As connected equipment fizzles, fitness gaming is just getting started.
The latest: UK-based fitness gaming startup Quell raised $10M in a Series A round led by Tencent, with participation from Khosla Ventures, entrepreneur Naval Ravikant, and others. Long in development, it’ll begin fulfilling pre-orders for its gaming system later this year.
What it is: Quell develops hardware and software purpose-built for an immersive fitness experience.
Equipped with motion- and biometric-tracking joysticks attached to the abdomen with resistance bands, players use their “body as a controller” to navigate—punch, squat, etc.—Quell’s debut fantasy game, Shardfall.
Tencent’s Dr Ling Ge, a Quell board member, says the platform can set a high bar for a nascent industry that has, to date, missed the mark:
“Until now, fitness gaming was an undeveloped sector, providing either a great gaming or fitness experience, but never both… by refusing to sacrifice entertainment [n]or exercise, [Quell’s Impact console] provides a consistently entertaining, exhilarating home fitness experience.”
Fitness 3.0. A weak point for connected fitness companies like Peloton — their core offering is also available at the gym. But, from Zwift’s esports empire to proprietary bikes, rowers, and headsets, fitness gaming may have more staying power.
- In late 2021, German fitness app Freeletics launched an AI-enabled strength gaming system called STÆDIUM.
- PlayPulse, a Norwegian gamified stationary bike powering original video games, begins shipping its first units this April and is currently crowdfunding.
- US-based gamified rowing startup Ergatta recently entered the UK, Germany, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, and Ireland.
- At CES 2023, Dutch fitness mirror maker FITTAR unveiled Smart Box, an exergaming motion-capture device similar to Tempo Move and Peloton Guide.
In the VR fitness realm, Les Mills partnered with Spain’s Odders Lab to bring its BODYCOMBAT boxing workout into the metaverse, while Meta (fka Facebook) acquired Within, makers of virtual exercise platform Supernatural, after a US antitrust lawsuit was thrown out.
Looking ahead: A kingmaker of both group fitness and gaming, the platform with the best experience and most engaged community wins.