ClassPass at 1-year mark

Los Angeles Times - - MIND & BODY - By Anna Scott health@la­times.com

ClassPass, the startup that al­lows mem­bers to drop in on var­i­ous work­out stu­dios for a f lat monthly fee, hits its first an­niver­sary in Los An­ge­les this month, and in that time it has man­aged to stamp a big foot­print on the city’s fit­ness scene.

About 400 stu­dios have signed up with the ser­vice, re­sult­ing in about 350,000 class reser­va­tions. For some stu­dios, it’s been a boon; for oth­ers, not so much.

“They came to us when they were launch­ing in the area, and what they pro­posed made sense to us at the time,” said Sherri Rosen, vice pres­i­dent of YAS Fit­ness Cen­ters, a chain of yoga-and-Spin­ning stu­dios where sin­gle classes cost $22. While ClassPass has brought new stu­dents in, she said, some YAS reg­u­lars have also swapped out full-price pur­chases for cheaper ClassPass mem­ber­ships.

It’s easy to see the ap­peal of ClassPass for fit­ness en­thu­si­asts crav­ing va­ri­ety: $99 a month for ac­cess to par­tic­i­pat­ing stu­dios, which can add up to huge sav­ings. For ex­am­ple, the small stu­dio FitMix, near the cor­ner of Mel­rose and La Brea av­enues, typ­i­cally charges $35 for a sin­gle class com­bin­ing Pi­lates and tread­mill work.

FitMix co-owner Brian Tuthill wouldn’t dis­close ex­actly how much less he nets from ClassPass stu­dents ver­sus full-pay­ing ones. But “it doesn’t make or break us” to be signed up with the ser­vice, he said.

They key to mak­ing it work, said Tuthill, is ClassPass’ f lex­i­bil­ity in how stu­dios ad­min­is­ter the pro­gram. Own­ers choose which classes to open to ClassPass hold­ers. Usu­ally they are the odd-hours, less popular ses­sions, and at FitMix, the 60 weekly classes are capped at 10 stu­dents, so Class- Pass num­bers are small.

“It fills our cracks. It’s gravy,” said Tuthill. “Some­times ClassPass peo­ple say, ‘We can’t get into your classes!’ But that’s a good thing.”

ClassPass it­self also lim­its vis­its to any one stu­dio to three times a month.

Be­cause of th­ese and other in­no­va­tions, ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia says, the ser­vice helps stu­dios to grow. “Eighty per­cent of our users were never bou­tique fit­ness users be­fore,” said Kadakia.

Last year, ClassPass paid out $30 mil­lion to its stu­dios world­wide, she said, and this year she ex­pects to pay more than $100 mil­lion.

As for how much in­di­vid­ual stu­dios take in, Kadakia said it’s “a pre-ne­go­ti­ated rate that varies from stu­dio to stu­dio” but wouldn’t spec­ify fur­ther.

Audra Skaates, owner of the Main Barre in down­town L.A., a stu­dio of­fer­ing bal­letin­spired work­outs, says she earns about half the regular rate of $20 per ses­sion from ClassPass clients.

Some stu­dio own­ers are whole­heart­edly pos­i­tive.

Nigel Samp­son co-owns the Pi­lates stu­dio Whole Body Method, which has lo­ca­tions in Echo Park and mid­c­ity and charges $33 for a sin­gle class. ClassPass, he said, has in­tro­duced the stu­dio to a new crowd. “We’ve def­i­nitely seen a lot of peo­ple dis­cover our stu­dio. The word of mouth out­weighs one per­son buy­ing a class pack.”

Be­sides, Samp­son said, there’s no es­cap­ing that tech­nol­ogy is trans­form­ing the fit­ness in­dus­try, from low-cost apps and web­sites that bring work­outs to your living room to new meth­ods of mar­ket­ing. “You’ve got to join it,” he said, “but on your terms.”

Shane O’Don­nell Pho­tog ra­phy

THE SER­VICE, which charges a f lat rate, can be used at Whole Body Method.

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