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Spartan Race founder: Peloton is cool but 'you've got to get outside'

Sarah A. Smith
Segment Producer/Booker

Peloton (PTON) is one of the biggest breakout names in fitness this year – but it hasn’t exactly been a smooth ride.

The boutique workout company’s shares have skidded since going public in September, marked as one of the worst mega initial public offering (IPOs) debut in a decade.

Yet even with the fitness industry shifting more toward tech focused products, a popular racing workout called The Spartan Race has endurance junkies jumping through hoops — and even fire — without using high-tech gadgets.

“I think it's good if we get people off the couch,” Joe De Sena, Spartan Founder & CEO told Yahoo Finance last week.

Launched by De Sena in 2010, The Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle-course race (OCR) series. Varying in distance and difficulty, the races have attracted over one million annual participants.

SHENZHEN, CHINA - MARCH 24: Participants compete in the Spartan Race Shenzhen Sprint 2018 at Mission Hills Sports & Eco Park on March 24, 2018 in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province of China. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)

With 250 events across more than 40 countries on six continents, the brand has developed a cult-like following within the endurance community. 

De Sena thinks working toward a goal and “putting a date on the calendar” is the most motivating way to reach your fitness goals.

“You're never going to push [yourself] as hard if you're not around a bunch of people in a competition,” he said.

Amidst a shift toward people using more boutique gyms, which De Sena said they are utilizing to “get ready for events” like marathons, 5Ks or 10Ks, the Spartan brand is still growing. It has expanded beyond OCRs and extended into health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs and popular media content.

‘Get outside’

This summer, Kashi Go became the official protein bar sponsor of the U.S. Spartan events. Kellogg (K), Kashi’s parent company, is one of the many brands getting behind the rugged racing brand. Reebok sponsors the culminating Spartan Race World Championship each year, which has previously aired on NBC Sports Network, owned by NBCUnviersal’s parent company Comcast (CMCSA).

And Spartan has no plans to slow down, De Sena told Yahoo. “Obstacle course racing came out of nowhere. It became this giant thing and we haven't stopped growing.”

Meanwhile Peloton is ramping up the competitive pressure. The company is embracing cheaper equipment grow its users and cushion the company’s bottom line — reportedly working on a new treadmill that will cost less than the current $4,000 model, in addition to a rowing machine and new app extensions for Amazon Fire TV and Apple Watch, according to Bloomberg.

“It’s good no matter what device is out there,” De Sena said, speaking of Peloton’s tech push. “But at the end of the day, for somebody to really thrive and be their best self, they’ve got to get outside.” 

 Sarah Smith is a Segment Producer/Booker at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahasmith

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