Has the ClassPass price hike affected the boutique fitness scene?

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“ClassPass prices are officially out of control” one writer declared in Money magazine after the company raised its New York City prices at the end of April. She wasn’t alone; in the days following the announcement, you could hardly go on Facebook without reading an angry missive railing against the rate change.

The hike, which increased unlimited monthly memberships to $200, came after prices jumped from $99 to $125 the summer before—and amid other changes to the business model, like the introduction of a five-class package.

It seemed like everyone was talking about consumer backlash piling on top of studio discontent, and rumors were even swirling that CEO Payal Kadakia was on her way out.

But two months later, has the price hike really had any effect on fitness-seeking consumers, studios, or ClassPass itself?

Many of the New Yorkers I spoke to said that while they may still be able to afford the new rate, they were compelled to cancel their membership because, as longtime loyal customers, they felt betrayed by the multiple dramatic increases in a short period of time.

“I got my money’s worth and would continue to do so if I stayed on the unlimited plan,” says Danielle Becker, a 29-year-old Murray Hill resident who attended five to six classes per week at studios like Peloton and Prana Power Yoga. “However, as a consumer, I felt insulted by the incredibly drastic price hike.”

But Kadakia, who is still with the company, says the “vast majority” have decided to stay on the platform, and that ClassPass has seen a lot of momentum around the new five- and ten-class packs.

“We did see a small percentage of our users decide to cancel their memberships in line with our expectations. But for most of our New York members, we’ve seen that the variety of plans we offer is more compelling since there is now an option for users, no matter where they are in their fitness journey,” she says. ClassPass’ CEO also emphasizes that before the increase, the company analyzed the pricing and plans in each individual market to pinpoint appropriate rates.

In terms of the studio partners, the increase may have one somewhat ironic effect. Studio owners have been complaining for a long time that ClassPass does not work as a lead-generating platform for attracting people who then convert to regular studio clients, a fact that Kadakia acknowledges. (“The majority of ClassPass customers represent a different segment of users, who enjoy lots of workout variety and discovery,” she says.)

But now that ClassPass is somewhat pricey, those who have the money may decide to defect and buy directly from their favorite studios. “We have not seen too much change in the studio thus far, but we have surely heard a lot of people express their disdain for the increases,” says Throwback Fitness co-founder Brian Gallagher. “And we have had some that decided to come on board with us full-time as a result.”

It also looks like the tide of boutique fitness fans that has been rising over the past couple of years may ebb slightly back towards….gasp!…gyms.

Thirty-eight-year-old Harlem resident Lindsay Robinson, for instance, was hitting up places like Mile High Run Club and Row House nearly every day as a ClassPass user. But when she canceled, she joined Crunch. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but so far so good. Is it Tone House or Fhitting Room? No!” she says. “But I know how to get a good workout, so I can figure it out. The classes are good enough to make me come back, and I am sore and feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.”

Megan Soh, a 26-year-old Brooklynite and devotee of Y7 and New York Pilates, shared a similar sentiment. “I would have stuck with it at $125, because I find it’s the best value at unlimited,” she says, “but with a $200 membership I could be a bad bitch up in Equinox, if you know what I mean.” Judging by the reaction online, many do.

Prefer your workouts to be free? We can help with that: Check out our Sweat Series videos, featuring everyone from Patricia Moreno from IntenSati to Dagmara Lometti of Barry’s Bootcamp leading awesome at-home workouts.

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