By Christian Smith
Peloton and Equinox may be racing each other for fitness domination, but the new studio and streaming service NEO U is taking a more collaborative approach, said one of its co-founders; he's inviting major brands to join his effort.
"If I was to meet with any of those companies that I just said, I would say, 'Hey, we're not competing against each other. I'm just another revenue stream for you,'" Nate Forster, a co-founder, told Cheddar. "Equinox can be on the platform. Peloton can be on the platform. I'm not trying to take the users from them."
NEO U just closed a $4 million round of funding, said Forster, bringing the New York fitness studio's total capital raised to $20 million. The company plans to use that cash to finish and launch its global streaming platform by September. The new service will store content from dozens of trainers and fitness studios; and all of it can be filmed at NEO U's Fifth-Avenue headquarters, Forster said. It's home to three studios ー weight and HIIT training, boxing, and yoga ー with industry-standard camera and lighting equipment, and a live control room.
Trainers and studios that partner with NEO U can make money by charging clients for classes in NEO U's physical space and through a revenue share on streamed content.
NEO U already has over a dozen trainers shooting content in preparation for the launch of its streaming service, including fitness influencer Nicole Mejia. Though she already has more than 1.3 million Instagram followers, Mejia, the founder of the popular workout program Fit and Thick, sees NEO U's streaming platform as a way to grow her audience.
"I'll be able to kind of access all of my following all over the world really in a way that I'm not currently able to with my physical classes," Mejia told Cheddar.
In its first iteration, NEO U's streaming platform will focus primarily on classes, but Forster has bigger ambitions. He said he wants NEO U to become the "Amazon" of health and wellness.
"When our platform is done, we're going to have talk shows and nutrition shows and e-commerce," he said. "And it's going to be a place where all these different things can live."
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