As specialty fitness innovations explode, Hydrow entices investors to keep rowing with them.
Early-stage fitness business fundraiser Hydrow is hinting at yet another investor, one with a much bigger purse: Sandbridge X2, the investment guru targeting specialty global consumer growth products. While Hydrow – a provider of custom exercise rowboats and other fitness tools – initially generated excitement by announcing launch dollars of about $25 million, now there’s quiet speculation about what this new collaboration could involve. An estimated combined value of $1 billion is currently speculated.
Neither Hydrow nor Sandbridge leaders have offered additional comment.
Sandbridge’s role is as a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) AKA, the “blank check” investors. A Boston Business Journal report notes that first blank check was written in support of Owlet, the manufacturer of baby products. Similar investment in Hydrow would undoubtedly enhance the latter in its standings in the increasingly competitive fitness market (including against standard-bearer Peleton) while confirming savvy judgement among Sandbridge leaders.
Why sales keep rowing along
Even before COVID’s at-home isolation – and resulting global weight gain – the fitness market was exploding. Estimates in 2019 ranked this as a “$100 billion global industry”. Now between added pounds and unspent luxury dollars thanks to pandemic, consumers are even more prepped for Hydrow products and services. Besides its state-of-the-art indoor rowing machine, Hydrow offers both live and recorded exercise options online, along with hand-held equipment; e.g., yoga blocks, resistance bands, and heart-rate monitors.
Earlier this year, Hydrow CEO and Founder Bruce Smith articulated why its rowing device is a far more critical fitness tool than any indoor bicycle.
“Instead of rowing forward on a bike and diminishing your bone density,” he said. A rowing machine lets you “turn on your posterior chain and back muscles and improve your bone density.” That allegedly engages 86 percent of the exerciser’s muscles, whereas exercises like cycling report only 44 muscle engagement.
But Smith and his team knew better than to relate sales only to their equipment’s advancements in rowing specifically or even overall exercise. To truly enhance Hydrow’s recognition, they’re making sure to fight rowing’s stigma as a “white person’s” exercise. Their tool: an outreach collaboration with a “regular guy,” comedian Kevin Hart. Hart’s signed on as Hydrow’s Creative Director and Smith notes that expands market access, thanks to Hart’s breaking a preppy notion about the population of rowing’s market.
Ultimately, Smith says, “[Rowing is] a way better mouse trap and better experience for fitness.”
Though based in Baltimore, MD, Wendy J. Meyeroff has been an internationally published reporter on health, fitness, and tech for both B2B and B2C audiences for over 20 years. Among her collaborations are CBS (launching it’s consumer health site), Senior Wire News Syndicate, Vision Industry Council of America, Healthcare Informatics, Good Housekeeping and Weight Watchers.