Sue Bird is plenty busy these days, trying to guide the Seattle Storm to their fifth WNBA championship and getting set to chase her fifth Olympic gold medal as a member of Team USA. Along the way, the basketball great is throwing her support behind another tech gadget, making a pitch for smart home fitness trainer Tonal and investing in the startup.
A new 30-second ad from the brand (above) is set to air before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday. Bird is shown working out on Tonal’s digital weight system and in a voiceover says, “I’ve redefined my position, and what a champion looks like. So how do I keep changing the game for good? By raising the bar even higher.”
A brand ambassador for San Francisco-based Tonal, Bird also backs the company, which raised $250 million in a funding round earlier this year and passed the $1 billion unicorn status in valuation. Other athlete backers include New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald; tennis pro Maria Sharapova; and boxer Mike Tyson.
TechCrunch reported that, like other home fitness equipment makers, Tonal saw an explosion in demand and sales during the pandemic and is now dumping big money into marketing and brand awareness.
Bird, who at age 40 is the oldest player in the WNBA, previously told GeekWire that the revolution in sports tech that helps athletes train and recover better is a big reason for her career longevity. She’s played 17 seasons with the Storm.
“If it’s going to help you, if it’s going to elongate your career, you are an idiot if you don’t use it, why wouldn’t you use it?” Bird said of sports technology in 2017.
She called Tonal one of the best pieces of fitness equipment she’s ever used.
“I was immediately impressed by the technology’s ability to challenge me and push me to the next level with my strength training,” Bird said. “I’m excited to be a user, an investor, and a partner to a brand that I believe is pushing the boundaries on what’s possible in performance training.”
Bird previously invested in Seattle-based startup Vermouth, makers of a friend-based review app that was acquired by Valor Worldwide in February 2020. She also backed basketball training technology company Shoot 360 in a $2.25 million round in April and is an investor in artificial intelligence company Diveplane.
In addition to the reveal of the new ad, Bird was also named this week as a flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo games.