ClassPass at 1-year mark
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.”
THE SERVICE, which charges a f lat rate, can be used at Whole Body Method.