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Six Fitness Brands Using Music to Build Their Followings

Most people work out to music. But these days, fitness junkies with music obsessions can do far more: From boxing directly on the beat of a Drake hit to taking a cycling class with Christina Aguilera and slashing obstacles in virtual reality to the tune of classical symphony.

Since Peloton settled its $370 million copyright infringement lawsuit with music publishers, it’s become one of music’s new best friends, proving there’s a big market for high-tech home-fitness and that music could play a major role in it. Now other companies are jumping, running, lunging and even dancing in to compete with their own soundtrack strategies.

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Below, explore the six key fitness brands turning up the volume on music, what they offer music fans and what’s coming next.

PELOTON

The workout: An at-home stationary bike displays virtual workouts on the Peloton app.

Big music moment: During the past year, Peloton has racked up themed class partnerships with Beyoncé and Verzuz, and teamed with the Elvis Presley Estate and Sony Music to release three Elvis remixes by Dillon Francis, Big Boi and Chromeo exclusively for its classes.

Up next: Judging by Peloton’s partnership with Usher earlier this month for an off-bike dance cardio class, the company is expanding both its artist roster and workout repertoire.

APPLE FITNESS+

The workout: The computer company’s new exercise app that launched in December 2020 and connects to the Apple Watch offers 10 categories of virtual workouts, from rowing to dance.

Big music moment: In the “Artist Spotlight”-themed workouts, users can cycle to Billie Eilish or dance to Nicki Minaj; performers like Camila Cabello and Reba McEntire tell motivational stories about their lives in the Time To Walk series.

Up next: It’s Apple. The company won’t say, as usual, but expect more artists to get involved.

EQUINOX

The workout: The gym giant, which owns cycling class SoulCycle, launched an at-home connected bike last year and a virtual workout app, Equinox+, in February.

Big music moment: In May, Equinox celebrated the 10th anniversary of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album with a sold-out, in-person SoulCycle class — livestreamed and available on-demand through Equinox+, which also offers themed classes for The Temptations, Jonas Brothers and more.

Up next: Christina Aguilera surprised riders at her themed SoulCycle class in Los Angeles in July, and vp marketing Roisin Branch says that “You never know who will walk through the studio doors next.”

ECHELON

The workout: The workout Echelon sells bikes, treadmills and rowing machines that connect to an app and has studios in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Miami.

Big music moment: The company’s partnership with Pitbull is the first of its kind, but its music team curates playlists for over 2,000 classes each month. Many have Pitbull’s attitude. “He’s high energy, he’s fun, he’s a party,” says CEO Lou Lentine. “We don’t want to be a boring fitness brand.”

Up next: A possible Pitbull concert on the roof of Echelon’s Miami studio, a combination artist-interview-and-workout series called Walk and Talk and a broad partnership with another major artist that will be announced soon.

LITEBOXER

The workout: The boxing platform, which has investment from Timbaland, allows at-home Alis to time their punches to song beats.

Big music moment: Liteboxer works with labels to rotate songs in and out of its library (which can hold 100 tracks at a time) so it can offer songs by The Weeknd the day of his Super Bowl LV halftime show performance, for example. “We’ll drop [new releases] on the same day,” says co-founder/CEO Jeffrey Morin, “so there’s this cultural relevance happening.”

Up next: Community features that will let users challenge one another — plus additional promotion for emerging acts.

SUPERNATURAL

The workout: Users wearing virtual reality headsets duck obstacles and pop bubbles with virtual lightsabers in settings like an active volcano or the moon. And on Tuesday (Oct. 25), the company launched a new boxing feature.

Big music moment: Moves can be synchronized to song beats and lyrics, like those of Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.,” where users squat to the words “sit down.” Supernatural showcases a wide range of genres, from reggaetón to Bollywood soundtracks and even classical music (in the series Sweat Symphony).

Up next: Co-founder/CEO Chris Milk — a former music video director for Kanye West — says he’s “totally open to” inviting artists to guest-coach classes.

This story originally appeared in the Oct. 23, 2021, issue of Billboard.