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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Depending on which survey you read, the future of fitness may be sweating at home forever, an eventual return to gyms, or, most likely, a hybrid of in- and out-of-home exercise. 

Why it matters: The fortunes of companies like Peloton and Planet Fitness hang in the balance of which way habits will go as more people prepare for a return to the new normal.

  • Peloton sales saw triple-digit percentage growth in 2020 and a swing of $140 in its stock price in the past year.
  • Planet Fitness held on through a rocky year and plans to open 100 gyms this year as competitors like 24 Hour Fitness and Gold’s Gym filed for bankruptcy.

Driving the news: Connected home gym startup Tempo raised $220 million in new venture capital this week – a sign that investors don’t buy into the “at-home fitness has peaked” theory, Axios’ Dan Primack reported.

  • Nearly a year ago, Tempo competitor Mirror was sold for $500 million to athleisure brand Lululemon.
  • In October, fitness coaching app Future raised a $24 million Series B.

To cover all their bases: Fitness companies and gyms are bundling their products and services to draw customers into newly created ecosystems (think of it like Apple iOS) and to keep them there.

  • At the onset of the pandemic as gyms were forced to close, Equinox introduced a virtual fitness app for its popular classes called Equinox+.  
  • Streaming workouts has also been a way for consumer and gym equipment makers to bridge in-person and at-home experiences, which is why NordicTrack's parent company launched a platform like Peloton’s to make the same videos available for its machines, phone app and TVs.
  • Keeping customers loyal and inside an ecosystem is what Peloton and fitness tech startup Tonal does well through social media community building outside of its own products.
  • Apparel companies realize the benefit of an ecosystem as well, which is why brands like Alo Yoga and Fabletics have launched fitness apps and skincare products

The bottom line: Fitness businesses have to be ready regardless of which way the kettlebell swings.

Go deeper

Marketing to Generation Alpha

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Marketers are pouring money into figuring out the tastes and habits of Generation Alpha — kids born from 2010 through 2024— who are unprecedented in the extent they're growing up online.

Why it matters: They're weaned on TikTok, Amazon and in-app purchases. They're learning from their millennial parents to hold brands accountable for causes like social justice and sustainability. And no prior age cohort will be as large in size or marketing power.

"Printing Hate" details U.S. newspapers' roles in lynchings

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

American newspapers played a prominent role, from Reconstruction through the 1960s, in promoting lynchings, massacres and other forms of racist hate and violence. That legacy is documented in an ambitious new project, launching today, from 58 student journalists.

Why it matters: Understanding the witting and unwitting roles played by U.S. media is an essential part of the national examination of systemic racism. It also offers lessons for today's news reporters today covering everything from American political movements and the Jan. 6 attacks to human rights abuses in China.

51 mins ago - Technology

The living room is now a virtual hub

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Internet companies are leaning into new services that add a social component to the otherwise isolated experience of staying home in front of a screen.

Why it matters: These options for virtual watch parties, virtual concerts and communal gaming often rely on smart TVs — turning the living room back into a place to socialize with friends, even if they're not actually there.