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Should yoga and fitness class cards have expiration dates?

Physique 57

Most fitness-class packages come with expiration dates, and losing money from unused classes can be seriously frustrating—especially when you’re fitting yoga, barre, and boot camp classes into any given week.

While the workout trend has been towards hopping among boutique studios and the benefits of cross training and muscle confusion (something that ClassPass has capitalized on and reinforces), studios continue to expect you to swear allegiance to them, and them alone, by setting a stopwatch after they swipe your credit card.

Lynda Lippin, a celebrity Pilates instructor who has worked at many big-name studios, cited cash flow as a main reason for expiration dates. Just like in other industries, lots of businesses (like Groupon) bank on “breakage,” or the money made from unused deals, gift cards, and, say, spin classes. SoulCycle and Flywheel have apply a 45-day expiration date to 5-class packs, so it’s a case of use it or lose it.

But when asked, most studios claimed their motivation was not financial at all.

Schulyer Grant, owner of Kula Yoga, said that the studio was trying to avoid an accounting nightmare.

“If there were no expiration date, someone could come to us three years down the line, and we may have changed our computing system (or prices), and they could claim they had a class card,” she says. “These things happen!”

And the majority of studios said this: They do it for you.

“When purchasing a package, you are a making a commitment to yourself. You are paying the studio for a service. Incentive, encouragement and accountability are part of that service,” says Flannery Foster, the owner of GoodYoga studios in Brooklyn. Owners of New York yoga studios like Bend & Bloom and YogaMaya offered the same reasoning.

Physique 57’s founder and CEO Jennifer Maanavi acknowledged that sticking to regular classes at one place is not just good for you, it helps the studio, too. In other words, if you say you’re a Physique gal, it’s better if you look the part.

“If you’re taking class and want to see results, the expiration dates are what we think will guide you to the best results,” she explains. “We’re backing up the brand promise with the logistics of the packages.”

But should a studio be the keeper of your fitness goals, or should you?

“We’re not here to put a time table on people’s personal resolutions,” says Joey Gonzalez, COO of Barry’s Bootcamp, which has a one-year expiration date on its purchased classes. “We’ve focused on building a community that makes people feel welcomed and encouraged.” As a result, says Gonzalez, most clients use up their packages quickly anyway. —Lisa Elaine Held

(Photo: Physique 57)