today is Jun 27, 2022

What do Lizzo, Justin Timberlake, and Aaron Rodgers all have in common? They’ve all jumped into business with a Cambridge startup that’s making a splash with at-home rowing workouts.

The A-listers are the latest investors in Hydrow, a Cambridge-based company that livestreams workouts directly to its high-tech rowing machines. Other celebrity backers include comedians Whitney Cummings and Kevin Hart — who was named creative director of the fitness company last year.

The wave of investments brings Hydrow’s funding to $200 million, the company announced Tuesday, after sales of its $2,145 rowing machines ballooned more than 500 percent last year.

The pandemic has created a huge demand for at-home fitness tech and equipment as many people continue to steer clear of gyms and other crowded indoor workout spaces. In the early months of the shutdown, fitness buffs snapped up stationary bikes, treadmills, and weights as Americans hunkered down at home. Companies like Peloton, which not only sells high-end equipment but also streams classes to users, soared in value.

The Hydrow rowing machine first went on sale in 2019. At that point, the company said it had raised $27 million in venture capital funding. By the time Hart was brought on last October, that number had grown to $52 million.

“It is an honor to have some of the most well-regarded names in music, sports, and entertainment support our crew as we strive to enhance our members’ lives through the shared experience of rowing,” said Bruce Smith, founder and CEO of Hydrow, in Tuesday’s press release. “As we continue to focus on positioning rowing as an accessible and mainstream lifestyle choice, we are excited to join forces with these exceptional people who each offer unique experiences and insights to help us in achieving this goal.”

In an interview with CNBC published Tuesday, Smith added that the funding would help ensure the company could keep up with demand during the upcoming holiday season.

Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 Olympian, rows along the Charles River as he is being broadcast live to Hydrow rowers around the world for their workouts. Aquil Abdullah, a 2004 Olympian, rows along the Charles River as he is being broadcast live to Hydrow rowers around the world for their workouts. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

In August, Bloomberg reported that Hydrow was in talks to go public through a merger with Sandbridge X2 Corp. that could result in a joint valuation of over $1 billion. Neither company has commented on the report.

In addition to the sleek rowing machines, Hydrow sells mats, resistance band kits, and foam rollers, among other products. For an additional monthly fee, users can gain access to Hydrow’s on-demand workout videos and livestreams.

Anissa Gardizy contributed reporting to this story.

Dana Gerber can be reached at

The Mill No. 5 building on Jackson Street in Lowell, Mass. is a Diagon Alley-style wonderland of salvaged storefronts that host quirky independent businesses. (Video produced edited by Caitlin Healy/Globe Staff, Cinematography by J R Alexander/Special to the Globe, OJ Slaughter/Special to the Globe, Photo by David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)

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