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17 Nov 2022
Ergatta’s members can now race based on effort in new gamified rowing experience
By Frances Marcellin
Ergatta’s members can now race based on effort in new gamified rowing experience
Ergatta's new gaming experience, Vortex, enables users to race based on effort not fitness level
Photo: Ergatta
Connected rowing company Ergatta has released a new gaming experience called Vortex which has been designed to 'level the virtual playing field' across its community of 75,000 users.

Rather than competing by fitness level, Vortex enables players of any ability – from professional athlete to beginner – to race against each other. Participants are scored on effort and fitness level.

The equalised gameplay is made possible through Ergatta’s patent-pending Calibrated Competition scoring system which enables users’ split times to be relative to their fitness level and past performances. This then determines how many tokens players collect in a given stroke. The token-based reward feature motivates users to perform optimally. Bonus rounds, where tokens double in value, drive competitors to push even harder.

“The launch of Vortex is a monumental moment for Ergatta as we continue to take steps toward our vision of offering a varied, ever-expanding suite of personalised workout games,” said Tom Aulet, co-founder and CEO.

“I'm particularly excited about Vortex, not only because it levels the playing field with the competition, but also because it introduces some real strategy: there really are different ways to win. Vortex is so much more than just another game; it's an innovative experience at the intersection of fitness and gaming.”

The Ergatta rower offers live and on-demand workouts which have an ever-increasing focus on individual user data and their fitness objectives. The system matches users with potential opponents for races, then recalibrates as fitness levels improve.

These smart systems are intended to grow Ergatta’s customer base and improve a user’s rowing experience by offering more personalised, connected and gamified sessions.

“Based on data from prior game releases and live race events, we anticipate Vortex will be a significant driver of engagement in the coming months,” said Randi Charles, VP of marketing. “The growing library of competitive experiences and workout variety will drive net member growth.”

Competition based on effort not fitness level is a growing category within the sector as gamification accelerates. Fitness platform Myzone enables users to engage in friendly competition based on effort through Myzone Effort Points (MEPs), which they receive for every minute spent in personal intensity zones. The company’s MZ-Switch heart rate monitor, which launched last year, converts a user’s effort into MEPs across any kind of physical activity.

Many studies prove the link between physical effort and competitiveness. For example, Effectiveness of behaviorally designed gamification interventions from the American Medical Association proved that while gamification significantly improved effort, competition was the biggest motivator. A study from the University of Pennsylvania, How online social networks increase physical activity, showed that competitive social networks drive effort and improve overall levels of physical activity.

At-home rowing is growing in popularity, with Fitt recently launching interactive workouts with Concept2, Peloton introducing a connected rower for the first time and Hydrow releasing the Hyrdow Wave, a lighter version of the original rower, both in weight and cost. New studio solution Rowcave also launched, bringing an immersive outdoor rowing experience indoors.

The Ergatta Rower is priced at US$2,499.00 (£2,100) and is available throughout the US, UK and Ireland – additional territories are due to open up over the next 12 months.

Launched in 2019 as part of the Techstars Sports Accelerator, Ergatta went mainstream in the US in 2021 with a national TV advertising campaign backed by activist and former NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick was the first black athlete to 'take the knee' when he knelt during the national anthem at the start of NFL games in 2016 in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.

Ergatta also partnered with Kaepernick’s foundation, the Know Your Rights Camp, which promotes its 'right to be healthy' mission to encourage daily fitness within Black and Brown communities. The company donated 100 rowers to community centres as part of this initiative.

Ergatta was a graduate of the 2019 Techstars Sports Accelerator class and raised US$35 million in investment, including a US$30 million Series A round in April 2021. It announced it was launching its rower into the UK market in September 2022.

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