SoftBank to Invest More Than $100 Million in Barbell-Based At-Home Fitness Startup Tempo

April 6, 2021 by
Photo Credit: Tempo
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Japanese holding company SoftBank is set to invest more than $100 million in fitness startup Tempo, “The Information” reported. The two-year-old company has a goal of challenging Tonal, Mirror, and Peloton in the at-home fitness market, and it will attempt to do so with exercise equipment and a touchscreen. 

One big thing: Tempo sells at-home workout tech that range in price between $2,500 to $4,000. The element that makes the Tempo system stand out from others is that it features actual barbells and dumbbells, along with the touchscreen that plays workout instruction videos and holds live classes. There is a required 12-month membership commitment at the cost of $39 per month.  

  • According to “Fast Company,the touchscreen device sits inside an armoire that also holds a mat, weights ranging from 7.5 to 100 pounds, a foam roller, a heart rate monitor, and other pieces of equipment.
  • Users can attend one of several live classes per day and virtually compete with other athletes as part of the subscription. They can also access hundreds of pre-recorded classes that range in length. 

An emphasis on barbells and dumbbells is nothing new for programs in the CrossFit space. Multiple Games athletes highlight the equipment with their own online programs and call for movements seen during the Open or in a standard CrossFit class. Having a company outside of the space also use the equipment for thrusters or other movements is rarer. 

  • Street Parking, created by Julian and Miranda Alcarez, incorporates several pieces of equipment into the daily workouts. The company also offers special strength and Olympic lifting programs for customers wanting to focus on specific parts of their fitness. 
  • Five-time CrossFit Games champion Mat Fraser just released his own program in partnership with Hybrid. The HWPO Training Program requires a rack, barbell, plates, dumbbells, and other equipment. 
  • Josh Bridges incorporates kettlebells, barbells, and other equipment into his Bridges Physical Programming. The sample workouts include squat snatches, strict presses, and manmakers. 

A new approach: While Peloton requires an exercise bike and Mirror uses the customer’s reflection, Tempo tracks movement with its 3D technology. The touchscreen shows a detailed 3D model of the customer doing the various exercises. The AI then tracks form and makes recommendations, calling for different weights or other adjustments. 

  • The exact new valuation of Tempo remains unknown after the influx of new money. “BNN Bloomberg” reports that it is expected to be less than $1 billion. Tempo previously received $60 million in Series B funding led by General Catalyst and Norwest Ventures. 

Why this matters: The at-home fitness market has increased dramatically amid the shutdowns of traditional gyms and CrossFit boxes that began in March 2020 with COVID-19. These facilities are slowly beginning to open once again, but there is a growing trend of people continuing to work out at home. The result is that more companies are investing in products that provide options for this customer base. 

  • Tonal recently raised an estimated $260 million in new funding, giving the company a $1.6 billion valuation. 
  • Lululemon acquired Mirror last summer for $500 million. The fitness company brought in $170 million in revenue in 2020 and projects to reach $275 million in 2021. 
  • Peloton has more than quadrupled its stock price since going public in 2019. The company recorded its first billion-dollar quarter after sales increased by 128% during its second fiscal quarter in 2021. Now the company aims to bring in $4 billion during the 2021 fiscal year. 

Bottom line: All four of these companies offer different styles of fitness for those more comfortable in their homes due to COVID-19 and potential health concerns. They serve as continued evidence that people are embracing at-home fitness options, as well as the lucrative market that exists for multiple companies. Tempo is going in a slightly different direction by incorporating equipment seen at traditional gyms and CrossFit boxes. 

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