Today I have my first ever guest post on PB&J! And of course I had to have it come from not just a fellow blogger, but one of my newest friends Gabby! She is currently the brain behind the blogs Miss-Unmatched where she discusses relationships, dating and life and Beauty Babble where she reviews the latest and greatest in toxin-free skincare. Recently she has tried out Classpass in Philadelphia so I asked her (read: begged) her to come and share her experiences.
Two months ago, I was a total couch potato. I blamed it on a lot of things: having a 2-hour commute that stripped me of my energy, having dogs that gave me guilty puppy eyes when I tried to leave them…. I even went so far as to convincing myself that I could eat whatever I wanted, not work out and retain my figure (despite the fact that my most recent doctor’s appointment presented a new personal record on the scale).
Then one day around the 4th of July, I had a revelation. I felt horrible. I certainly did feel tired a lot, and the few times I dragged my lazy bones out of bed to a workout class, I was winded within minutes and sore for two days after as my muscles tried to discern what strange form of torture I had put them through. I knew that for my own personal well being, I needed to force myself to make a change, even if exercising wasn’t something I typically equated with “fun.”
I had heard about ClassPass – a subscription service that gives you access to unlimited group fitness classes for a flat monthly fee – from my friend Olivia who had joined a few months earlier, but I’d never really considered signing up, mostly due to the excuses above and another one I’ll add to the pile: I can be kind of cheap. Sure, I’ll drop $35 for a meal and margarita at El Vez, but ask me to spend $80 a month on fitness classes and I’m like…what you talkin’ bout, Willis?
Nevertheless, my curiosity was piqued as I considered the many ways I might whip myself into shape, so I joined their email list and peeked around at the studios and policies, weighing whether this might be an option to try.
Lo and behold when I didn’t pull the trigger, a few days later I got a miraculous email: ClassPass Sale – ONE DAY ONLY! The offer involved signing up for two months up front, and in exchange they’d cut the monthly fee to $60 a month for those two months (after that point you automatically roll over into the standard $80/month membership if you decide to keep the service).
Fortunately for companies (and unfortunately for my wallet), I tend to fall hard for these “one day only” sale promises, so without doing a lot of thinking, I grabbed my credit card, signed up…and then realized the weight of the commitment I had just made.
So how exactly does ClassPass work, you might ask? It’s actually pretty simple. They’ve got a streamlined web interface with a fun mobile app that you can use to search and sign up for classes. Both methods allow you to search by activity (like barre, cycling, dance, pilates, etc.), location (not only by county by also by neighborhood), start time and even studio amenities (like showers or lockers). It then populates all the possible classes that fit your parameters, and all you’ve got to do is hit “reserve class” and the spot is yours! For most studios you can book up to a week in advance (although some studios, like Flywheel, have separate policies). You can take unlimited classes per month – quite literally you could workout all day, every day if you wanted – with the only limitation being that you can’t attend a class at the same studio more than three times a month. This might sound limiting at first, but it’s actually pushed me to get outside of my comfort zone and try studios, locations or class types that I probably would have avoided otherwise.
In my first month using ClassPass, I attended 12 classes, making each of them a whopping $5 a piece with my $60 reduced rate. I used up my three visits to Flywheel (which more than paid for my membership, given their classes are usually $25 a pop), went to Zumba twice, tried three varieties of Barre classes, went to Lithe Method, discovered a delicious stretch yoga class and even did the Philly Boss Chick Dance Workout (which was a disaster, but more on that in a moment).
We’re now in my second month of the membership, and despite having 10 days left in my cycle, I’ve already completed 13 classes (including some new stuff like aerial yoga), meaning this month, I’ll likely hit 15-20 classes total, hence paying about $3 per class.
Of course, I get that my newly discovered rigor for fitness is a bit on the extreme side and most people probably won’t go quite as often, but if you do the math and figure that you attend even two classes a week, you’ll end up paying about $10 per class, which is significantly less than the individual studios charge. Memberships can be canceled at any time, so you’re never locked into a contract if you change your mind or realize there aren’t enough studios or classes in your area that you enjoy.
I will say there are a couple of additional downsides you should be aware of before you sign up. Firstly, there is a 12-hour cancellation policy, and if you need to cancel with less notice, there’s a $15 cancellation fee. Forget to cancel altogether and miss a class? The fee jumps to $20. So if you’re not great to sticking to schedules or can’t remember to cancel, your membership can balloon to an astronomical cost very quickly. Now typically, I’m pretty good about staying on top of this stuff, but even then I recognize that with a 12-hour cancellation policy, if I sign up for a 6:30pm class and wake up at 7am that morning with the flu, I’m already within my 12-hour window and $15 will be leaving my pocket as a result.
One more thing: not all classes at every studio are listed on ClassPass. Example? My sorority alumnae group was putting together a group ride at Flywheel for a 10:30 Saturday morning class, and I jumped on the app the minute that Fly classes open, only to see it wasn’t listed. I could register for the 9:30 class or the 11:30 class, and despite seeing on Flywheel’s own website that there were plenty of spots available, it just wasn’t open for ClassPass members. (Also, when you sign up for a Flywheel class through ClassPass, they select a bike for you, and the Flywheel staff can’t change it…bummer.)
In spite of this, I really can’t rave enough about the service and have officially drunk the Kool-Aid. ClassPass has opened the doors of fitness to me in a major way, as it’s felt like classes were free, so there was no risk in trying something new. Knowing that I wanted to get my money’s worth, I’ve worked out more in the last two months than I ever have before, and now that it’s become routine for me, I actually feel bad on days that I’m not sweating. I’m even starting to notice that I’m feeling stronger and more energized when I’m working out, which continues to propel me forward. It’s incredible to look back a few months and remember that I was so focused on finding excuses, rather than finding a way.
Before I go, here’s a quick summary of the best – and worst – classes that I’ve gone to in the last 6 weeks:
Kaya Aerial Yoga – Old City – Foundations of Aerial Yoga Intro Class
This introductory class is required at the studio before you can take any other classes, and for good reason: you’re literally hanging, oftentimes upside down, from silks suspended from the ceiling. You sure as hell better know how to get in and out of them before trying anything crazy. Our instructor, Sara, taught us the basics in this hour session, including how to do some fun flips and an upside down, suspended shoulder stand. I felt like an aerialist in the circus and even though there was very little yoga involved, had a ton of fun.
Intro classes cost $15, then $20 for open level classes
Philly Power Yoga & Thrive Pilates – Rittenhouse – Yoga Stretch And Restore
This class, which is taught on Sunday evenings at 6:30 by a lovely woman named Colleen, is the absolute best way to unwind after the weekend and prepare for the week ahead. The croony, folksy music, combined with the dimly lit, intimate studio really sets the mood, and Colleen’s soothing voice and subtle sharing of stories aids in getting you to your personal place of zen. In the class, you’ll hold a variety of yoga poses for 3-5 minutes (sounds like a lot, but it’s really not a struggle in most poses) aimed at stretching and lengthening – no sweating here. You’ll leave feeling like Gumby and ready to tackle anything that Monday throws your way.
Single classes cost $18 or $16 for students
Philly Boss Chick Dance Workout – Fairmount
After looking this one up on the website, I was pumped thinking I was about to take a high-energy hip-hop class with an awesome instructor and the latest music. Instead, I got a crappy instructor who didn’t know how to smile, couldn’t stay on the beat and spent most of her time flailing about rather than instructing, all in a run-down studio space with no air conditioning. In August. Apparently they offer Groupons of class packages for this, and now I see why. Just don’t.
Single classes cost $13
Lithe Method – Rittenhouse – Split
I’m listing this individual class as a worst, although I fully intend to return to Lithe and give it another shot. The problem here is that apparently Split isn’t actually intended to be a beginner class, yet ClassPass doesn’t denote this, so anyone can sign up. Although there was another “new Lither” in the class with me, I felt really out of my comfort zone when the instructor Jamie, without notice, launched into a rapid-fire choreography series during which she wandered the studio space rather than staying up front so us newbies could follow along. They also do this weird breathing thing where ever few seconds they blow out their breath with a VERY loud “SHHHH,” which distracted me horribly. If you’re going to try Lithe, reach out to them first and get a recommendation on good beginner classes to save yourself some embarrassment!
Single classes cost $22
- Do you use Classpass?
- Do you prefer classes or working out solo?