Peloton may be going public but Equinox is about to flex in the same space

1 week ago by Jon Marino in Facts, News

Whether you're on a bike or in front of a mirror, working out at home is the new big thing. 

Backed by investors like GGV Capital, True Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, home fitness startup Peloton ($PELOTON) is going public - but it is about to clash with Equinox ($EQUINOX), which has grown from a regional luxury gym to a five-headed fitness hydra that is launching or buying new verticals to transform the brand from a chain of high-end gyms into a full-blown lifestyle platform. 

For years Equinox has cut deals to tuck ancillary offerings into its growing platform - SoulCycle, in 2011, and more recently, a stake in Rumble Boxing, another up-and-coming player in the high-end fitness space. It's not just a gym, or a fitness platform that owns biking and boxing classes - Equinox even has developed a media brand called Furthermore, futhermore. And then there are the hotels. 

They've Got Soul(Cycle)

Equinox struck a deal in 2011 to buy SoulCycle, bringing the popular fitness brand into the growing fitness platform. Aligning with Equinox has helped the spinning class, judging by the data we track. SoulCycle's Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) App Monthly Active Users Rank rose from 2018, through the end of March 2019, according to our data. 

Let's Get Ready for Rumble

A 15% jump in foot traffic is nothing to sniff at; doing 15% in just a few months is positively stunning. That's what Rumble Boxing has posted from the end of February to the beginning of June, according to our tracking of the Facebook Were Here Count. This metric tracks check-ins, mobile device shares, and photo-location tags made at a physical location. Thanks to a 2017 investment from private equity firm L Catterton, which was previously known as Catterton Partners, Equinox has evolved through multiple deals for big bucks to take out disruptive challengers - like Rumble Boxing. Equinox also counts real estate investor Related Companies among shareholders, although little else is known about its investors. 

In 2018, Equinox made an investment in Rumble, according to the New York Post, for a 'significant' minority stake - and the paper reported the boxing chain has grown its valuation recently to around $80 million. Think this is just a bunch of mid-life crisis wannabe Conor McGregors? Think again: most or Rumble's members are women, according to the report. 

Coast-to-Coast Growth

Equinox began as a small operator of gyms, spread up and down the East Coast into the UK and Canada and out to California. Equinox appears to have done little to nothing to cut jobs - the company's LinkedIn ($NASDAQ:MSFT) Employee Count, our next chart, highlights a steady trajectory to around 8,500 total staff (and SoulCycle has enjoyed similar growth trajectory, totaling around 1,400 workers, our data shows). 

Equinox also owns Pure Yoga, which it launched in 2008, and Blink Fitness, a less-expensive fitness alternative to the flagship gym, launched in 2011. 

Still Building

Currently Equinox has posted about 700 openings for jobs online, an increase of more than 15% year-over-year (and about double that of Peloton). However, job postings are flat for 2019. We monitor companies' data including job postings, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings to create data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data may not be fully comprehensive (our data gathering for SoulCycle app monthly active users was interrupted in March, for example), but it can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

And Furthermore... Hotels?

Equinox even went as far as to develop its own media brand, launching Furthermore in 2016. Furthermore, the site is gaining some serious clout on social media

Equinox will take one great leap to transform the brand as a true lifestyle platform: it is building hotels. The first will be in New York, with plans to develop a 60,000 square foot gym, soundproof sleeping quarters, an indoor salt water pool and "Scandanavian duvets that regulate body temperatures," which, apparently, is a thing. 

The company has lifestyle brand manifest destiny - Equinox will also build out locations in Seattle (2019), Houston and Los Angeles (2021) and Chicago (2022), and may develop more hotels in London. However, Equinox's hiring data doesn't reflect it is adding staff for these roles. If - or when - it does, Equinox will reportedly have "billions" of dollars more at its disposal for the next level of scale, according to prior reports.

The company has revenue of $1.1 billion for the year ending September 30, 2018, according to a Moodys Investors Service report earlier this year, and Ebitda of $184 million over the same timeframe. 

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Jon Marino

Jon Marino is Thinknum's finance editor, covering the impacts of alternative data on public companies and investors. Prior to joining Thinknum, Jon worked in the ...

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