AI home gym equipment startup Tempo raises $60 million | VentureBeat

by fitness journalist

Home fitness startup Tempo today closed a $60 million round to ramp up manufacturing of its $1,995 AI-powered gym system. In addition to bolstering its go-to-market efforts, Tempo says it will use the funds to expand its content offering with a second production studio.

Shelter-in-place orders and office closures motivated by the pandemic sent fitness equipment sales skyrocketing over the past few months. A report commissioned by eBay found that between March and April of this year, home gym sales increased up to 20 times in some categories compared with the same time frame last year. NPD Group reported that in March alone, fitness equipment sales rose 130% year-over-year, with benches up a whopping 259%.

Tempo has also benefited from the boom. The company says sales have increased nearly 500% since preorders launched in February, and it’s on track to end 2020 with a $100 million run rate.

Tempo’s weight training system, which requires a $39 monthly subscription, counts reps and calories burned and offers real-time technique corrections and weight lifting suggestions. Its 3D infrared sensors can scan users’ movements 30 times per second for performance tracking and feedback, viewable from the 42-inch display. And it comes with “competition-grade” barbells, dumbbells, change plates ranging from 7.5 pounds to 100 pounds, and accessories like a workout mat and recovery roller.

Above: The Tempo trainer experience.

Tempo’s machine learning algorithms help plan workouts tailored to an individual user’s progress. During live classes, instructors are notified when a user makes a mistake, enabling them to provide guidance in real time. To further motivate fitness enthusiasts, a live leaderboard allows them to compete with friends and others and to request personalized weight recommendations that take into account their overall experience level.

Tempo’s classes — which are available live and on-demand and are led by National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified trainers — combine traditional weight lifting with high-intensity training intervals (HIIT) for full-body workouts based on accepted sports science principles. Optional trainer-curated programs deliver a sequence of courses designed to target different muscle groups daily, while algorithms track progress to inform the system’s feedback features.

The version of Tempo’s software that will ship to early adopters can recognize bicep curls, seated shoulder presses, lunges, front squats, bent over rows, hammer curls, and other exercises while simultaneously collating data to show users how recent performances compared with past efforts. It’s powered by a data set captured by Tempo’s successor system, SmartSpot, which contains over 1 million tagged workout sessions.

Tempo ships directly from, and beginning next month it will also be available for purchase from Best Buy. The company hopes to have its system in 250 locations by the end of the year and in properties developed by Tishman Speyer, which Tempo announced a partnership with today.

The series B round that closed this week and brings Tempo’s total capital raised to roughly $80 million was led by Norwest Venture Partners and General Catalyst, along with return investors Founders Fund, SignalFire, DCM, Y Combinator, and Bling Capital. As part of the round, Norwest’s Edward Yip and General Catalyst’s Holly Maloney will join San Francisco-based Tempo’s board.

Tempo notes that analysts recently pegged the U.S. fitness industry at $30 billion and that the popularity of boutique fitness classes has grown 10 times in the last five years. The startup will compete with better-funded rivals like Peloton, which in August 2019 raised $550 million at a valuation of $4 billion to further develop its web-connected home fitness equipment and content, and Tonal, which last April raised $45 million for its AI-powered in-home fitness system. Meanwhile, Vi raked in $20 million to expand availability of its earbuds and AI-powered running coach products.

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