fb-pixelMore rough waters for rowing startup Hydrow - The Boston Globe Skip to main content

More rough waters for rowing startup Hydrow

The Boston-based fitness startup has laid off around 30 people, marking its second round of layoffs in less than a year.

Boston-based rowing tech company Hydrow had its second layoff in six months.Ally Rzesa

Hydrow, the Boston startup that sells a $2,495 rowing machine that streams live workouts, has laid off around 30 people, the company confirmed Thursday.

The layoffs come six months after Hydrow’s last layoff and fitness giant Peloton announced plans to release a rowing machine of its own. A spokesperson for Hydrow would not confirm the company’s headcount, but based on the most recent figure Hyrdow provided the Globe, the latest cuts could represent nearly a quarter of the company’s workforce.

“Despite these changes, we remain incredibly bullish about the future of the company,” said Hydrow chief executive Bruce Smith in a statement to the Globe. “We’re leaning into this moment to achieve profitability while continuing to deliver even more exciting new offerings for our current and prospective members.”


In July, Hydrow laid off 35 percent of its then 200-person workforce, or about 70 people. Around the same time, other fitness startups such as New York City-based Peloton and San Francisco-based Tonal, also made cuts, as the industry adjusted to a slowdown in demand for at-home workouts coming out of the pandemic.

It appears challenges at Hydrow have persisted — its team is getting smaller, and the prices of its products have gone up.

Last summer, in an effort to widen its customer base, Hydrow released a less expensive rowing machine. The new model was $1,000 cheaper than the company’s original machine and designed to fit better in small spaces. Hydrow has since increased that model’s price from $1,495 to $1,895.

Hydrow’s membership has also increased in price since the summer, from $38 to $44, which is the same price as Peloton’s “all-access” membership. (Hydrow customers can simply buy the machine with no membership, but the company markets membership as “an integral part” of the experience that “should not be considered an optional part of purchasing.”)


It’s unclear whether the new competition from Peloton was a factor in Hydrow’s recent layoff. In a September interview with BostInno, Smith said he welcomed the new entrant and added that he would have “great news” about funding to disclose in the coming weeks.

According to a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August, Hydrow raised nearly $21 million in funding after its first round of layoffs. Then in December, that filing was amended to indicate that the company raised $32 million. The privately-held company has not shared revenue or profit and loss information.

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8 and on Instagram @anissagardizy.journalism.