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Pear Sports Seeks to Democratize Digital Health

The pandemic has accelerated an already growing demand for digital health, according to officials with Pear Sports.

“We fully believe in the power of technology to democratize health and fitness,” Pear Sports’ Vice President and General Manager Brian Pitstick told the Business Journal. “That trend is not going to stop and we’re well positioned to embrace it. The consumer is now at the center and they expect to consume content whenever and wherever they want.”

To stay abreast of the times, the Newport Beach-based health tech provider recently added another workout app to its portfolio, while getting an additional equity investment from a commercial fitness equipment giant with Orange County ties.

On Oct. 13 Pear announced the acquisition of the New York-based workout app, Aaptiv. Terms of the deal were undisclosed.

Aaptiv, which has an estimated 13 million users, offers thousands of audio and video fitness classes. It says its classes have been taken over 36 million times since its launch in 2015.

The deal adds to Pear’s list of acquisitions, with at least four since the start of 2020. They include San Clemente-based Pilates Metrics, AI fitness program designer Performance Lab and exercise video maker Functional Solutions.

Nieto Ties

Pear has a notable backer helping fund its acquisitions.

In June, Pear (short for Performance Enhancing Audio Research) partnered with Franklin Park, Ill.-based Life Fitness, the maker of strength and cardiovascular equipment for gyms, and other products.

The company’s equipment is used in 166 countries.

Life Fitness’ founder is Corona del Mar’s Augie Nieto; the fitness industry icon is a current investor and board member of the company.

This month, Life Fitness announced it was upping its equity investment in Pear; terms of the investment were undisclosed.

As of this May, the Newport Beach company was reported to have raised more than $15 million from investors and federal grant programs since its 2010 inception. Prior investors have included Irvine’s Vizio.

“Today’s exerciser wants fitness opportunities at home, as well as in the club. Life Fitness has recognized the importance of meeting the exerciser wherever they are. That is the value of their new strategic partnership with Pear Sports and Aaptiv,” Nieto told the Business Journal via email last week.

 “Combining world-class equipment Life Fitness, engaging and approachable content from Aaptiv and leading technology from Pear Sports—that is going to create the kind of experience that will draw exercisers in and keep them motivated throughout their fitness journey,” Nieto said.

Pear said it will integrate Aaptiv with its Pear Training Intelligence, its AI technology platform, to create “hyper-personalized” digital fitness plans using an individual’s biometric data, fitness level, and goals.

Wellness Refocus

Pear launched in 2010 as a direct customer brand, offering customizable workouts to over 750,000 users.

Over time, Pear’s IP portfolio grew to include five patents around real-time, adaptive training, and five training performance patents.

In 2019, it pivoted to a B2B SaaS platform, providing partners with “scalable and comprehensive” wellness programming to other fitness companies, gyms and studios.

It is also landing work with large organization and healthcare firms; it counts 20 current enterprise customers include the United States Air Force and UnitedHealthcare Inc.

In recent months, Pear Sports has gone beyond fitness to become a health and wellness platform.

It’s currently building a solution for United Healthcare called Renew Active for its 8.8 million Medicare recipients ages 65 and older, expected to go live in January of 2022.

“Growing obesity rates is a significant problem in this country and across the world,” Pitstick said. “Leveraging digital tools will be key in providing a real solution.”

“We’re working with very important members of the healthcare community,” he added. “Fitness is as good as taking a pill. If we can get this aging community moving more, they will ultimately need less hospitalizations and less healthcare services.”

Next Steps

Expect more deals and partnerships from the Newport Beach company going forward, as it stakes out its place in the fast-growing and increasingly competitive digital health and fitness space.

“We can be a great strategic tool to fitness companies to help them differentiate themselves relative to their competition,” Pitstick said, adding that the digital fitness market is expected to grow nearly 19% in the next six years. 

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