The insane increase in partner studios and gyms (455 were added in the past year) is just one of the many, many things that’s changed about the boutique fitness membership platform recently, along with the addition of varying class pack options, price hikes, and most recently, the discontinuation of the Unlimited class plan.
“In the past few years, we’ve nearly doubled or tripled the amount of studio partners in most of our markets, and we have almost 1 million classes available each month,” says CEO and founder Payal Kadakia. “We’ve also taken this year to invest in our product and new features for a more tailored and flexible experience.”
Since that experience could be pretty unrecognizable to someone who was a member three years ago and is thinking of giving it another shot, I gave the Core plan (10 classes) a test drive over the past month to find out what, exactly, it’s really like to use ClassPass in New York City…right now.
Here are seven things you need to know if you’re thinking of using ClassPass to sweat all over town.
1. The selection can be overwhelming
My head nearly exploded when I started browsing the full list of classes without a filter of any kind. As someone who’s been covering fitness in NYC for more than six years, I’ve been to hundreds of studios and know of hundreds more, but there were still pages and pages of tiny places I’d never even heard of. For someone new to fitness, I could see it being tough to figure out where to start—and, at first, you might end up in some classes of questionable quality, since there seems to be little curation.
2. But the app is really helpful
ClassPass launched the 2.0 version of its app in early October, and it’s really well-designed and easy to navigate, helping to alleviate the issues mentioned in my first point. You can filter classes based on exact time, neighborhood, type (barre, spin, etc.), how you want to feel (chill, energized), and even whether or not the spot has a shower.
Setting a few parameters makes the selection way more manageable, and it also does a great job at recommending classes based on your past behavior. Finally, it makes it easy to book classes you liked again, allows you to save studios as your favorites, and even includes a map feature that shows classes right near you for last-minute, on-the-go bookings.
3. It’s hard to get into classes at top studios (unless you don’t work a 9–5)
ClassPass users have always had issues with not being able to get spots in classes with more cachet, and that’s still the case, especially for prime before- or after-work time slots. I found it pretty tough to book Tone House, Barry’s Bootcamp, and The Fhitting Room, for example, except during off-peak times. (If you’re a freelancer and can go to classes midday, you’re in luck!) And many of the bigger names still aren’t on ClassPass at all, like SoulCycle, SLT, 305 Fitness, and Shadowbox, so if these are studios that matter to you, it’s probably not the right option.
4. It’s a great time to be a barre babe
The incredible growth of many barre studio brands over the past few years has led to a ton of variety and availability in this realm. If barre is your workout of choice, I can’t see how ClassPass wouldn’t be a good idea. For example: On a Wednesday, I searched for open barre classes in Manhattan that coming Friday morning at peak time. Between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., there were spots available in classes at Physique 57, Pop Physique, FlyBarre, Pure Barre, Barre3, Core Fusion at Exhale, and Bar Method—many at multiple locations.
5. Spin is also a sweet spot
Despite the absence of SoulCycle, there are many, many indoor cycling options, with classes available almost all of the time. Flywheel always seemed to have the most open spots (thanks to so many locations, I presume), and there were tons of others, from Cyc and Swerve to smaller studios and classes at gyms like Crunch, which brings me to…
6. You can now go to the gym, too
It was news when ClassPass added its first gym partner, Crunch, in early 2015. Now, there’s a long list of gym partners on board, many with dozens of locations all over the city. Instead of booking a class, for instance, you can snag gym time at Crunch, New York Sports Club, 24-Hour Fitness, or DavidBartonGym. Of course, memberships at all of those spots are cheaper than joining ClassPass, so this feature is only beneficial if you prefer studio classes but just want to hit the gym once in a while. (An insider secret also used to be that users would book gym time after classes at small studios to shower, but the end of the Unlimited plan ruins that strategy.)
7. For the right person, it’s still a great value
The 10-class pack now costs $135 in New York City, or $13.50 per class. That’s a great value considering most classes cost upwards of $30 each at retail value, as long as you’re okay with sacrificing first crack at booking prime spots and times (and remember that you can only hit the same studio three times in a month).
If you’re a casual fitness enthusiast who lives to try new things all the time, it’s perfect. If you have favorite instructors at The Fhitting Room and Cyc and will go six days a week without fail—or want to work on a super-focused fitness goal—it’s probably not going to work for you.
One thing’s for sure: There will be more changes ahead. “I’m also excited for the many things still to come as we look towards 2017—that includes on-demand video and ‘out of studio’ experiences like group runs and social features,” Kadakia says.
Have you tried the ClassPass since the service shook things up this year? Let us know what you think in the Comments!
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