Amid a pandemic that has closed down fitness centers worldwide, a spate of companies has muscled their way into the booming at-home fitness market.
In just the last two weeks, three-year-old Future, which promises at-home customers access to elite training, closed on $24 million in Series B funding; and Playbook, a nearly five-year-old fitness platform that helps personal trainers stream their content (and charge a monthly fee for it), raised $9.3 million in Series A funding.
Now, serial entrepreneur Jason Goldberg — who has founded a number of venture-backed startups — is taking the wraps off another live-streaming platform and marketplace. Called Moxie, it connects fitness instructors of all stripes with existing and new students, then enables them to stream classes on a subscription basis — and to keep 85 percent of the revenue for themselves.
Well, according to Goldberg, it’s all far more sophisticated than that. Indeed, Moxie’s 45 employees were working on a very different company until COVID-19 took hold in Europe and the U.S., following its initial outbreak in China. (Moxie is based in Berlin.) After some soul-searching, the team pivoted completely to fitness, and they’ve been testing and tweaking Moxie ever since.
It’s a compelling proposition, even while other startup founders are also chasing after it. While a year ago, fitness instructors spent 90 percent of their time in studio settings, they now spend 90 percent of their time teaching online, which means they need really solid tools to do their jobs well.
While earlier in the pandemic, many of them turned to Zoom, emailing students links and taking payments via Venmo, it was a janky experience for everyone involved.
With Moxie, an instructor, says Goldberg, can live stream classes, as well as record them; access playlists that Moxie has already licensed through third parties (and whose volume Moxie’s technology can dampen when an instructor is talking); and access internal customer relationship management tools that make it easy to track and communicate with students, along with automatically collect payment from them.
The benefits are resonating, according to Goldberg. He says that largely by finding and pitching instructors on Instagram, Moxie has already attracted more than 2,000 instructors of yoga, pilates, and barre-centered classes among others, and that they are now teaching more than 6,500 classes for a range of prices that the instructors can set themselves.
Classes on average apparently range in price from $5 to $10, and Goldberg says that over the last four weeks, customers have been spending an average of $60 on the platform per month. (Moxie uses Stripe for payments and AWS to store and stream video.)
Investors like Howard Morgan, Geoff Prentice, Allen Morgan who’ve backed Goldberg time and again like the idea, clearly. Along with Tencent, they’ve provided Moxie with $2.1 million in seed funding, and Goldberg suggests he’ll be ready for more capital soon.
Whether new investors will need to be convinced that Moxie is “the one,” given Goldberg’s history, remains to be seen.
As longtime industry watchers
Fitness classes for homeless people opens to public after charity founder bounces back from covid-19
Michelle Reilly, who set up Street Fit Scotland while working in a hostel in 2014, was floored by covid-19 then pleurisy for a month just after lockdown in March. The 37-year-old feared her health and fitness programme would go to the wall.But instead the charity, which runs free outdoor boot camps for rough sleepers and those living in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, is ramping up its programme and launching a new running group – open to anyone in the Capital.Ms Reilly, who shared the stage with Dame Kelly Homes MBE at a wellbeing festival this year as the athlete talked about her battles with depression, has now been awarded £40,000 by NHS and ECC for two years.Over forty people are put through their paces every week at outdoor boot camps and online sessions led by Michelle and a range of coaches. The cash will mean SFS can support more people, including those recovering from addictions.Ms Reilly, who experienced homelessness as a teenager, was terrified when she struggled to get out of bed after getting the virus and a severe chest infection. But when she found out that two people in her group had attempted suicide during lockdown, she pushed herself to get back on her feet.She said: “I was so scared about what could happen to everyone if I wasn’t there. Lockdown was hard for the group. I had my phone on 24/7 on high suicide alert. If you’re stuck in a B&B it’s not always a positive place, we help get them out. We can’t just leave people to rot. Some people in hostels or temp accommodation are terrified, it can be chaotic.””People in the group have problems but Street Fit gives them access to something fun that they can do at their own pace and they don’t feel judged. They can come in feeling rubbish and leave buzzing,”The 37-year-old lost her younger brother and cousin to suicide and addiction. She said it hit her after lockdown that physical activity and the peer-led, group support was going to be even more vital in covid-19 times, especially for those already struggling with their mental health.”Two of the group tried to take their life during lockdown. It’s heart-breaking. My cousin was always in crisis and never had consistent support. That was one of the catalysts for me, to recognise there is not enough support for mental health.””Some of the group really struggled and some still are. They will feel like that again. I think we are going to see a big wave of mental health problems. What we are doing with outdoor boot camps, the online sessions and the new walking groups gives them a coping strategy. I can see it helping to build their resilience. Behaviour does change over time, given a chance. They are helping each other through hard times.”Members now get access to phone counselling and the charity has delivered tablets for everyone to make sure
NetWerk founder Jen Ngozi. Photograph courtesy of Jen Ngozi.
Jen Ngozi is the founder of NetWerk, a group that hosts dance fitness classes for women that also double as networking events.
Ngozi, who is 30 and lives in DC, started dancing as a child. It played a large role in building her self esteem, she says: “I remember spending hours—which felt like minutes—in my room dancing. During my solo dance parties, I was convinced that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up.”
Now, Ngozi uses dance to bring women across the world together and inspire that same confidence she found as a kid. NetWerk hosts events, but also certifies women to become instructors so they can run their own workouts. “Studies show that a lack of confidence and access to networking opportunities can explain the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles,” says Ngozi. So she created the group “to give women a playful, less intimidating alternative to grow both their confidence and network.”
Between running NetWerk and prioritizing her own fitness, Ngozi is busy. Here’s how she gets it done:
“I start my days around 7 AM with prayer and gratitude exercises. This sets the tone for my entire day. It helps put my problems into perspective. I typically begin work around 8 AM. I don’t count my hours, as I’m in love with the work I do. It’s truly a privilege to not watch the clock as I work. I dance a few times a week in the evenings. With all the news surrounding the pandemic, I’ve made it a priority to maintain my fitness routine as an outlet. I converted my office into a dance studio for my home hip-hop dance-cardio workouts. I even set up my flashing party lights to set the mood. Before bed, I wind down with my nightly skincare routine. I wear a clay mask twice a week before I shower to remove any toxins from my skin. I then apply a Vitamin C serum to my face and neck before my moisturizer.
“When it comes to diet, balance is key—I focus on fresh, homemade meals. Sundays are my meal prep days, [and] I cook and plan out my meals for the entire week. As a Nigerian, our cultural dishes are my favorite to make. Nigerian dishes have lots of spices, protein, and rice. I top my meals off with lots of veggies to keep things balanced. For breakfast, I like to start my days light with fruits like bananas and mangoes, as well as cereal with lots of whole grains and fibers. For lunch, I usually have heavy stuff like my Nigerian dishes with rice, chicken, and veggies. And for dinner, I like to end my days with a light meal. My favorite is baked salmon with a side of salad and mashed potatoes and gravy. Fridays are my wine days. I allow myself a glass of sweet wine at the end of the