* H1 revenues suffered as empty gyms postpone orders
* Home fitness equipment sales jumped 50% in H1
* Home & Consumer sales could rise to 50% of total
* Sees pandemic opening up new business opportunities
MILAN, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Italian fitness-equipment maker Technogym is working to supply more of its exercise machines and virtual trainers to peoples’ homes to offset a drop in sales to gyms and studios due to the pandemic.
Restrictions to contain the new coronavirus, or even just fears of contagion, have prompted many people to give up training at their local gym. Italy has not ruled out closing gyms and swimming pools again to fight a COVID-19 resurgence.
“We are seeing a strong acceleration in the home fitness segment,” Technogym founder and Chief Executive Nerio Alessandri told Reuters in an interview.
Technogym has been the official supplier of the last seven Olympic games and its client book includes several top soccer clubs. Alessandri said the company had been selling equipment to professional athletes stuck at home.
It also received an order from a big company that bought a “Technogym package” for its staff, offering employees working from home training programmes and equipment.
“We think that the Home & Consumer segment could come to represent around 50% of our total revenues in four years from now. And profit margins match those of the professional segment,” added Alessandri, 59.
Companies such as exercise bike business Peloton have successfully tapped into the home workout market as people try to stay fit during lockdowns.
Technogym, which supplies equipment to gyms, hotels and spas in around 100 countries, can offer home-friendly products. An “entry level” treadmill costs 3,250 euros ($3,850) and an exercise bike 2,950 euros.
In September, Technogym reported that first-half revenue fell to 222 million euros from 295 million a year earlier. By contrast, the group recorded a jump in sales of its home fitness equipment.
Sales of exercise machines and online training programmes directly to customers soared by 50% in the first half. They now account for 30% of group revenues, twice the level of 2019.
Alessandri said Technogym would invest to support growth at its home fitness division, using budget savings linked to the cancellations of trade fairs and business trips due to COVID-19.
He said the pandemic had impressed upon people the importance of keeping fit, and he pointed to a boom in medical fitness centres, which combine healthcare and gym facilities.
“We see new markets opening up,” he said. “People are increasingly aware that good health is the true luxury.” ($1 = 0.8442 euros) (Reporting by Elisa Anzolin; editing by Valentina Za and Jane Merriman)
With thousands of gyms across the country forced to close during the pandemic, there’s been an unprecedented opportunity for fitness companies pitching an at-home solution. This moment has propelled public companies like Peloton to stratospheric highs — its market cap is about to eclipse $40 billion — but it has also pushed venture capitalists toward plenty of deals in the fitness space.
Future launched with a bold sell for consumers: a $150 per month subscription app that virtually teamed users with a real-life fitness coach. Leaning on the health-tracking capabilities of the Apple Watch, the startup has been aiming to build a platform that teams motivation, accountability and fitness insights.
Close to 18 months after announcing a Series A led by Kleiner Perkins, the startup tells TechCrunch they’ve closed a $24 million Series B led by Trustbridge Partners, with Caffeinated Capital and Kleiner Perkins participating again.
Amid the at-home fitness boom, Future has seen major growth of its own. CEO Rishi Mandal says that the company’s growth rate has tripled in recent months as thousands of gyms closed their doors. He says shelter-in-place has merely accelerated an ongoing shift toward tech-forward fitness services that can help busy users find time during their day to exercise.
”The operating thesis of the company is that modern life is inherently crazy not just during pandemic times but in normal times,” Mandal says. “The idea of having a set routine is a complete fallacy.”
At $149 per month, Future isn’t aiming for mass market appeal the same way other digital fitness programs being produced by Peloton, Fitbit or Apple are. It seems to be more squarely aimed at users who could be a candidate for getting a personal trainer but might not be ready to make the investment or don’t need the guided instruction so much as they need general guidelines and some accountability.
As the startup closes on more funding, the team has big goals to expand its network. Mandal aims to have 1,000 coaches on the Future platform by this time next year. Reaching new scales could give the service a chance to tackle new challenges. Mandal sees opportunities for Future to expand its coaching services beyond fitness as it grows, “There’s a real opportunity to help people with all aspects of their health.”