Peloton is building its own rowing machine according to snippets of info spotted in its Android app. It’s no surprise, and would be a natural next step for Peloton, sitting alongside the company’s existing spin bikes and treadmills – but it may be too late.
Back in April, we reviewed a smart rower called the Hydrow, which has already been dubbed ‘the Peloton of rowing machines’ by T3, Wired, Stuff, and many more. It’s an impressive machine that gives you a full-body workout, and simulates the feeling of actually moving through water rather than simply pulling against resistance.
Like Peloton, Hydrow has a monthly subscription plan that gives you access to on-demand workouts – both classes led by instructors and more leisurely cruises along virtual rivers. Peloton seems to be planning a similar offering, with scenic backdrops to accompany your workouts, but as far as hardware goes, the bar has been set very high.
Who needs a smart rower?
There’s also the matter of demand. How many people actually want to invest in a rower right now?
When gyms closed their doors at the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, treadmills, exercise bikes, cross trainers, and rowing machines flew off the shelves, and companies like Peloton received more orders than their suppliers could build.
Apple was quick to capitalize on the opportunity with the launch of Apple Fitness Plus – an on-demand workout service that challenged Peloton’s digital-only subscription, but Peloton kept an edge thanks to its premium exercise machines.
That was until May 2021, when the company voluntarily recalled all its treadmills after reports of serious accidents. It was a real blow to Peloton’s reputation (and put a serious dent in its share price) and although the company offered full refunds and is now sending out engineers to fix customers’ machines, it may well undermine confidence in the new rower.
Now, Peloton may have missed the gun. Gyms are beginning to reopen in most countries, which is likely to see a drop in demand for expensive, heaving home gym equipment. Unless you’re seriously into rowing as a sport, it may be an investment that’s tough to justify.
How Peloton could take the lead
That said, there’s a chance that Peloton could still pull it off. A large part of its appeal comes not from its hardware itself, but from the personalities of its trainers. If classes for the new rower are led with the same gusto, it might be able to develop a similarly dedicated following.
The company could also undercut Hydrow’s prices thanks to its established deals with suppliers, which could make its new rower cheaper to produce. Peloton appears to be working on two machines (codenamed Mazu and Caesar), one of which is likely to be a more budget-friendly machine.
We’ll keep you updated as soon as we know more about both rowers, and will aim to bring you full reviews as soon as possible.