- VAHA launched in Germany in 2019 and is the first interactive fitness mirror to debut in the UK – ahead of US rivals Mirror, Tempo, Tonal and Forme.
- The startup has completed three funding rounds to date, receiving significant investment from influential funds including Porsche Ventures in Germany and Unbound in the UK.
- The company’s goal is to be used by 10,000 customers by the end of 2021.
- “I think it’s important to show that there’s a lot of innovation and great fitness solutions created in the UK, in Germany and across Europe,” says Founder Valerie Bures.
MUNICH, Germany — German-based fitness tech company VAHA has announced the launch of the first interactive fitness mirror to debut in the UK.
The device, which is also available in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, has beaten a host of US rivals, including connected fitness brands Mirror and Tonal, to be the first to tap into the British market.
VAHA X, priced at £1,950, is an interactive full-length mirror that doubles as a virtual personal trainer. For a rolling monthly subscription of £39, users can access live PT sessions, group classes and over 200 on-demand workouts, ranging from HIIT to yoga.
The company has also released a slightly more compact and affordable VAHA S model, exclusive to the UK, retailing at £1,150. By comparison, the price for VAHA’s US rivals ranges from £1,088 (Mirror) up to £2,180 (Tonal).
Both VAHA mirrors are built with integrated motion tracking – currently in beta but intended to be released soon – which enables the device to analyse a user’s movements during workouts to effectively tailor every session to their ability, whether live or on-demand.
A one-stop-shop for home fitness
VAHA arrives in the UK after a successful launch in Germany, which coincided with the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in March last year. As the product celebrates its first birthday, it aims to provide UK users with a one-stop-shop for their home fitness needs, all from the comfort of their living rooms.
Commenting on the timing of the UK launch, VAHA founder Valerie Bures said: “Home fitness has never been more important. We want to help people around the world take their home workouts to the next level and bringing VAHA to a market as important as the UK is a big step towards that goal.”
Although VAHA first launched in 2019, the product is a culmination of a decade of research and development, Bures told Welltodo.
Having previously co-founded Europe’s largest women’s fitness chain Mrs Sporty, with tennis great Steffi Graf, Bures went on to launch a digital physiotherapy product called Pixformance, which is now in use in more than 600 fitness studios and hospitals in 11 different countries.
This first-hand experience of the fitness industry led to Bures developing the VAHA device. Now she believes this extensive experience will give her company the edge over the competition in a rapidly growing category.
“Because we started with Pixformance in 2011 we’re probably the worldwide player with the longest experience in the connected fitness field,” Bures said. “Our heritage comes from a more medical and physiotherapy standpoint, rather than the entertainment-orientated way other players have been approaching connected fitness.
“Now we are combining both worlds – accuracy and precision with entertainment and motivation.”
A huge opportunity for corporate wellness
Since Bures founded the company in 2019, VAHA has grown to a team of more than 110 employees, and recently closed a Series B funding round which attracted investment from Porsche Ventures and London investment firm Unbound. Germany and Bayern Munich footballer Manuel Neuer has also joined the company as a partner.
VAHA is currently focused on direct-to-consumer sales in the UK, although the company does have B2B partnerships in Germany, and Bures believes there is a huge opportunity for corporate deals to be struck. Incidentally, the device is also compatible with a series of third-party apps including Instagram, TikTok and even Zoom for home-based team meetings.
However, the motion tracking feature is what will make VAHA stand out from the competition. There is an opportunity for the device’s AI to identify differences in body shape and limitations in mobility. It could even work for people with disabilities to provide a better experience than the one-size-fits-all approach to home workouts.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell the world since 2011,” said Bures. “There’s so much technology out there that we can use to improve the experience of the customer which is still untapped.
“Every player will need to find their niche to use the future of technology to improve the experience of the customer. The better we do that, the more we stay ahead.”
Paving the way for US rivals
While VAHA is just breaking into the UK market, in the US, connected strength training device Tonal has just raised $250 million in new funding, valuing the business at $1.6 billion.
And less than a year ago, buoyed by the adoption of home workouts in response to the pandemic, athleisure powerhouse lululemon acquired connected device Mirror in a deal worth $500 million.
Asked if she was worried that VAHA’s arrival in the UK could pave the way for US rivals to swoop in, Bures said she’d welcome the competition. “I’ve been the CEO of Mrs Sporty, a huge fitness chain with 550 clubs across Europe, so I’m used to being in an industry where there are a lot of players,” she said.
“It might seem like there are only two or three leading players [in the connected fitness market]worldwide, but I think it’s just a question of time before it explodes,” Bures added, predicting rivals could emerge from territories you wouldn’t expect.
“I think it’s important to show that there’s a lot of innovation and great fitness solutions created in the UK, in Germany and across Europe.”
Bures admitted the greatest threat to her company right now is apathy. “Our main competition right now is the sofa,” she said. “We need to get people off it and to help them find their daily flow.”
Adding: “With VAHA, that’s our mission. We want to help people achieve their flow through fitness every day.”