Kiwi pilates home-fitness entrepreneur backed by Games of Thrones producer

Kiwi fitness instructor Yvette McGaffin and her Irish husband Neal have launched what they claim is the first internet-connected home reformer pilates machine, backed by Hollywood producer Bernadette Caulfield.

The couple relocated from Auckland to Northern Ireland in 2015 and opened Pilates studios in Belfast and in Edinburgh, Scotland. Caulfield, whose TV shows include Games of Thrones and The X-Files, trained with Yvette McGaffin in Belfast at 5.30am three times a week while shooting Games of Thrones.

After teaching in both New Zealand and Australia, and running reformer pilates studios in the UK, McGaffin said she and her husband had identified a gap in the luxury home-fitness market. Research showed consumers lacked confidence to complete a reformer pilates workout away from an instructor-led class so the McGaffins set about developing a “smart” machine.

Users will be able to link in to live and on-demand classes led by professional instructors around the world, following the instructor on a screen mounted on the machine. In-built data-tracking capabilities can record performance and provide “biometric feedback” including calorie burn, heart rate and power output.

The Emmy Award-winning Caulfield has made a “major” investment in McGaffin’s company to help develop the ReformRX, and acted as a mentor to the couple.

The bespoke reformer Pilates machine will retail at $9850 ($10,830 with extras) and will initially launch in the UK and Ireland market this month, with the help of a dedicated RX showroom in London. McGaffin plans to expand into the US market next year, and distribute in New Zealand, Australia and the Middle East.

“Through the combined investment and support we have received from Bernadette and other angel investors, we’re at a stage where we are ready to now launch into the consumer market.”

The next round of fundraising was now under way, McGaffin said. The company is looking for $10 million to add to its original seed funding of $1.5m, to enable the company to increase production and recruit key staff, including additions to its software, sales and marketing teams.

The global at-home fitness equipment market was a growing segment before Covid-19 but after the pandemic caused lockdown restrictions and gym closures, consumer demand for premium equipment had accelerated, McGaffin said.

The global home fitness equipment sector was anticipated to reach a value of $5.9 billion by 2025.

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