How Obe Virtual Fitness Platform Brings Audiences Together “Around an IP That They Love”
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Rather than basking in the sun over Memorial Day weekend, fitness instructor Peter Tucci donned a punky black-and-white wig to channel Cruella de Vil (in sync with Cruella‘s May 28 release) while leading live cardio dance classes for virtual fitness platform Obé — short for Our Body Electric. Founded in 2018 by former talent agents Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills (who met while at CAA), Obé is distinguishing itself in the fitness space by partnering with networks and streaming services. Last year, the company teed up special sweat sessions in partnership with HBO Max around shows including Euphoria, Game of Thrones, Sesame Street and Sex and the City. Says Jason Mulderig, senior vp brand marketing at HBO Max and HBO, “This was a unique partnership for us and one that we were extremely happy with as it was an authentic way for us to connect with fans.”
In March, Walt Disney Animation Studios paired Obé with Raya and the Last Dragon screenwriter-choreographer Qui Nguyen to design martial arts workouts timed to the film’s release. And James Alsop, choreographer of Peacock’s series Girls5eva, created ’90s-themed fitness numbers with guest appearances by herself and castmembers timed to the show’s May debut. Says Mills, “We love to do these specials that bring the audience together around an IP that they love.”
For its non-themed classes — all produced at its studio in Brooklyn — Obé has a signature look: a clean space illuminated by an ever-changing dance of neon lights inspired by the minimalist light artists James Turrell and Dan Flavin. “These beautiful sets and lighting help transport you from your living room or hotel to get you in the right mindset,” Mullett tells THR. “We are building a first-of-its-kind ‘entertrainment’ network. You’ve obviously heard of appointment viewing, and what we’re delivering is appointment moving.”
The pair’s work trips to L.A. during their agency days served as a catalyst for the concept. “The time zone change would work in our favor. We would get up early and take all the hot [fitness] classes in L.A. and obsess over the experience,” says Mullett. “One day we said, ‘We know this business inside and out; we know great talent — let’s bring this variety-filled experience to people in all walks of life in any location and at any level of their fitness game.’ “
Stars who have attended classes include Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, Tamera Mowry, SZA, Tabitha Brown and Kelly Ripa, and Obé’s investors include CAA, Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss, Away co-founder Jen Rubio, Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman, and Food Network star Katie Lee. Obé does not release numbers, but Mullett says that its audience tripled between March 2020 and March 2021 as virtual classes boomed during the pandemic. A subscription model ($27 monthly to $199 annually, obefitness.com), Obé offers 22 live daily classes and over 6,000 on-demand classes, ranging from five to 60 minutes, including cardio boxing, vinyasa yoga, Pilates, barre, strength training, dance and meditation.
“We have 25 instructors on the platform. Most of them come from entertainment backgrounds — a lot of folks have been on Broadway or in dance companies,” says Mills. “We hire these really amazing performers and the X factor is the personalities. They make you laugh; they make you cry.”
A version of this story first appeared in the June 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
source : https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lifestyle/style/obe-virtual-fitness-online-classes-1234964387/