WaterRower Acquires CityRow in Connected Fitness Consolidation

A manufacturer of rowers for brands like Ergatta and CityRow, WaterRower has just made a splash in the connected fitness space

CityRow has been acquired by rower maker WaterRower, representing another step in what may be a gradual consolidation of the connected fitness market.

The two companies are familiar with one another, with the Rhode Island-based WaterRower serving as a manufacturing partner for CityRow, which boasts an omnichannel model with at-home rowers, digital content and in-person studios. 

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

CityRow founder and CEO Helaine Knapp confirmed the news on LinkedIn, writing: 

“As of this morning, CityRow has been acquired by our longstanding strategic partner WaterRower! This milestone comes almost 10 (!) years to the day since we opened our first studio in NYC. WaterRower has been our backer, partner, and steady manufacturer since our inception. I could not be happier with this new phase for CityRow – there is no better place for this brand, our clients, and our team than under their stewardship.”

In a call to Bloomberg, Knapp noted that the pandemic had a “crazy impact on connected fitness” and described this stage as a “phrase of recalibration,” underscoring that this is the ideal time for such a deal. 

Boston-based connected fitness rowing brand Hydrow was rumored to be mulling acquiring CityRow last fall.

In a letter to CityRow members that has circulated online, Knapp acknowledged the deal, writing that WaterRower will have a “direct role” in CityRow’s operations. She assured that new classes and content are coming next month and that members will still have access to the CityRow app and features, with WaterRower continuing to support and service CityRow equipment.

A New World for Connected Fitness

CityRow secured a $12 million funding round in 2021 to bolster its company-owned and franchise studio model. It was smooth sailing at the time, with the connected rowing company reporting a 375% revenue growth due to the sales of its rowing machines, monthly subscriptions and franchise sales amid the pandemic.

Amid post-pandemic challenges driven by the return of in-person fitness, two other notable acquisitions and power collaborations have occurred in the connected fitness realm in recent months — Lululemon threw in the towel on its connected fitness Mirror ambitions, instead teaming up with Peloton for a five-year content deal, while Clmbr was acquired by smart home gym maker Forme last October following the closure of Clmbr’s Los Angeles fitness studio and layoffs.

The State of Rowing

While connected rowing hasn’t yet soared into the mainstream quite like stationary bikes and treadmills have, the modality has developed its own subset of dedicated enthusiasts. 

Celeb-backed Hydrow beefed up its C-suite late last year to accelerate its growth. The connected at-home rowing company closed out 2023 on the red carpet, teaming up with the George Clooney-directed film, “The Boys in the Boat,” to deliver themed rowing workouts for its members.

Game-based in-home rowing brand Ergatta (made in partnership with WaterRower) continues to churn out advancements to the rowing experience, recently launching “Coach AI” software to give rowers personalized assessments and recommendations. The rowing brand also announced an integration with Apple Watch last year

However, Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy indicated to investors last year that consumer awareness for the connected fitness brand’s rower had been low, despite favorable reviews. 

The post WaterRower Acquires CityRow in Connected Fitness Consolidation appeared first on Athletech News.


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