November 2, 2016

October Goal Challenge Complete: 20 ClassPass Gym Classes

I was really proud of myself for how I did with my October goal challenge. I was afraid that doing 20 gym classes in 20 days was too aggressive. But I ended up finishing the month with 24 classes at 17 different studios! I definitely discovered some new favorites that I plan to visit in the future. Here’s the rundown of all the classes I took in the last week:

Barre Forte: This is a relatively new chain of barre studios that has popped up in the Denver area, and ClassPass reviews made it sound like it was much harder than a regular barre class. Eh- I thought it was a pretty good barre class, but not anything different/special. We did work with weights for arms more than in a PureBarre class (and they had reasonably heavy dumbbells rather than just 1-3 pounds), but otherwise it was pretty standard. I’ll go back if the times work with my schedule, but won’t be going out of my way to get here again. 3/5 stars

CoreCardio Circuit at CorePower Yoga: I wrote about how much I loved this class last week, and so I was thrilled to go back. This time it touched on being a full body workout, but was really more focused on legs – and oh, boy, did it get them good! I could tell even before leaving class that I was going to be pretty sore, and I was right. 5/5 stars

Denver Sports Recovery: I wrote about this my first week, and once again, this was awesome. I arrived with incredibly sore glutes from CoreCardio Circuit, and that was my focus for the session. This time I started with the SwissWing (spending two minutes on each glute), then moved onto the brutality of the hot/cold tubs, and then spent some time relaxing in the infrared sauna, which was new to me. The infrared sauna had a tablet where you could watch Netflix or listen to music, so I spent my time in there watching an old episode of Friends, which was pretty fun 🙂 Finally, I ended with the Marc Pro shocking my butt muscles (which was crazy to feel/watch) while a stim machine was simultaneously hooked up to loosen my lower back muscles. It is still amazing to me that I can get such a state-of-the-art experience as part of my ClassPass membership – I can’t wait to use this during ski season! 5/5 stars

Beat CycleAha, this class made me remember why I didn’t like Beat Cycle a year ago. Instructor Lucy continually told us to “add turns to the right”, but never once told us to take the resistance back down, which made it hard to know what level I was supposed to be at. Furthermore, there were a lot of times where we’d have an incredibly fast beat, but supposed to be bopping around on the bike, and it just felt dangerous – I couldn’t keep the pace while also doing the moves she wanted. I love the concept of dancing on the bike, and I love how it gives me a total body workout rather than a focus on legs/core, but I think I’ll be skipping Lucy’s classes going forward and just looking out for Kenya and Danielle, since they seem to execute the concept in a way that’s safer and more comfortable for me. 3/5 stars

Ballet Barre at Dance2B: Ugh, this was hands down the worst ClassPass class I’ve taken. The instructor was 20 minutes late (to a 60 minute class), and when I asked the other students if we should leave, they responded, “oh, no, he’s usually late. He’ll just add extra time on at the end.” Um, cool that he has no respect and you don’t mind sticking around, but I made other plans after class? Then I was also frustrated because the class title said “all levels”, but it turned out to be an intro to ballet for absolute beginners. I would say that of the 40 minutes I was there, we were dancing for about 10 minutes and the rest of the time was the instructor stopping the entire class so he could work with one student for five minutes before we’d resume. The kicker was when the (one and only) across the floor combination turned out to be “walking gracefully across the floor.” How is that “all levels”? If I could somehow request a refund for this, I would. 0/5 stars

TBC at The Barre Code: I had taken some Barre Code classes in Dallas, and enjoyed TBC the most. It’s a bootcamp style class that involves some strength work at the barre (very few traditional barre moves) interspersed with cardio sections in the middle of the room. Definitely got me sweaty and my heart rate up! I really liked the Barre Code studio in downtown Denver – it was very shiny and new, and had not just one but two studios so classes could run concurrently, which I thought was neat. But the best part was that they had a really nice shower area and makeup/hair stations, so you could easily take a class and then get ready for work in a posh environment. I’m eager to take more classes here. 5/5 stars

Yoga Sculpt at CorePower Yoga: This was my first time checking out a true yoga class at CorePower in Colorado (vs the bootcamp circuit), and I wasn’t very much a fan. The Boulder hill studio was a lot older and more rundown than the South Boulder location, and the locker room was particularly packed and icky. The class itself was decent – we started with a yoga flow, and then went into some flow + weights mixed with little sprints of cardio. Unfortunately, the heat in the studio made it really hard to execute some of the moves, since it made me sweat so much. For example, when I would do

Strength 45 / Dance Mixx at Jazzercise: I was hoping that Strength 45 would be kind of like BodyPump, and it seemed to want to be that, but was nowhere near as difficult/intense. If I went again, I’d get a set of weights so that I could easily trade up for various exercises, but honestly, I don’t think I’ll be back. After Strength 45, I stuck around for the Dance Mixx class afterward – figuring that pure cardio would go nicely right after weights. This was a pretty fun Jazzercise class that was well-taught by instructor Amy, and while the base moves were easy-to-moderate, you could up the intensity by jumping/going all out/etc. The end of the class included some basic strength work that I thought covered everything in Strength 45, so I kind of wished I had skipped that first class. I’ll probably come back to Dance Mixx when I want a decent sweat, but one that’s not going to make me sore the next day. 2/5 stars

Fitwall: I had just received an email from ClassPass that they added a bunch of new Denver studios, and one of those was Fitwall. I was pretty pumped – Fitwall has been featured in Well & Good as a hot and trendy workout, and I was eager to give it a try. The technology was pretty cool – screens above each machine are constantly demonstrating and counting down, so that the instructor is free to just walk around, correct form, and offer encouragement. The class went by really fast, probably in part because the intervals were short and sweet and also partially because it was only 40 minutes. But I felt like I got a good workout in, and look forward to returning and increasing my agility at some of the climbing on the wall moves. Best part, for me, is that they have a beautiful new facility that’s about a mile from my office, so it made it easy to work out, shower/get ready, and then walk to work from there. I’ll be back regularly in the future! 5/5 stars

Here’s a visual – pretty unique, huh? I plan to go back several more times and then hopefully post a full class review.

Unfortunately, the once-triumphant end of my challenge came with big splash of cold water. This morning, ClassPass announced that they will be discontinuing the unlimited option for classes, and instead just offering a ten class/month option for $95/month. So, I’m getting charged $6/month more than I currently pay for unlimited, but now I’m limited to ten classes. I’m pissed, to say the least!

I understand that perhaps the Unlimited model wasn’t sustainable for ClassPass, particularly if you get power users like me who take a ton of classes. However, I don’t understand why ClassPass can’t continue to offer an unlimited option for a higher price point – or at the very least, offer some permanent packages that come with more than ten classes per month. ClassPass has vaguely said that they will allow you to buy add-on packs if you want more than ten classes/month, but they conveniently haven’t said how much those packs will be. I’m guessing they’ll be something comparable to the $20/class you can currently pay if you want to take another class at a studio where you’ve already hit your three class/studio/month limit, and for me, that eliminates the value of going through ClassPass compared to booking directly with the studio.

Beyond the end users, I also think this is likely to hurt the studios who partner with ClassPass for “exposure”. When I have unlimited classes, I’m willing to experiment with new studios, even if they turn out not to be my cup of tea. (Like that terrible ballet barre class I mentioned above.) If I know that I only get ten classes per month, there is no way I’m going to waste 10% of my membership on a class that I haven’t already tried and know to be awesome. I doubt I’ll try new studios at all, unless it’s truly the newest fitness trend sweeping the nation and I’ve heard it’s awesome (a la Fitwall), or unless I’ve already taken advantage of the free intro class that most studios offer. In the end, the studio isn’t getting any value by being on ClassPass, since I can try the class out off the platform – which also offers me more flexibility in booking, since most studios limit which classes they put on ClassPass anyway, and frequently have more relaxed cancellation policies that are better for me.

Finally, ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia says in her post on the ClassPass blog:

“What kind of business would we be if we wanted our members to work out less to reduce costs?”

Unfortunately, by putting a cap on the number of classes I can take per month, that is exactly the kind of business that ClassPass has become. Psychologically, I don’t like having to pay for individual gym classes: it’s just extra deterrent to exercise that I don’t need. I know that I always could run outside, lift weights at home, follow along with barre videos, or do any number of workouts that are free to me. I like that ClassPass adds a level of accountability to my exercise by making me schedule a class, but if I have to pay per class for that accountability, I’ll probably reduce how often I take advantage of it. Part of why I like the ClassPass unlimited model is that once I’ve paid my membership fee for the month, all classes thereafter are “free” if you look at it as a sunk cost. You can also look at each class as increasing the value of your membership by decreasing the average cost of a class – so basically, paying a flat unlimited rate encourages me to work out more. Whether Kadakia likes it or not, this pricing change is absolutely encouraging me to work out less – or leave ClassPass.

Ultimately, this post is one big rant against a policy change that’s already been decided, and that I’m pretty sure won’t change. So to sum up my thoughts on ClassPass (and this October challenge), it was nice while it lasted. Going forward, we have one month left of unlimited ClassPass membership before the switch, and I’m going to spend that month continuing to try as many studios as possible so I know which ones are worth buying classes in the future. I’ll also start doing some hard research to see what the price per class is when buying through the studio rather than ClassPass. At $10/class, it very well could be worth it for me to stick with ClassPass and use it at the more expensive studios that I enjoy. But I also know that some of those studios have very limited ClassPass availability, so I might not be able to use all ten classes/month – in which case, it’s probably better for me to buy some discounted class packs at the studios themselves. I think I’m ultimately going to be looking for a new unlimited option.


6 thoughts on “October Goal Challenge Complete: 20 ClassPass Gym Classes”

  1. I started with class pass when they were classtivity and after all the price increases and model changes I finally let go about a year ago, maybe a bit more. I get it, it is business – but like you said – make an unlimited option at a price point that agrees with the model. If people want to pay, they will! And honestly I am not sure I understand what there is to lose by offering an unlimited option at a high price point.
    On the flip side I do know classpass irks the studios. My sister instructs at both flybarre and mile high run club and has spoken that classpass users aren’t apt to purchase outside their package and the studio loses money.

    1. I think it will be interesting to see how many of those who were devoted to a studio (but previously only went on Classpass) will now convert to regular users. There are a few studios where I am contemplating buying packages, now that Classpass is changing its model.

  2. I live in Boston where unlimited was $180/month. Totally not surprised by the change (you took 24 classes for less than $100??? They def lost money on you). It looked like extra classes here were $45 for 3. (For full disclosure, I have had classpass on and off for 2 years, and my account is currently on hold so I get one class for $15/month and that is less than the last time I was on hold.)

    1. I should note that last month was a crazy month for me, where I was intentionally trying to take as many classes as possible 🙂 But I learned from a studio owner that Classpass only pays studios $6/class, so for a power user who takes 20 classes/month, that’s still a $120 breakeven. I’d be totally willing to pay $150 for 20 classes, but that’s not an option 🙁

  3. I think you would have to pay a lot more than $150 for 20 classes. Remember, ClassPass has its own expenses overhead. At my boutique gym, the current rate is $220 (+ initiation fee) for unlimited classes (I pay less because I bought my membership a while ago). Paying a membership to one gym definitely involves less overhead than something like ClassPass, where there are so many classes involved. I think you would have to expect to pay around $250 for an unlimited membership… How many people are willing to do that?

    1. Good points – but that’s also highly dependent on your city. Denver is $89/month, so if the expectation was that would get me 10 classes, I’d estimate 20 classes at $179… or maybe a little less if they expect more people won’t use all 20 than will use all 10.

      To your point, though, I would probably not pay $250/month, since that works out to about $13/class. If I buy big packages at the studios I like, I can usually get them for around $15/class, and I would gladly pay that $3 upcharge to not have to be constrained by Classpass availability/restrictions.

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