Grazia meets the super-fit founder of ClassPass to learn more about her plans for global domination
WHEN PAYAL KADAKIA WAS SITTING at her office desk in New York City, frustratedly searching for a suitable dance class to attend on her lunch break, an idea hit her. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through different websites trying to find a class at the right time, in close proximity and taught by a reputable trainer, 27-year-old Payal mused on the possibility of building a one-stop destination platform for all these classes to be showcased in.
That was eight years ago, and now ClassPass is the leading membership to the world’s largest fitness network. “I have to pinch myself sometimes,” Payal admits to Grazia, while delicately sipping hot coffee in an upmarket Dubai hotel. “But I believe ClassPass tapped into a human behaviour change at the right time. People were craving this way of working out and this way of discovering fitness and staying active. On a human level, everyone wants to be curious and to discover. As kids we all do it – and we’re encouraged by our parents to be involved in as many activities
as possible – so why do we have to stop as adults? ClassPass is a playground for adults.”
Let’s backtrack to the moment that made it all happen: the desire to attend a dance class. Has she always been so dedicated to exercise? “I never considered myself a fitness person,” Payal replies. “I’m small, petite and thought I didn’t belong in the fitness world. I danced as a way of holding on to my Indian heritage, as I was born and raised in the States but my parents emigrated from India to America.”
“I was fighting to keep dance in my life, even with a full-time job. Many of my friends had given up on their loves, like sport and music, and I don’t believe in a life like that. So I thought to myself, what if I can build the technology that’s going to get everyone back into these amazing passions,” Payal continues.
ClassPass provides access to yoga, barre, martial arts, Pilates, boxing and indoor cycling classes. Which cities are next on the growing brand’s hit-list? “Asia has a lot more potential – we’ve just launched in Hong Kong and Bangkok – and Kuwait and Saudi are goals for us too.”
There can be little dispute that Payal is one inspirational lady.
Her advice for budding female entrepreneurs? “Be driven by purpose. I’m not driven by fame or money, I just believe in what
I’m doing. Start something you’re willing to go to the grave with, because it takes years. Fellow females should start something that could make a real change in the world.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
The app means staying active has never been easier
Payal has fallen in love with barre since launching ClassPass