While ClassPass has made waves with nearly every change it’s made over the past few years, another discount fitness booking company has been working quietly in the background to present a totally different approach—and it could make your workouts more affordable very soon.
ZenRez is a San Francisco-based website and app that allows you to book last-minute fitness and yoga classes at a curated selection of studios at a below-standard rate. How, exactly? Prices are determined by demand, like what you see with hotels or flights on websites like Priceline.
It’s well-established in the NoCal city, but the platform is now developing a bigger presence in Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, and Pittsburgh, PA, with more than 400 studios across the four cities—and new spots added every day. (For studios outside of SF, check the app; the site does not list them yet.)
But don’t cancel your monthly gym dues just yet. “We’re more of a discovery platform—we’re going to have millions of users, no membership,” says founder and CEO Matt Capizzi, who came up with the concept in grad school, where he developed a yoga habit.
How does ZenRez work? And is it worth a try? Keep reading for everything you need to know about this growing fitness booking app.
Nightly deals for next-day classes
Here’s how it works: At 9 p.m. every night, available classes at participating studios go up for the following day, depending on each studio’s inventory of unsold class spots. The pricing depends on how popular the class time typically is, how many spots are available at that moment, and how close you book to the start time.
For instance, if you log on at 4 p.m. and there are still five spots available in a 5 p.m. class, you’re likely to get a really great deal, as opposed to a class that’s 15 hours away, has one spot left, and almost always sells out.
In San Francisco, there are lots of varied studios to choose from—HIIT, barre, yoga, Pilates, and more. In newer cities, the selection is smaller, but there are still top-tier options. In New York City, for instance, you could score a spot to row at CityRow, flow at Modo Yoga, or throw (a spear…maybe) at Epic Hybrid Training.
Of course, if you like to schedule your workouts at the start of the week, ZenRez won’t help you. Plus, the discounts are not nearly as steep as those that ClassPass offers. (You may get a $34 class for $24, for instance.)
“We’re more of a quality play, not a quantity play. We hit a fundamentally different customer,” Capizzi says.
A business model that studios like
That’s one reason why many studio owners are excited by the model. CityRow founder and CEO Helaine Knapp says she was willing to give ZenRez a shot because the company allows her to be in control of the pricing.
She also likes that, since the discounts aren’t huge, potential clients don’t become accustomed to paying dirt cheap rates for fitness classes. “They’re not devaluing the product that much,” she says, “but we’re still giving people a deal if there’s last-minute availability.”
Capizzi says he’s also made sure ZenRez doesn’t compete with discounts that studios give for buying class packages directly. “We’re unlocking people who the studio isn’t currently serving,” he says. “If you love the studio and end up going 10 times, you’ll buy a package from them.”
Not just new users, but new clients too
This could be key to ZenRez’s potential success: Studio owners feel that the clients ZenRez delivers are more likely to become their own clients, a promise ClassPass has never been able to deliver on. “They reach a different audience. It’s a little bit of a higher-end clientele because they pay a little more for the classes,” says Justin Norris, the co-founder of LA’s LIT Method, which has been using ZenRez since it opened about nine months ago. “They don’t mind paying the premium drop-in rate, so they likely wouldn’t mind paying our class-pack prices.”
Jennifer Kartiganer’s San Francisco studio, OMpower, was the very first to join the platform more than two years ago, and agrees completely. She also points out that it’s a great option for people who travel a lot or have erratic schedules and find themselves constantly paying for classes they can’t make.
Overall, she says she’s never been disappointed by ZenRez. “It’s beneficial to all three parties—we benefit as studios, ZenRez benefits, and so does the customer…and it takes into account the experience of all three,” she explains. “It’s a win-win-win across the board, which is really unusual.”
So you’re ready to sample some new studios. Time to suit up! Here are the top fitness fashion trends of the year—or, you can just tweak your current wardrobe with this cool-girl activewear styling trick.