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A woman watching a workout video while riding a Peloton bike. Peloton

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Peloton now has more U.S. customers than SoulCycle, new data suggests

Tech-based home fitness companies are having a heyday.

Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Peloton appears to have finally pulled ahead in the race to be the most popular exercise-bike company.

Peloton had 4 percent more U.S. customers than SoulCycle last quarter, more than doubling its subscriber base over the last year, according to new data from Second Measure, a company that analyzes billions of anonymized debit and credit card purchases from all major cards. The number of people who made a SoulCycle purchase via debit and credit card in the third quarter declined nearly 10 percent year over year, according to Second Measure.

People on stationary bikes exercising as a class
Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for American Express

That’s a marked change from the beginning of 2017, when SoulCycle — which earlier this year withdrew its 2015 application to become a public company — had approximately three times as many customers as Peloton, according to Second Measure. Peloton, which plans to go public in 2019, was most recently valued at $4 billion.

Data from a second company, M Science — which is owned by Leucadia Investments, a division of Jefferies Financial Group — largely confirmed Second Measure’s findings. Its analysis of anonymized credit and debit card purchases from millions of Americans showed Peloton more than doubling its consumer count while SoulCycle’s declined 8 percent (versus Second Measure’s recorded dip of 9.8 percent) from Q3 2017 to Q3 2018.

A SoulCycle spokesperson provided Recode with the following statement contesting the data:

“The data is not only incomplete, it’s wrong. SoulCycle is highly profitable. Studio revenue has increased year over year, paid rides are up, total rides are up and our active ridership has not decreased. We’re also seeing an increase in the number of classes our active riders take each month. We’ve recently opened two new studios in Las Vegas and Denver, bringing our total to 90 studios in North America. Our growth in consumers and in revenue shows nothing can replicate our immersive and category-defining experience.”

SoulCycle considers “active riders” to be people who’ve attended a class anytime in the previous 12 months.

Peloton confirmed that its user base has doubled since last year. The company has also been running an aggressive TV advertising campaign this holiday season in an attempt to build on that growth.

Both research companies counted individuals who made at least one credit or debit card purchase at SoulCycle or Peloton within each quarter. These numbers were indexed to the number of Peloton customers observed in Q1 2017.

Both fitness companies revolve around stationary bikes, but Peloton’s are purchased for in-home use — a notable $2,000 barrier to entry — and its customers pay a monthly fee to access live and prerecorded classes on the bike’s built-in monitor. SoulCycle’s own growth barrier is that classes only occur at its 90 gyms, which are located predominantly in affluent communities along the coasts.

Last fall, Peloton introduced a 39-month financing option at $97 per month for both the bike and monthly subscription. That meant people could own and use a Peloton for a monthly fee equivalent to the cost of three SoulCycle classes ($30-$40 apiece, depending on the location). Some financing options don’t show up in this data because the financing company’s name would appear in billing statements instead of Peloton’s.

Consumers who don’t have a Peloton device can pay about $20 a month to use the app to stream a variety of workout classes that don’t require Peloton hardware. These people would be included as Peloton customers in the data as well, unless they pay through iTunes since the merchant would be Apple.

A woman working out in front of a mirror holds her leg behind her in a yoga pose Mirror

Second Measure’s and M Science’s data counts SoulCyclers who made a purchase in a given quarter. So for those members who purchase a large package of classes in one quarter but are still using it in a subsequent quarter, they are only counted for the quarter in which they make a purchase. However, the most common SoulCycle class purchases are single-class passes that expire in 30 days, SoulCycle said.

The data includes purchases made in-store, online or through the apps — basically anything that would include “Peloton” or “SoulCycle” on a billing statement.

Peloton and SoulCycle are part of growing health club and fitness equipment markets that are increasingly getting attention from entrepreneurs and tech investors. Peloton has raised a total of nearly $1 billion from venture capital investors. It brought in nearly $400 million in revenue in 2017 and is on track to bring in $700 million this year.

Other startups are betting that they too can use technology to pull people out of gyms and reimagine home workouts. Just this fall, Mirror — a $1,500 smart TV screen that connects to live and prerecorded classes — announced a new $25 million in funding. Tonal, a similar product that includes resistance bands, also recently raised venture funding.

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