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The ultimate guide to boutique fitness booking platforms


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Photo: Gilt City
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Joining a gym like Blink or working out at home via free YouTube videos are the most affordable ways to amp up your workout routine for the new year.

But if boutique fitness classes motivate you to get moving in a way dusty machines or squatting up against your couch just can’t—or if you’ve embarked on a money cleanse to get your finances in shape—there are ways to nab a spot in your favorite Megaformer, barre, or TRX class without emptying your savings account.

And while ClassPass is still a popular option—even in this post-unlimited plan era—there are a handful of other upstarts looking to hook you up with a mat spot. To help you navigate the options, we compared the best platforms offering discounts on fitness classes right now.

Scroll through for the pros and cons of each plan, including average prices, to figure out which may be right for you.

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fitness discounts
Photo: ClassPass

ClassPass

Where it’s available: 39 cities across the United States and around the globe, from Austin to London to Sydney.

Cost: Depending on the plan (three, five, or 10 classes per month) and your city, you’ll pay somewhere between $7.50 and $15 per class.

Pros: ClassPass has no match when it comes to reach. Hundreds of studios are on the platform in larger cities—New York alone boasts a mind-blowing 900—and you can use your package in any of the more than three dozen others if you travel (as long as you designate your home city as the one you’ll use it in most often). No matter your workout preferences, there will be many classes (and even gyms) to choose from. It’s also still one of the best values when it comes to individual class price.

Cons: The company recently dropped its unlimited membership model, which is what many users loved it for. Depending on your package, you can only hit your favorite spot one to three times per month, and it’s sometimes hard to get into classes at more popular studios during peak times (AKA before and after work). Also, the selection of classes can feel overwhelming if you’re not familiar with your city’s fitness landscape.

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fitness discounts
Photo: ZenRez

ZenRez

Where it’s available: San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and Pittsburgh now, with plans to “have studios in every major US city by the end of 2017.”

Cost: The average discount is 25 percent off normal class price, although depending on the timing you can get up to 35 percent off. (Think paying $26 for a $35 class, for example.)

Pros: ZenRez uses dynamic pricing for last-minute bookings, so it’s perfect for those with always-changing schedules. If you’re stuck in a meeting way longer than you thought you’d be, for instance, you can use the app to still score a discount on a class an hour before it starts, and you can book at that studio as many times as you want. Finally, the selection of studios is well-curated, and it’s a model that studio owners like, in case you’re interested in supporting your fave yoga spot in a sustainable way.

Cons: It’s in limited cities at the moment, and unless you’re in San Francisco or LA, the class selection isn’t huge (although that’s changing every day).  It’s also not right for you if you like to plan ahead, since you can’t book classes until 9 p.m. the night before. Also: The discounts are smaller than some of the other platforms.

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fitness discounts
Photo: Dibs

Dibs

Where it’s available: Currently in five cities—New York, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, and London—with 12 studios overall. But after a long period of beta testing, co-founder Alicia Thomas says Dibs “started to scale in January 2017,” with an average weekly growth rate of 29 percent and 10 more studios joining the platform by the end of January.

Cost: Like airline tickets, Dibs uses an algorithm that calculates multiple variables to determine the demand for a class, and therefore its price. The key: Unlike ZenRez, studios sign on to have the platform manage all of their pricing, not just excess inventory, so a discount can range anywhere from 0 to 40 percent off the drop-in rate. That also means you generally save money by booking in advance, rather than at the last-minute.

Pros: If you like to plan ahead, you’ll benefit. And if you have a schedule that allows you to hit classes at off-peak times (hello, freelancers with midday flexibility), Dibs works to your advantage, since prices are generally lower then. It’s also a model that’s good for business, since it allows studios to sell inventory to a wider market of exercisers. Finally, the platform is really user-friendly and includes cool tech features like the ability to text to sign up for a class.

Cons: Right now, the selection of studios is very limited, with just 12 spread out across five cities. And discounts are not generally as deep as many of the other platforms represented here.

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FitReserve
Photo: FitReserve

FitReserve

Where it’s available: NYC and Boston, plus surrounding areas like Westchester County, NY; Cambridge, MA; and Connecticut, with plans to launch in “additional cities soon.”

Cost: Depending on your package (3, 5, 10, or 20 classes), you’ll pay about $13–$20 per class in New York and $10–$19 in Boston.

Pros: Unlike its closest competitor, ClassPass, nearly all of the studios on FitReserve provide access to the same class availability that someone booking through the studio would see, so you’re less likely to have trouble getting into peak classes. Except with the three-pack, the plans also allow you to visit studios you like four times per month compared to ClassPass’ three.

Cons: While FitReserve has a huge selection of studios on its platform (450 across the two areas), it’s not nearly as vast as ClassPass’ offerings, and fewer of the top-tier players are represented. And of course, it’s only available to New Yorkers and Bostonians currently.

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fitness discounts
Photo: [email protected]

Gilt City

Where it’s available: 13 cities across the country—NYC, LA, Chicago, Miami, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, Dallas, Washington, DC, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego.

Cost: Varies widely, but can be up to 55 percent off retail prices.

Pros: Unlike Groupon, Gilt still has some cachet, so if you catch it right, you can land a serious deal at a top-tier studio like 305 Fitness, Physique 57, Mile High Run Club, or Pop Physique. It’s also great for those who want to try CrossFit, since you’ve got to commit to an intro program and they often offer large class packages or an unlimited month.

Cons: Deals come and go faster than you can complete a Tabata interval, so you have to really pay attention or just get lucky. The quality of the studios varies, and the deals are usually only for first-timers, so don’t expect to get a break at any spot you’ve already gotten sweaty in.

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fitness discounts
Photo: OpenSweat

OpenSweat

Where it’s available: Los Angeles only, with plans to expand to “additional US markets in the next six months.”

Cost: Varies, but the typical discount is 40–50 percent off the regular class rate.

Pros: This brand-new platform lists discounted rates for classes at its participating studios at 6 p.m. for the following day, so it’s great if you have an erratic schedule and don’t want to commit to packages or class times in advance. The app is super user-friendly, and the discounts are bigger than its closest competitor, ZenRez.

Cons: Right now, if you’re not in sunny LA, you’re out of luck—plus, being the new kid in town, it doesn’t have nearly as many studios as ZenRez. And obviously if you’re the plan-your-weekly-workouts type, you’re going to want to pass on this one.

Way to get to class! FYI your sweat session could boost your career—as well as your metabolism, of course.