How Ponzu Is Bringing The Personal Touch Back To At-Home Fitness

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  • Online wellbeing platform set to focus on live 1-2-1 PT and bespoke training plans over on-demand classes typically offered by at-home fitness brands. 
  • Decision follows survey that finds pre-recorded workout content fails to motivate and engage, with 53% fearing they are working out incorrectly and 39% losing motivation completely mid-class. 
  • “The evidence is clear that people who have a personalised plan and a trainer to motivate them get far better results than those fending for themselves,” CEO and Co-founder Godfrey Critien told Welltodo 
  • Company has completed two pre-Seed rounds raising “in the low hundred thousands”, with a Seed round planned for mid 2022. 

LONDON, United Kingdom — Bucking the trend of on-demand and pre-recorded workout programmes, this year online wellbeing platform Ponzu is doubling down on live and interactive 1-2-1 training ahead of a planned Seed investment round, its CEO told Welltodo. 

Having launched at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ponzu has built a loyal following among the 58% of fitness enthusiasts who haven’t felt safe returning to a physical gym. 

The platform, which connects users with experienced fitness and wellbeing professionals for live workout classes online, has helped members exercise from the comfort of their own homes throughout the past two lockdown-hit years. 

Now, with two pre-Seed raises under its belt, the startup is planning to focus on 1-2-1 coaching and personalised plans, setting itself apart from high-growth connected fitness brands like Peloton and on-demand workout platforms such as Fiit. 

How Ponzu Is Bringing The Personal Touch Back To At-Home Fitness

Image: Ponzu

Personalised at-home fitness
Ponzu was first conceived in 2017 by CEO Godfrey Critien. A former Major in the Army Reserve, Critien spotted an opportunity to build a live, expert-led workout platform that championed personal engagement, accountability and motivation. 

When the pandemic struck in early 2020, Critien seized his chance to reach users online and launched Ponzu, converting real-life exercise classes onto a platform that promoted a sociable and engaging environment. 

“Ponzu is a space that allows time-poor individuals to access live classes led by leading instructors in the comfort and safety of their own homes,” Critien said. The platform is also designed to offer classes at an accessible price point.

Membership ranges from £10-80 per month. Users earn credits to access 1-2-1 and group classes with the platform’s premium fitness professionals, including Pilates, yoga, strength, cardio, stretch and PT. 

Following two years of stable growth that has coincided with the $49.5 billion fitness technology category exploding in popularity — and competition Ponzu will be focusing on providing more 1-2-1 personalised training plans and workouts. 

“Each personalised plan is created from firsthand research that shows convenience and accountability are key factors for getting and staying in shape,” Critien continued. 

A recent Ponzu survey found that pre-recorded workout content fails to motivate and engage — with 53% fearing they are working out incorrectly and 39% losing motivation completely mid-class. 

How Ponzu Is Bringing The Personal Touch Back To At-Home Fitness

Image: Ponzu

Seed funding round
Once updated later this month, Ponzu’s website will connect users with their ideal instructor based on their lifestyle, habits and goals. 

This instructor, contactable via WhatsApp and Zoom, will then tailor the user’s programme to help them achieve optimum results, all while providing regular accountability and engagement. 

“The evidence is clear that people who have a personalised plan and a trainer to motivate them get far better results than those fending for themselves,” Critien said, adding that Ponzu’s model lends itself perfectly to our now accepted hybrid way of working and exercising. 

Critien said the company will look to raise Seed investment around the middle of 2022. “We had two pre-Seed rounds in 2020 and 2021 which raised in the low hundred thousands at a valuation in the low millions,” he said. 

“If you look at the likes of Weld and Class-ify, they have both raised at valuations in the region of £3-5 million. The numbers we have are similar so the potential is there.” 

While the market will always be dominated by high-profile brands like Peloton, Critien said he believes the “live, personalised service” platforms such as the one Ponzu offers will keep its retention rates high and help build real relationships that last. 

“Now everyone has become accustomed to exercising online, it really opens up the market to reach people who don’t and never did like the gym,” Critien added.

“The real challenge for the sector will be getting those people to start exercising and keep coming back for more. That’s where the prize is and because we have a lot more touchpoints with our users — via Whatsapp, Zoom, our platform — we’re better able to reach our users and keep them feeling supported and on track.”

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