LG recently announced its intention to break into the home workout space with a new app called Fitness Candy that runs on LG TVs. Backed by K-pop stars and with companion gadgets like an AI camera and exercise bike (just like Peloton with its Peloton Guide camera hardware), the South Korean company plans to disrupt home gyms. Which I think would have been great… two years ago.
Launched earlier this year, the Peloton Guide was an excellent fitness kit. With a Peloton subscription, the AI camera tracked your attempts to copy the moves you saw on screen, and if you did the replays correctly, it would fill up a small progress bar. The workouts challenged you to complete the ad with the trainer on time and gave you a completion score at the end, like a video game.
It’s hideously addictive and I’m pretty sure it would have sold like proverbial hot cakes had it been launched at the height of the pandemic.
Instead, it was launched as the global pandemic declined from being an earth-shattering event to something we now live with on a day-to-day basis. Some people have already invested in home exercise equipment like connected Peloton bikes, rowing machines, or their own weights, and don’t want to spend more than $300 or £280 on a smart camera they can tape to their TV. Others have grown tired of working out in front of a screen and have returned to the gym, where you can access a wide range of equipment, often for less than the price of an expensive Peloton subscription.
It feels like Peloton, and now LG, saw the home fitness boom during the pandemic and reacted rather than strategized, pouring money into developing these products and betting on big home workouts in front of your TV to stay. And I believe connected HIIT will carve out a niche of its own as a fitness product, but YouTube-style workouts will never find the captive audience they once had. The narrow window to make these products a huge success has really been missed.
The exception might be Apple Fitness Plus, which at least has the benefit of a built-in user base. Apple also offers a richer experience with Fitness Plus by centering it around the Apple Watch and not a TV screen: doing HIIT in your living room is a way to work out, and it’s great having your watch’s stats on screen to see, but you can also try guided audio workouts or copy the movements shown on your watch to fill your rings. You can even (gasp!) train outside.
However, when it comes to success, Apple is very reticent about numbers for its paying fitness subscribers. It shared its impressive total of 750 million paid subscribers in January, but that number covers all of its services like Apple TV, Apple Fitness, Wallet, Arcade, and more, and keeps a low profile on how that number is distributed in detail.
Maybe I’m biased, or maybe I’m underestimating the number of LG TV owners who want this new subscription service. But, for me at least, I don’t think connected HIIT training will ever replace a set of the best workout headphones and the lure of the open road.