Friday, May 15, 2015

Goodbye ClassPass


Well folks, I've come to the bitter end with ClassPass.  Yes, after joining just over 3 months ago, I finally pulled the plug on this grand experiment and cancelled my membership before it was due to renew May 6th.

You may be asking yourself why I decided to cancel my membership, since most of my blogs recapping studios were fairly positive (despite a few used band aids, people praying over me and some fireworks fingers).  And yes, I will freely admit, I did have fun giving this a whirl. 

In fact, I liken the entire experience to the fun of reaching into the duck pond at the school carnival when you were a kid.

I say this because with ClassPass, when you try a studio for the first time, it is just like picking a duck from the pond: you walk in to the studio hoping you drew the lucky duck that wins you the premium prize in the tent, the giant stuffed unicorn (AKA the good studio). 

Overall, it's a super fun, exciting experience because you've got high hopes that you're going to win the unicorn.  And sometimes ... you do get that unicorn!  Hooray!!  Congratulations!!  You found a good studio. 

But other times, no matter how many fingers you cross, you walk into a studio and realize ... you pulled the duck that awards you a damn broken kazoo.  Boo!!  You found a studio that's dirty, or has bad instructors, or does something else weird (like opening with a Christian prayer). 

Oh well, at least you still get some sort of workout out of the deal, right?!

Anyway - at first, I really didn't mind that entire duck pond experience.  It gave me a new level of interest in working out, since I was getting to try all these new things.  And, just because I didn't like a particular studio didn't mean someone else wouldn't come in after me and love it - to each their own in fitness, right?!  I mean, whatever you enjoy and keeps you active!! 

But some time in my third month of ClassPass membership, I don't know when it was exactly, I realized something: I had grown tired of spending my time and money on broken kazoos. 

Now before I go too far, to be fair: I might not even be writing this blog if I lived closer to the downtown area of Minneapolis, and maybe I'd still be keeping my membership if I did live there.  When you consider the majority of the studios in the ClassPass network are concentrated in downtown Minneapolis and the immediate surrounding areas, I'm sure I could find lots of other unicorns to enjoy out there. 

But, living in the SW Metro, there's a stark reality to a Minneapolis based ClassPass network -  trying a new studio out, more often than not, requires a drive of 45+ minutes one way.  And driving 45+ minutes one way, when you weight it with the fact that you might find a "broken kazoo" ... well ... 

Especially when going back to my studio recaps, you can see that I determined only 3 of the 7 studios I did try were worth revisiting: 

The Good - all of which I continued to attend
     Good & Twisted Yoga, Chaska
     CycleQuest Studio, Eden Prairie
     Studio TimeOut, Minneapolis

The Bad - not really "bad", so much as I never made an effort to go back
     Kula Yoga, Edina

The Ugly - ok, these are the really bad ones, and yeah ... I'd never go back
     The Shed, Minneapolis
     3X3 Fit!, Hopkins
     Jazzercise, Edina

Using the above information, then, you could derive that for a suburbanite like me, there's a 60% +/- chance of driving 1.5 hours total to try a studio that would be a "broken kazoo". 

That statistic alone makes it pretty tough to justify a $79/month membership. 

Let's put that 45 minute drive aside, though.  Because you might be saying at this point - so what?!  After trying out enough studios, why would anyone continue driving around, pulling new "ducks from the pond" anyway?!  Since you already know which studios in the "pond" award the giant stuffed unicorn, why not just focus on those studios and be done exploring?

And yes, I landed there.  By month two, I had mostly tried out all of the studios that were closest to me and worked with my personal schedule.  After doing so, I found there were only two studios near me that were worth attending on a regular basis, and I really just wanted to settle in there. 

So why would I still want to look at other studios in the ClassPass network and drive so far to try something new, particularly when I knew there were two studios nearby me that worked?  Well, let me remind you of one of the basic membership rules - ClassPass limits your attendance to any one studio at 3 visits per month. 

Of course, I understand this rule 100%.  After all, participating studios don't want to lose their base business to ClassPass, so this restriction discourages studio members from dumping their membership for the ClassPass network. 

But here's where this restriction is a problem: in the end, I was shelling out $79/month for the option to visit any ClassPass studio my little heart desired ... but realistically, I was only regularly attending the 2 studios that were closest to home. 

In comparison, if I bought a class package at each of those studios (and got a volume discount per class), the real value I was getting for my $79/month ClassPass membership was:

     Studio A - 3 classes x $10 each = $30
     Studio B - 3 classes x $12 each = $36
     $30 + $36 = $66.00

Wow ... $66 to take the 6 classes/month that I really liked when ClassPass charged me $79?! 

I was over paying by $13/month!  Not to mention, these wonderful local businesses weren't even getting all the dollars I was spending, since ClassPass obviously ends up taking a cut.

And that's when I realized - ClassPass seemed like a waste of money.  Not that I was wasting it in a truly bad way, mind you.  It was more like I was spending money I didn't really need to spend anymore. 

Knowing that, I decided I wanted to directly support the local studios who deserved my money for my attendance, instead of giving a cut to a large corporation who ran a website that scheduled me to attend a class there.  And that meant finally cutting the cord with ClassPass.


  1. The smartest move Soulcycle made was staying a Premium Service and saying no to classpass. I have run studios for years. Classpass does not work for studios. Your membership will leave you for classpass once members learn they are paying double what the others in your classes are paying. Your user base will be very angry at you. Incremental revenue is the fantasy that classpass is selling. It does not work out that way. Members abandon studios for classpass. Your loyal user base will not be happy to learn that they are paying $25 and you just sold classes to classpass at $10. You will become a $10 an hour studio and will compete with every other $10 studio around you on a per class basis for users. You will be owned by classpass.

    2 articles against Classpass in the New York Times:
    She would rather pay full price at SoulCycle than see the studio become even more crowded. “I’m like, ‘Please don’t join ClassPass,’ ” she said.
    (read the comments section)

    1. Thanks for your commentary! Though, I think maybe you didn't read my post above? The entire article is about how I QUIT ClassPass to join a studio. Well, technically, two studios. So ... while you're saying ClassPass encourages people to quit their studios, I'm a living, breathing example of the exact opposite.

      Specifically, as I mentioned above, I quit ClassPass because I didn't like being limited to 3 classes per month at the studios I wanted to frequent. And, I found I wasn't going anywhere else, despite having access to an entire network of options. Therefore, I dropped my ClassPass membership in favor of purchasing packages at the studios I frequented most during my time at ClassPass.

      Before you try to dispute my user pattern: I am not unique in this path. Most of the people I know who registered for ClassPass ended up trying it for a month (or two or three) and then dropping their membership. None of them, who were all truly gym regulars prior to joining ClassPass by the way, ever saw ClassPass as a long term replacement for their regular gym. Even the people I know in other cities, who still remain in ClassPass as active members, only see ClassPass as a supplement to their other physical regimens outside of their membership (IE running, swimming, etc).

      I’d also like to address the idea of regular students “paying double” that of ClassPass users – since I actually had that conversation with regular clientele at several studios. At the end of the day, that was a non-issue: when they realized I could only come to three classes a month, and often didn’t have access to the more popular classes … and then weighted that against the fact that they weren’t really paying a much different rate than me since they had purchased a prorated volume class package, their interest in ClassPass dropped severely.

      Don’t get me wrong - I'm not trying to say in the above that I condone ClassPass. And, I agree with you that it's not a great service, though maybe not for the same reasons as you state. I say this because being a certified group fitness instructor at two different studios, I’ve seen some very good come out of ClassPass – not only does it help fill empty slots in a class that otherwise wouldn’t be full, it also gets new people in to try a studio they maybe otherwise wouldn’t have. In fact, most of the places I went to during my membership I never even knew existed prior to ClassPass.

      And, I can say all of the above as a 100% unbiased user of ClassPass. I didn’t get a damn dime from them – instead, I got screwed by them several times over. First, I signed up just days before they did the first month reduced price promo. Then, just weeks later after I had several friends sign up, they did a referral bonus program. Both times ClassPass declined to reimburse me the cost differences … even though I had already written several blog posts singing the praises of their company.