NordicTrack Is Making Its Own Connected Fitness Mirror

Illustration for article titled NordicTrack Is Making Its Own Connected Fitness Mirror

Screenshot: NordicTrack

At-home fitness is having a moment due to the global pandemic, and connected gym equipment makers are struggling to keep up with demand. While you probably know NordicTrack best for its treadmills, the company is launching one of a smart workout mirrors—sort of like the Lululemon-owned Mirror, but with a slight twist.

The NordicTrack Vault is like if Mirror and JaxJox’s Interactive Studio had a child. Essentially, it’s a connected mirror that displays on-demand iFit workouts, that then opens up to reveal a carbon steel locker that can hold a bunch of dumbbells, kettlebells, yoga blocks, and resistance bands. The Vault itself has a 60- by 22-inch rotating mirror, inside of which is a 32-inch HD touchscreen.

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There are two versions of the Vault. The Complete version is a whopping $3,000 and includes a year of iFit family membership, an exercise mat, two yoga blocks, three loop bands, three super resistance bands, 5- to 30-pound dumbbells, 20- and 30-pound kettlebells, premium shelves, hanging shelves, and a cleaning towel. There’s also a Standalone version, which is slightly cheaper at $2,000. While it includes the same one-year subscription, it lacks the rest of the equipment, aside from a towel and hanging shelves. Both versions also require a $200 delivery fee, and are available for preorder now with an expected shipping date of Feb. 12.

This is definitely a shift for NordicTrack, as it’s most commonly associated with cardio equipment. It’s not the company’s only announcement for CES, however.

iFit, the fitness streaming platform on connected NordicTrack equipment, is also introducing automatic heart rate training. The software is dubbed iFit ActivePulse and will basically adjust the speed and incline on a treadmill based on a user’s heart rate. This is most useful for folks who are into heart rate zone training, and iFit says its algorithms will “gradually learn” a user’s behavioral patterns over time. The feature will come via a software update this month and will work on all iFit-compatible NordicTrack, ProForm, and Freemotion treadmills. The feature is planned to roll out to stationary bikes, rowers, and ellipticals “soon.” Obviously, ActivePulse does require some sort of heart rate monitor. iFit says it’ll be compatible with its own heart rate monitor, the iFit SmartBeat, as well as third-party Bluetooth monitors from Polar, Garmin, Wahoo, and Whoop.

This is an interesting update as it adds a bit more oomph to otherwise fairly basic treadmills. NordicTrack and Echelon are often go-to options for “cheaper” fitness equipment that still come with their own on-demand subscription, while also allowing users the possibility of choosing other on-demand services like Peloton’s app or Fitness+. (After all, who, in this economy, has the $4,000 to drop on Peloton’s Tread+?)

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In any case, it doesn’t look like the at-home fitness trend is going away any time soon.

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Maybe Now Peloton Orders Won’t Take So Long

Illustration for article titled Maybe Now Peloton Orders Wont Take So Long

Photo: Scott Heins/Stringer (Getty Images)

This year may not have started off so great for Peloton, but the company’s fortunes have since reversed thanks to a surge of interest in at-home fitness during the pandemic. Popularity can be a double-edged sword, however, as Peloton has struggled to keep up with demand, resulting in delivery delays and long wait times. But even that might soon ease up: On Monday, the company announced it’s plunking down $420 million to acquire Precor, one of the world’s largest commercial fitness equipment makers.

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This is big news in terms of Peloton’s supply chain. By snapping up Precor, Peloton is essentially gaining Precor’s production facilities in the U.S., on top of its existing third-party manufacturers located in Taiwan. Last month, Peloton noted that despite a 232% increase in growth, the company would be operating under supply constraints “for the foreseeable future.” This acquisition, however, would mean that Peloton can now make its bikes and treadmills in the U.S., thereby reducing shipping delays from overseas manufacturers.

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The deal also includes Precor’s 100-member research and development team, which signals we might start seeing some new Peloton hardware down the line. Earlier this year, Peloton began offering its new Bike+ and a cheaper version of its treadmill. Precor is known for producing both cardio and strength equipment, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Peloton uses this as a means of competing with other connected fitness gadgets like Tonal and Hydrow.

On another note, the announcement also hints at Peloton’s commercial aspirations—specifically, hotels, apartment complexes with fitness centers, colleges, and corporate campuses. According to the Wall Street Journal, once the deal closes in early 2021, “Peloton’s products will be made available to Precor’s commercial customers in Peloton’s existing markets.” As in, in one fell swoop, Peloton just got access to an extensive network of public fitness spaces. Generally speaking, this is a pretty ingenious way of hooking curious users onto its platform. Even if someone’s not fond of shelling out roughly $2,000 for a bike or treadmill, they can use one in their apartment’s gym and only have to pay the $13/month subscription for the app. Either way, it’s money, money, money for Peloton.

But what about when the pandemic is over and gyms reopen? It’s a fair concern, but it’s one that doesn’t seem to have put a dent in Peloton’s projections for 2021. At this rate, it’d take a holiday ad with unprecedented levels of cringe to knock Peloton off its stride. (And for the love of everything holy, 2020 doesn’t need another Peloton ad.) CNBC reports that the Precor deal could boost Peloton’s sales to $500 million, as Precor itself will still operate under its own brand name in addition to making Peloton products. In any case, the Precor deal very much looks like Peloton setting itself up to continue its momentum into the post-pandemic world.

Peloton Recalls Clip-in Pedals on 27,000 Bikes After Reports of Injury

Illustration for article titled Peloton Recalls Clip-in Pedals on 27,000 Bikes After Reports of Injury

Photo: Ezra Shaw (Getty Images)

If you bought a Peloton Bike between July 2013 and May 2016, you might want to check the clip-in pedals. Peloton is currently recalling the out-of-warranty PR70P pedals as they can unexpectedly break while you’re getting your sweat on—possibly resulting in injuries.

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Peloton announced the recall on its website, though it’s a bit buried in its support section, which was initially spotted by Business Insider. The company notes that if you’ve never replaced the pedals, and bought it during the aforementioned time frame, you might still have the faulty pedals. The PR70P pedals in question can be identified by looking for the Peloton logo and the word “PELOTON” molded into the body, with the orange logo and “PELOTON” in white lettering on the top of the cleat binding, as you can see in this photo. The orange logo is key here, as pedals with the white lettering without the orange logo aren’t being recalled.

The pedals in question are outside of warranty, and the company says it recommends that Peloton users replace their pedals every year.

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According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, roughly 27,000 bikes are impacted by the recall. The agency also said that there had been 120 consumer reports of pedals breaking, as well as 16 reports of injury. Five of the injuries also required medical care, including “stitches to the lower leg.” Yikes.

So what do you do if you have the faulty pedals? Peloton and the CPSC recommend you submit a New Pedal Order Form either via this link. If you’re affected, you may have also already received an email with the link. Needless to say, don’t ride the bike until you get those new pedals. There’s also a video tutorial detailing how consumers can switch out the pedals, though you can also pay an extra $100 to have a Peloton technician come and do it for you. (That said, due to covid-19, appointments may be limited depending on where you live.)

The news comes at an interesting time for the at-home fitness company. The pandemic has been a boom time for Peloton, as many fitness boutiques and gyms remain shuttered. According to CNBC, Peloton’s stock is up 380% in the year-to-date, and the company ended its latest quarter with a 113% increase in subscribers, for a total of about 3.1 million members.

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The company also recently launched two new products: the Bike+ and the Peloton Tread. The Bike+ is an enhanced version of its original bike, which is still available at a discounted price of $1,895. That said, despite its pandemic-induced success, there is some competition on the horizon. Apple will soon be launching its Fitness+ service, which is also an on-demand streaming subscription complete with trainer-led workouts. Apple’s service will be slightly cheaper at $10 a month, compared to Peloton’s $13/month subscription for its app-only membership. (It costs $40 a month if you have Peloton’s hardware.) So far, Peloton CEO John Foley is playing it cool, however. “They’re [Apple] not coming into that [hardware] category. They’re just going to be the content. And we think the special sauce, the magic, is our connected platforms, and in order to work out at home you need a stationary bike if you’re going to be biking,” Foley said, referring to Fitness+.

In any case, time will only tell how Peloton fares in the long run. This pedal recall probably won’t be much of a setback. As ridiculously expensive as Peloton bikes are—and as terrible as their holiday commercials may be—Peloton owners are pretty hardcore devotees of the platform.

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