Virtual fitness brand Obé is taking to the sky in a new partnership with American Airlines.
Launched on June 6, the two companies created a content library of 10 free travel workout videos that are included in the airline’s inflight entertainment program. Obé is the only fitness brand on American Airlines and will be available on all screens and devices worldwide. The exercises are designed to be done in-flight and include a variety of stretches and short routines based on certain travel archetypes like the sunrise traveler, the redeye traveler and the jet setter. Obé offers a subscription of digital content for $27 a month and equipment for $15-$25. Airline partnerships and travel retail have been mainstays for decades, but it had not been regarded an accessible opportunity for fitness brands — except, perhaps, during the Skymall era.
“A lot of our members are using our content on the go. The ability to access our content on flights further demonstrates our commitment to bringing the Obé experience to more people across more screens,” said Melanie Parke, senior director of partnerships at Obé. “We [also] have a captive audience in a flight [to] introduce them to Obé. It’s intriguing to us as a brand awareness [tactic] and [a strategy to] get in front of new customers.”
Like many other fitness brands before it, including Outdoor Voices and Peleton, 3-year-old Obé is trying to frame itself as a lifestyle brand to encourage ongoing growth and retention. It has sought to invigorate its workout offerings and previously partnered with Gap-owned Athleta for an in-person retreat before expanding the partnership to include apparel in Dec. 2021. By tapping into travelers, Obé makes the continuation of the current subscriber’s fitness routine easier and opens up the brand to customers looking for accessible options. According to a 2017 survey from Expedia on exercising while traveling, Australians were the most active travelers, with 55% believing it is “very or somewhat important” to exercise while traveling. Americans came in a close second at 53%. Another 10% of Americans said they don’t plan to work out while traveling.
Obé’s partnership comes as air travel rebounds, even though it is not back to pre-pandemic levels. The U.S. Department of Transportation published its annual report in February finding that the number of passengers traveling on U.S. airlines increased 83% in 2021, compared to 2020.
“Digital fitness is here to stay,” said Mark Mullett, co-founder and co-CEO of Obé. “For many people, that might mean at-home fitness, but we predict that as the world continues to open up, it’s companies like ours that can play an integral role in our members’ [fitness routines], whether they are at home or at work or on the go and on vacation.”
Mullett declined to comment on Obé’s current membership size or revenue growth. According to Glossy’s previous reporting, Obé saw member increases of 80% month-over-month between March 2020 and May 2020, owing that to the coronavirus keeping people at home. That leveled to 30% month-over-month growth from May 2020 to Oct. 2020. According to Bloomberg, Obé’s latest funding round valued the company at $190 million.
Parke said that there were no costs associated with working with American Airlines and that it operates as a co-marketing opportunity. Starting June 6, Obé will promote the partnership through its social media channels and email marketing, and the videos will be available online.
“This is one of our first forays into a large-scale global travel partnership, and it’s certainly an area that we’re looking to go [further] into in a more meaningful way,” said Parke.