I Finally Tried ClassPass, And Here’s What I Learned Outside My Gym Comfort Zone

Photo: Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa.
Update, November 27, 2019: ClassPass is offering a free three-week subscription for first-time users. Enroll between November 27 and Monday, December 2 to take advantage of the trial offer here.
Despite a sometimes crazy work schedule, I do my best to work out regularly: I have a gym membership that I actually use, try to hit 10,000 steps a day, and genuinely love outdoorsy things like hiking. However, until recently, I'd yet to sign up for the popular fitness app ClassPass — you know, the one that officially made boutique fitness a thing of the masses — even though I love mixing up my workouts, and have a soft spot for studios that stock Malin + Goetz shampoo in the showers.
So, yeah: I'd like to think that I'm a fairly active person, and by all accounts, I felt predisposed to love ClassPass; I get served ads for them all the time on Instagram, and admittedly have gotten this close to signing up a handful of times before snapping my purse shut right before hitting add to cart. However, there are many reasons why I felt I'd have a lot to gain from investing in a membership: I'm a twenty-something woman living in NYC, where bougie workout studios are ubiquitous — but I don't take full advantage of this. I've found that working out is amazing for easing my anxiety. And, I live by my Google Calendar. (ClassPass has integration for this.)
Well, after years of holding out, on the persuasion of some die-hard R29 ClassPass-goers that sung its praises in our #TalkAnything Slack channel, I finally took the plunge, signed up for a free two-week trial, and lost my ClassPass virginity. On top of my trial, ClassPass did comp me 100 additional credits so that I could continue to try different workouts for this review. (This story was not reviewed by or approved by ClassPass.) After a month of testing the limits of credits and ducking out a little early in the name of reporting, here are my five main takeaways from the experience.

1. If you get bored easily, then congrats! Working out just got way better.

This is obviously the main draw, but in my opinion, the best thing about ClassPass is that it gives you access to a ton of studios specializing in everything from aerial yoga and aqua cycling (check and check, both were excellent for my back), to popular workouts like Pilates, spin, and (non-aerial) yoga. It encourages you to get out of your comfort zone by offering less-culty classes (= aqua-cycling) at often lower credit values — more on this later — but is also made to help you discover the studios that you'll keep going back to. Both are great for supporting routine behavior which is key when it comes to staying in shape. Plus, varying up your workouts as much as you feel comfortable can make a major difference in your overall fitness; after taking regular barre classes (which I didn't go to super often because barre is expensive and a single Physique 57 leaves my entire body feeling like jello), I noticed that suddenly, holding chair pose at Y7 was NBD. Go, me!

2. It's (actually!!) a good value.

I'll be totally honest that the main reason why I held off from trying ClassPass was the cost factor. Nearly everyone I'd chatted with told me that whether it was the monthly membership cost (which is flexible based on how many credits you want per month) or late cancellation fees, ClassPass was a significant investment. Each class in NYC roughly clocks in between 4 - 14 credits and I was able to get in five classes during my two-week trial — and I was actually surprised to find that my credits went much further than I'd expected. There's definitely a surge pricing-esque algorithm at play (i.e. the busier the class, the higher the credits and it fluctuates), but I didn't have any issues finding something I loved within the number of credits I had left.
Screenshot Courtesy of Karina Hoshikawa
Now, a common gripe I'd hear from friends is that all the "good classes" like Flywheel had obnoxiously high credit values. If you're a cult follower of any of those higher credit classes, then a trial period will be a true test to see how far the credits take you versus how much you'd spend buying classes directly with your choice studio. I'm pretty sold on ClassPass at this point, but I still haven't figured out which available pricing plan is the one for me. I'll likely start on the lower end of the pricing tier to be safe.
Another positive aspect is that up to ten unused credits from the month roll over to the following month, so you won't get penalized for not using up your entire month's amount.

3. It makes working out a more social experience.

Sure, I'll sometimes sweat it out with my twin sister, but I don't really count her as someone I have to make remotely any sort of social effort with. (If you're close with your sibling, you understand this unique relationship, and how this is genuinely the highest compliment one can hope to receive.) However, there are moments when I love meeting a PR friend or coworker for a yoga class, and for those moments, ClassPass has virtually removed the barrier to entry — that is, if the person you're going with is also a member.
Here's what I mean: Before, I'd be less inclined to say yes to a spin class invite because I'd have to pay à la carte for a class — which can feel like a lavish expense if I just paid my rent and student loan bills. However, if the cost is bundled into my monthly credit allotment, suddenly an after-work trampoline cardio class with R29's social media editor (shout out to Hannah Bullion!) is totally doable. In addition to being a fun way to mutually motivate, ClassPass also incentivizes you sharing the app with your friends by offering a $40 credit for new referrals.

4. It holds you financially and psychologically accountable.

Remember that thing I said earlier about late cancellation fees? If you're not careful, they add up — and fast. Different studios have different time windows to cancel or reschedule your class, and if you don't read the fine print, you can get slapped with a $15 fee. While it's a pain point if your schedule can be unpredictable, it's also a way to get your ass to the class in order to avoid getting charged. If you truly have a slammed and completely nutso schedule, ClassPass might not be for you. While the local gym's treadmill isn't as fun, you know it'll always be available and waiting for you at 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. — no appointments necessary.
Perhaps more importantly than the financial element, however, is the fact that ClassPass knows how to Jedi mind-trick you into signing and showing up to your workouts by offering completion badges, push notifications, and yep, calendar invites that encourage you to prioritize your fitness routine. It's a little Pavlovian to respond to positive reinforcement, yes, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel like a G when I got a virtual ribbon for showing up to my first three classes booked through the app.

5. It goes where you go.

If you travel often for work or pleasure, then this is a game-changer. Unlike a regional gym membership or even a Soulcycle package, you can sign up for classes through ClassPass in a ton of major cities all around the world without incurring any additional cost. During a recent weekend trip to Boston with my boyfriend, I was delighted to see that there was a PureBarre, SLT, and Flywheel all within walking distance to our Airbnb. As it happens, I forgot to toss in a pair of workout clothes in my luggage, so while I ended up spending my morning face-down in pancakes rather than on a stationary bike, it was awesome to know that had I been slightly less forgetful, I could've clocked in an additional workout while on vacation.
Another sleeper hit about the app is the treasure trove of unlimited on-demand videos that you have access to no matter your membership. You can cast these onto your TV or watch them on your computer, and voilà: You officially have no excuse not to workout if you can't get outside to a studio or are running low on credits.

Now, what?

All in all, my ClassPass experience vastly exceeded my already fairly high expectations. The app was so easy to use, and scheduling my workouts for the week ended up being something I genuinely looked forward to doing on Sunday nights. I'm currently planning to combine my ClassPass membership with my gym one (they offer a partnership plan with Blink, which is honestly the most genius bundle since Hulu/Spotify), since I still want the option to sweat it out on a treadmill or elliptical without the caveat of cancellation fees.
And in case you couldn't already tell, I'm more than a little obsessed with my recent discovery of aqua cycling — and have the glitter water shoes to prove it.
If you're interested in trying ClassPass for the first time yourself, there's always some sort of free trial to scoop up on the site.
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