and machine learning technology will give it a leg up on the competition. To this end, the aforementioned B2B system — SmartSpot — leverages a depth-sensing camera that records workouts and points out when users’ angles are off or their postures are misaligned. It’s able to recognize bicep curls, seated shoulder presses, lunges, front squats, bent over rows, hammer curls, and other exercises, and it collates data to show users how recent performances compared with past performances.
Pivot plans to phase out SmartSpot, a spokesperson told VentureBeat, but it will support existing customers going forward.
“Moawia and Josh are authentic to this space,” said Lui, who plans to join the company’s board of directors. “Pivot’s technology combines world-class machine learning, software, and hardware to create an at-home strength training and fitness experience comparable to what Peloton has achieved for the at-home spin experience.”
Eldeeb says the fresh capital will be used to expand recruitment across Pivot’s engineering and operations teams.