ClassPass: Is it worth the hype?

With the rise of fitness subscription companies like ClassPass and Fitset, we asked Vancouver-based fitness instructor Amanda Vogel for her take on the trend. Read on for insights from her experience

ClassPass: Is it worth the hype?

Making good use of your gym membership can sometimes feel like a struggle, but a fresh trend in the fitness industry is changing that. No, it’s not a buzzworthy new workout. It’s practically any workout you can imagine and then some!

Services like ClassPass, first made popular in New York City, U.S.-based Fitmob and Canada’s own Fitset are doing away with the need to join just one gym.

Membership with these services gives you instant access to hundreds of classes in your city at boutique-style fitness studios and even select big-box chains for one monthly fee: $99. A bargain, considering the typical drop-in class at a boutique studio will run you $25-$40.

ClassPass has already put down roots in 29 U.S. cities and in London, England. Now they’ve landed up north, launching in Vancouver and Toronto earlier this spring. Fitset is already available in Toronto and Montreal with plans to bring Calgary and Ottawa on board soon.

My ClassPass test-drive

When the folks at ClassPass asked me to give their two-year-old startup service a try, I leapt at the chance to sweat my way across an array of Vancouver’s trendiest fitness venues. Here’s what happened.

Booking my first class took only a few minutes. Both the ClassPass website and mobile iOS app (Android coming soon) are simple and self-explanatory. Once you’re logged in, you can filter classes by time of day, neighbourhood, studio and activity (e.g., yoga, cycling, barre, strength, etc.). The location filter was especially handy for selecting classes in close range‘realistically, I don’t have time to trek across town to work out. Luckily, with so many choices nearby, I didn’t have to.

Using ClassPass was like a scavenger hunt for new exercise options in my area. One Saturday morning, I panted my way through a 45-minute high-intensity circuit at a small studio that I must’ve driven past a dozen times but never noticed. Following my phone’s GPS, I was surprised to discover an airy yoga space with calming waterfront views tucked down an alley.

The smorgasbord-style no-contract monthly membership opens the door to a world of new workout environments and experiences. This is precisely the kind of variety that gets you fitter faster and keeps you motivated for longer

Attending classes was hassle-free. I recommend reserving a 5- to 10- minute buffer before class for filling out a waiver (not all studios required this though).  Staff members at some locations might offer a quick tour of the facility and get you up to speed on class protocol: a welcome crash course for any first-timer.

Having an abundance of classes at your fingertips’just tap or click ‘Reserve Class’ and it’s yours’does come with a few limitations. For example, some classes sell out fast. And not all studios allow ClassPassers to attend the most popular classes or time slots. Finally, you can’t visit the same studio or chain more than three times per month. With so many choices, though, I hardly noticed.   

When I got behind on an article deadline and had to drop a previously booked Barre class, the process took only seconds’hit ‘Cancel Class’ in the app or on the website within 12 hours of the scheduled time and you’re free and clear. Otherwise, you’ll find a $15 cancellation fee on your account and a loss of one class credit at that studio (remember, you can only go up to three times per studio, per monthly membership cycle).

A major perk for me was being able to pre-schedule workouts for the whole week and even farther in advance if I wanted to. There’s power in planning ahead. And once that 12-hour cancellation window closes, you’re committed. How else am I going to roll out of bed for 8 a.m. spin class on a Saturday? That motivation alone is worth the $99 pricetag.

Amanda Vogel is a Vancouver-based fitness instructor, blogger and a regular contributor to Best Health.