Forget racing to reserve a seat at SoulCycle; the future of fitness could be streaming.
Former CAA agents Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills have teamed with investors including Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman, star chef Katie Lee and The Chew‘s Daphne Oz to launch obé, a live-streaming platform with exercise classes you can sweat to from anywhere. Sparked by a decade of “workout schmooze” honed when Mullett and Mills worked in adjoining offices selling shows to Food Network and HGTV, obé (pronounced “obey”) is an acronym for “our body electric,” a nod to Walt Whitman.
The online platform, launched March 9 with an app to come soon, features seven hours a day of workouts for $27/month. The 28-minute Sweat (cardio), Define (strength) and Flow (stretch) classes — shot in Brooklyn on a neon-filled lightbox set that takes cues from artists James Turrell and Dan Flavin — were conceived to mimic the high-energy, color-hued vibe of ‘80s Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons videos. Start times are roughly every half-hour between 3 a.m. and 10:15 a.m. PT, or 6 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. ET. Obe’s instructors — typically clad in colorful duds from Outdoor Voices — include a dance team captain and a former math teacher turned fitness instructor.
While the digital fitness market is crowded (see ModelFit’s MFOnline, 108 Yoga and DanceBody@Home), obé workouts are live, not recorded. “You can’t press pause on studio fitness — we want members to feel the burn at the same time, and the instructors give shout-outs to them during workouts,” says Mullett, who plans to add more hours and a second stream. “We can adapt based on what’s hot, whether it’s kickboxing or dancing. If we could be a 24-hour network, that would be pretty darn cool.”
A version of this story first appeared in the April 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.