ClassPass is a boutique fitness membership service allowing you to attend a variety of gyms and studios in an ever-expanding network of cities around the world. As ClassPass continues to grow in popularity, reviews from members are coming in mixed. After trying the service for two months myself, I can understand the mixed reception and am offering my own ClassPass review to help others to decide whether they’ll find value in using ClassPass.

But First, How ClassPass Works…

You pay a monthly membership fee to attend fitness classes within the ClassPass partner network of independent gyms and studios in a city of your choice. Currently, ClassPass has parters in nearly 40 cities globally.

When I originally joined ClassPass, members could take an unlimited number of fitness classes in any given month with the only limitation being you were not permitted to attend more than 3 classes at the same gym or studio each month.

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ClassPass now offers Base, Core, and Unlimited plans. With a Base plan you are limited to 5 classes per month. With a Core plan you are limited to 10 classes per month. The Unlimited plan gives you unlimited access to classes.

Across all of the plans, you are still limited on the number of times you can attend the same gym or studio, even if the gym or studio has multiple locations. Depending upon the plan and city, you are limited to either 3 or 4 attendances in any given month.

Not all plans are offered in every city and the membership fee varies depending upon the city too. In Kansas City the Base plan will run you $45 per month, whereas, in San Francisco you’ll pay $65 per month. In San Diego the base plan is $95 per month, whereas, in Boston it’ll cost you $120 per month. The Unlimited plan in a handful of cities like Tampa is only $79 but tops out at $175 per month in more expensive cities.

You can also participate in ClassPass Flex, where your membership will allow you to take classes in any city where ClassPass is offered. So if you’re on vacation or traveling for work, you can continue your workouts. This is a really great feature! Participation in ClassPass Flex is complementary, but if you start taking more than 50% of your classes outside of your home city in a two-month period, ClassPass will switch your membership to the city where you’ve been taking the majority of classes. So don’t think you can get away with paying St. Louis rates in New York City – at least not for very long.

Overall ClassPass Review

My personal take on ClassPass after trying it for two months is, you want to love the service because of the potential value it can provide, but it’s just not for everyone, including me as I found out.

The goal I had when I joined ClassPass was to diversify my workouts. I’m an avid trail runner and I do my strength training at a 24 Hour Fitness. I wanted to try some yoga and spinning classes as well as attend some CrossFit classes.

At face value, ClassPass seemed like a no-brainer to be able to take some of these classes. I could pay around $40 per class on an individual basis, or I could sign-up for ClassPass for $99 per month (at the time) and take an unlimited number of classes. It wasn’t a hard decision to give the service a try.

But after two months, what I ended up discovering was it was hard for me to extract enough value to make continuing with ClassPass worthwhile. Some of the fault was mine. I found it difficult to break with my routine and substitute for some of the ClassPass offerings. I also found it hard to find the time to continue with my routine and add in some of ClassPass offerings. But, ClassPass didn’t always make it easy…

ClassPass Gyms and Studios

In Los Angeles where I lived, ClassPass offers a decent selection of gyms and studios to attend. Generally though, most of the class offerings are geared toward cardio and flexibility. If you enjoy yoga, spinning, pilates, and cardio barre, you’ll love what ClassPass has to offer. Unfortunately, there are not a lot geared towards strength training. There are some CrossFit gyms, but they appear to be a rare breed on ClassPass. Plus, while it may appear there are a reasonable number of gyms and studios offered in your city, you have to ask yourself how far you’re willing to travel out of your neighborhood to attend these other facilities when you factor in time and traffic constraints. This proved to be a big hurdle for me in trying to attend classes at any CrossFit gyms, for example.

Expect Crowded Workout Classes

One of the most voiced complaints about ClassPass from members and non-members alike are more crowded classes. The classes I attended were completely full. Of course, the value proposition for studio owners to participate in ClassPass in the first place is to enroll more people in their classes, so it would make sense that the classes would be crowded. But, if you’re not a fan of crowded fitness classes, ClassPass may not be for you.

At more popular gyms and studios, you may find it hard to even book the classes you want. Class sizes are capped and there are only a handful of openings dedicated to ClassPass members. In some cities, avid members make sure they’re available on Sundays at noon when class schedules for the next week are released because popular classes fill up almost immediately. If you’re not as committed or not sure of your schedule for the week, you won’t be able to register for these classes.

Expect To Workout At Peak Times

One of the benefits of having a flexible schedule like I have is you can plan your workouts around avoiding peak times. Unfortunately, most gyms and studios only offer classes during peak times — in the morning before people head to work and in the evening after work. So with ClassPass, you won’t find many classes offered in the middle of the day. Personally, I found it hard to adjust my routine. The timing of the classes also prevented me from being able to venture to a CrossFit gym because there were none offered on ClassPass in my neighborhood and I didn’t want to spend an hour braving rush hour traffic in Los Angeles just to go to the gym.

ClassPass Disappoints With Fees

Newsflash: people hate to pay fees for services they don’t use.

Some ClassPass users have expressed disappointment with the class cancellation policy. Since introducing the new membership types, the ClassPass cancellation policy has changed slightly too. ClassPass now has different cancellation policies based upon the type of membership you have. Here’s a breakdown, although you should look for the most current policy on their website:

Basic: You’re not penalized if you cancel the class more than 12 hours before the class time. If you cancel within 12 hours of the class, you’re not charged a fee but the class will still count as one of the 5 classes you’re allotted. If you forget to cancel all together, you lose the class and you’re charged a $5 fee.

Core: You’re not penalized if you cancel the class more than 12 hours before the class time. If you cancel within 12 hours of the class, you’re charged a $15 fee and the class will count as one of your visits to that gym or studio, but you won’t lose one of the 10 classes you’re allotted. If you forget to cancel, you’re charged a $20 fee and the class will count as one of your visits to that gym or studio.

Unlimited: You’re not penalized if you cancel the class more than 12 hours before the class time. If you cancel within 12 hours of the class, you’re charged a $15 fee and the class will count as one of your visits to that gym or studio. If you forget to cancel, you’re charged a $20 fee and the class will count as one of your visits to that gym or studio.

For the most part, the cancellation policy makes sense. It deters people from taking up spaces by over-booking classes they’re not going to attend. Plus, it wouldn’t be fair to studio owners and gym owners to lose out on the money they could have earned had they been able to re-book the spot. Of course if something comes up at work or in your personal life at the last minute and you can’t make a class, you’re probably not going to be very happy when you see the fee appear on your credit card statement.

I have a bigger gripe with the other fees ClassPass charges. For example, with the innovation ClassPass has brought to the industry, one would have hoped it would have abandoned the “hold” and “reactivation” fees ubiquitous in the fitness industry. They’re bad for customers. They’re also bad for business.

ClassPass charges $19 per month to hold your membership. I would bet the maximum people would be willing to pay to hold a gym membership would be for one month. Any longer and they’ll cancel. Then, if you charge a reactivation fee, you can kiss that customer goodbye for good. If at some point the customer decides they want a gym membership again, they’ll go somewhere else rather than pay a reactivation fee.

I may have decided to give ClassPass another go at some point in the future, but with a $79 reactivation fee, it won’t happen. To rejoin ClassPass, I would have to pay the $79 reactivation fee plus the $65 membership fee for a total of $144 in my first month. That’s only for a Basic plan. If I wanted to attend unlimited classes like I could before, it would be $254! That’s a high price to pay for a service I’ve already left once. I find the reactivation fee to essentially say, “Don’t come back.”

Months after writing this review, I received an August 2016 promotional email offering 50% off the first month and waiving the $79 reactivation fee to restart our membership. So, ClassPass appears to be testing the waters with adjusting their strategy on fees too (good for them!)

Because seriously, what’s the point in charging these fees? To earn $19? Or $38 if someone misses two months? Or $57 if someone misses three months? Let’s suppose someone didn’t use the service for three months but then returned and used the service for one month, you’d still make more money from the one month membership fee they actually paid than if you were to charge them for the three months they missed. Plus, as I said earlier, I highly doubt anyone would pay the $19 to hold their membership fee for any longer than one month in the first place.

From a customer service angle and a financial angle, it would be a win/win for ClassPass to allow members to turn the service on and off as they see fit. Be bold, ClassPass. Lose the annoying fitness industry fees.

The Bottom Line On ClassPass

ClassPass offers excellent value for those able to take advantage of it. If you’re able to find a fair share of studios or gyms in your area offering a number of the types of classes you’re committed to taking regularly and your schedule is predictable on a day-to-day basis, ClassPass has the potential to be of enormous value to you. But, if you’re more like me and pretty committed to a routine already or can never seem to take advantage of the class offerings, then ClassPass will always be the service you want to love but never can commit to.

Alternatives To ClassPass

If ClassPass doesn’t seem right for you, there’s always 24 Hour Fitness, home programs from Beach Body like P90X or Insanity, TRX, or plenty of boutique fitness studios to try.

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