is today announcing its series C financing that it hopes will allow the company to bring its at-home gym to even more homes. The funding round shows investors’ excitement around the new generation of personal exercise equipment that combines on-demand training with smart features. like Peloton, offer features previously unavailable outside of gyms and with this injection of capital, the company expects to build new personal features and invest in marketing and retail experiences. L Catterton’s Growth Fund led the $45 million series C round and included investments from Shasta Ventures, Mayfield, Sapphire Sport, and others also participated. This financing round brings the total amount raised to $90 million. Tonal is based out of San Francisco, CA and was founded by Aly Orady in 2015. The company . The wall-mounted Tonal uses electromagnetism to simulate and control weight, allowing the slender device to replicate (and replace) a lot of weight-lifting machines. The Tonal machine costs $2,995, and for $49 a month, Tonal offers members access to personal training sessions, recommended programs and workouts. Since launching, CEO Orady tells TechCrunch there have been virtually no returns. He says their customer care teams proactively work with members to ensure a good experience. Orady is excited to have L Catterton participating in this financing round, saying their deep network and unparalleled experience building premium fitness brands globally is an incredibly exciting new resource for the company. The Connecticut-based investment firm helped fund in ThirdLove, ClassPass, and The Honest Company. “As the fitness landscape continues to evolve, we have seen a clear shift toward personalized, content-driven, at-home workout experiences,” said Scott Dahnke, Global Co-CEO of L Catterton said in a released statement. “Tonal is the first connected fitness brand focused on strength training and represents an opportunity to invest behind an innovative concept with tremendous growth potential. We look forward to leveraging our deep knowledge of consumer behavior and significant experience in the connected fitness space to bring Tonal’s dynamic technology and content platform to more homes across the country.” Tonal shares a market with Peloton, and Orady says a significant amount of Tonal owners also own Peloton equipment. Yet, feature-by-feature, Peloton, and Tonal are different. While they’re both in-home devices that offer on-demand instructors, Peloton targets cardiovascular exercises while Tonal is a strength-training machine. Orady states his customers find the two companies offer complementary experiences. “The common thread with our members is that they understand the value of investing in their fitness and overall health,” said Aly Orady, “All of our members are looking to take their fitness to the next level with strength training. Tonal offers the ability to strength train at home by providing a comprehensive, challenging full body workout without having to sacrifice quality for convenience.” This is an enormous market he says the company can rely on for years to come. The majority of Tonal’s customers are between 30 and 55 years old and live in, or adjacent to, the top 10 major metro US markets. There’s an even split, he says, between male and female members. Tonal is similar to , another at-home, wall-mounted exercise device that costs $1,495. While Tonal focuses on strength training through resistance, Mirror offers yoga, boxing, Pilates and other exercises and activities with on-demand instruction and real-time stats. Mirror also launched in 2018 and the company has raised $40 million. Going forward Tonal expects to expand its software to provide new personalization features to its members. The hope is to build experiences that motivate users while serving up real-time feedback. This includes building new workout categories and additional fitness experiences even when users traveling and do not have access to their Tonal machine. The company sees it expanding its retail and marketing presence. Right now, just eight months after the product’s debut, customers have very limited access to try the Tonal machine. It’s only on display at Tonal’s flagship San Francisco store and is coming to a pop-up store in Newport Beach, California. Orady tells TechCrunch the company needs new talent to help the company achieve its mission. Tonal is hiring and looking to hire in hardware, software, design, video production, and marketing. At-home exercise equipment is a massive market and Tonal offers a unique set of features and advantages that should allow it to stand apart from competitors. This isn’t just another treadmill. Tonal is a strength-training super machine the size of a thick HDTV. Challenges abound but the company seemingly has a solid plan to utilize its latest round of financing that should allow it to reach more customers and show them why the Tonal machine is worth the cost.
Acting FAA chief Daniel Elwell, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt and Calvin Scovel, the Transportation Department’s inspector general, face a Senate panel during a hearing on airline safety. (C-SPAN Photo) Were airline pilots adequately trained on a catastrophic scenario involving the automatic flight control system for Boeing’s 737 MAX airplanes? And did the Federal Aviation Administration cede too much of its responsibility to Boeing when the system was certified as safe? Those are among the key questions that U.S. senators had for federal officials today during a pair of Capitol Hill hearings today. Meanwhile, Boeing brought about 200 pilots and airline industry officials to Renton, Wash., the base of operations for the company’s 737 program, to learn more about the changes being made in the wake of two fatal MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. October’s killed all 189 people aboard, while this month’s killed 157. In both cases, investigators have focused on an automatic flight control system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. The MCAS software system was added to the 737 MAX, the latest version of the 51-year-old 737 line, to compensate for the aerodynamic effects of a larger engine and guard against stalling. But preliminary findings from the Lion Air investigation suggest that spurious data from a single angle-of-attack sensor forced the MCAS to push the plane repeatedly into a nose dive. Investigators suspect the same scenario in the Ethiopia crash. Even before that crash, Boeing was working on a software update to address the bad-data scenario. At a Renton news conference, Mike Sinnett, Boeing’s vice president of product strategy and development, confirmed that the update would have the MCAS come into play only if both angle-of-attack sensors detected indications of a stall. The system would be activated only once, rather than repeatedly, and could more easily be counteracted manually by the pilot, . Tests of the software changes were on the agenda for this week’s Renton gathering. All 737 MAX planes are grounded worldwide due to concerns about the crash, resulting in continuing disruption and costs for airlines. But once the FAA and its counterparts in other countries give the go-ahead, the software update could theoretically be distributed in a matter of days. Sinnett also said pilots would receive half an hour of computer-based training on the MCAS software changes, but that no additional training in a flight simulator would be required. He said the training plan has been “provisionally approved” by the FAA. The training issue came up repeatedly today at a congressional hearing organized by the Senate Commerce Committee’s panel on aviation and space. Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell told senators that he didn’t believe the MCAS system was specifically addressed in flight simulation training. He said regulators initially agreed with Boeing’s analysis that the system made “no marked difference in the handling characteristics” of the 737. But in light of the fatal crashes, Elwell said training procedures are “an area that we will look into very, very carefully.” At an earlier hearing, organized by the Senate appropriations subcommittee focusing on the Transportation Department and other agencies, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao faced tough questions about regulatory oversight, or the potential lack thereof. During the certification process for the 737 MAX, Boeing drew up its own safety analysis of the changes made from the design for the previous 737 model. In an , The Seattle Times quoted unnamed sources as saying that the analysis downplayed risks associated with the MCAS system. One former FAA engineer said the agency’s review of Boeing’s analysis was “rushed to reach [a] certain certification date.” When Chao was asked about the relationship between Boeing and the FAA during certification, she insisted that the FAA was in charge of the process. “The FAA does not build planes. They certify. But this method of having the manufacturer also be involved in looking at these standards is really necessary, because … the FAA cannot do it on their own,” she said. “Having said that, I am of course concerned about any allegations of coziness.” Chao emphasized that safety is her department’s top concern, and noted that additional steps were being taken to respond to issues raised in the aftermath of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. Last week, Chao asked the of the certification process for the 737 MAX, and that investigation is getting under way. This week, to suggest improvements in the FAA’s oversight and certification process. During this afternoon’s hearing, Elwell said the cooperative approach to aircraft certification was deeply ingrained in FAA procedures. If the agency were to do the job without delegating duties to manufacturers,, he said.