This post is intended for people who are deciding between ClassPass and buying passes or memberships directly from studios/gyms, not for those who are deciding between group classes and individual workouts in general.
I’ve been using ClassPass for over a year. I use it in conjunction with some class packs bought directly from studios where that was the cheaper alternative (or that just aren’t available on the platform, e.g. Flying Fantastic). It’s got a few issues but overall I like it, and it’s allowed me to explore and discover new things. For example, I might never have tried calisthenics if that class at Blok didn’t one day about a year ago show up in the “recommended” section on the app.
I live in London, and I haven’t used it much elsewhere, so keep that in mind. But my guess is that most of the tips apply regardless of location, just change the currency appropriately. London has so many things on offer that it’s worth spending at least a little time exploring it. One of the advantages of ClassPass is that you can use it in any of the 50+ cities that offer it, which makes it very useful if you travel regularly.
ClassPass or Studio Memberships?
ClassPass is ideal if you don’t want to commit to a single studio. If you visit a studio more than 3 times a month on ClassPass, price will often go up dramatically. Not always – some classes only go up by a single credit or two, whereas others jump to double the price. So for my favourites, I do occasionally buy separate passes directly from the studio. If you only ever visit one or two different studios (at least once a week) and have no interest in trying new ones, ClassPass probably won’t work so well for you.
Studio loyalty can also bring you benefits that aren’t obvious and monetary. A lot of them are actually instructor loyalty benefits (i.e. you can replicate some of them by going to classes by the same teacher at different locations). For example, some studios (especially small or remote ones) have a real community, which makes it easier to make friends. Otherwise taking classes can be very impersonal – you never see faces more than once, and nobody notices if you’re there or not, or cares about your progress. This didn’t bother me at all in the first year or two (in fact it used to be my preference), but in the last year I’ve really noticed it, and saw what a difference it can make.
In an ideal world, there’d be a studio near where I work or live that offered all the things I like to do with my favourite instructors, but that’s just not the case anymore. That worked the first year I started exercising regularly, when I basically had no preferences and was a complete beginner. At the time I just had a monthly unlimited membership at Triyoga, which allowed me to explore a variety of yoga styles and instructors in one big studio. But then I got interested in aerials, and more recently calisthenics. After a few years of taking classes all over the place I’ve also become highly particular about who I train with and when. It’s impossible to find all of that in the same place near where I work or live. CaliFlow and Blok actually come the closest to perfection, but in both cases I’d still have to do aerials separately, and only Blok Shoreditch is in a location that’s really convenient for me.
Anyway, for now, I’ll stick to ClassPass, with a couple extras on top. This combination is the most money efficient for me and my very specific preferences. Optimizing it does require some scheduling and maintenance, which may be overkill for some.
Unfortunately the pricing for each studio varies a lot, so it’s hard to make a general rule. Some classes are crazy cheap on ClassPass, whereas others are inexplicably way more expensive.
The ClassPass pricing scheme is purposefully a bit complicated. They translate currency into credits, so you have to be careful around numbers – a class for 8 credits doesn’t cost £8, it’s ~£10, depending on your membership tier. I’ve written a more detailed explanation of how it works here.
In both cases going more frequently leads to better value. Higher ClassPass tiers have a better credit to £ ratio. Studios often have different types of memberships, either time-based (where annual unlimited subscription will be cheaper per class than monthly), class pack based (where a 20-pack of classes will be cheaper per class than a 10-pack), or some combination of the two (where a monthly 10-pack subscription will be cheaper than a monthly 5-pack one). Often they might have introductory, seasonal or time sensitive offers and deals too. Some have other benefits such as discounted workshops, food or equipment.
Other factors to consider include when you like to (or can) take classes. Most studios will have a consistent price for classes regardless of time of day, whereas ClassPass has much more dynamic pricing. Peak times (before work, lunchtime, or after work) will on average be significantly more expensive than off-peak ones. So it’s pretty common that off-peak is cheaper than the studio, but peak is more expensive.
To sum up, ClassPass is great if any of these apply to you:
a) don’t know what you like and want to try many new things
b) know that the studios you like are for some reason way cheaper on ClassPass (often the case for small ones)
c) travel a lot (to cities that have it)
d) can go to sessions at off-peak times, or are otherwise flexible about locations and classes
However, avoid it if:
a) know you like one or two studios and go there often, and aren’t interested in trying new ones
b) have a tendency to miss classes you’ve booked and forget to cancel in time (you’ll pay a lot in fees)
c) don’t like group exercise classes, don’t have many offerings in your area, or otherwise wouldn’t get much out of it.
If you want to try ClassPass, feel free to go through my link, which would give both you and me £40 off.