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We Tried A Gym Membership For People With Commitment Issues
It's almost January, which means the inspired masses will be crowding the gyms in an attempt to keep America's most popular resolution: get in shape. For those of you who want to get fit but are afraid of commitment, there's a new way to work out. Instead of paying a monthly fee to just one gym or studio, ClassPass allows its subscribers to book different kinds of classes at studios all over the city. ClassPass offered the chance for two LAist staffers (Juliet and Emma) for a month to see how it worked and how we liked it.How It Works
Members pay $99/month to take unlimited classes within the ClassPass network. You have the option to visit the same facility up to three times in a month. Once you purchase subscription, it will automatically renew each month until you cancel, but there is no contract or time-commitment required. Aside from that limit, how much you use your membership is up to you. You'll be able to view classes by date and time, and you can view studios on a map. All the basics are there: yoga, pilates, spin, barre, cardio, dance and weight training—plus some fun and weird stuff like pole dancing and classes in a sandbox. A lot of these classes individually cost somewhere in the realm of $15 (or more), so if you go to about 2 classes a week, you're definitely getting your money's worth. You will have to sign separate waivers for all the new gyms you try, so remember to show up a little early to do all the paperwork.
Reserving and cancelling
This was a little tricky. If you're the kind of person who has a good sense of what your schedule is going to be like more than a day in advance, this will probably work out for you. But if you are the stereotypically flaky Angeleno, the kind of person who doesn't know whether you will be able to get out of work at 5 p.m. sharp or whether on Saturday morning you'll be hungover or in dire need of a wake-up workout, then it might be trickier. Several classes required a reservation 24 hours in advance (though some require as little as 2 hours). And because they were a little bit far (see: Geography), we weren't able to hit up all the classes we would have liked. Reserving is tough, but canceling is expensive. You can expect to pay $20 cancellation fees for any class you miss if you fail to give at least 24 hours notice. It's understandable you'd want to punish flakes, but this fee was too steep for us and was a big barrier to us wanting to continue with the membership.
Some neighborhoods have a greater ClassPass presence than others, though they've greatly expanded their selections since their launch in June and haven't ever stopped growing. Higher concentrations of studios exist in West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Brentwood. The people we know who have given it a try and loved it were mostly Westsiders. There are studios scattered throughout the Valley, but only a few in Silver Lake, Los Feliz and downtown, and none in Koreatown or Westlake. The Northeast could use more options, too. Finding classes at convenient times and places was tough for the LAist staffers who both live east of La Brea. You can see a map of all available options here. Class Pass intends to keep expanding, so if you don't think it's a good value for you now, check back frequently or send them a note to see if they're adding studios in your neighborhood.
Some of the classes we tried
We tried Flywheel in West Hollywood, an energetic spin class that was harder than we thought it'd be. We'd previously tried spin classes at our respective gyms, and this class was fun, upbeat and encouraging. The instructor here really made the class. Flywheel is one of several spin studios to appear on the list and has multiple locations; however, the three classes/month limit is stretched to all of a studio's outlets.
We also gave a brand new studio a shot: Air Fitness in WeHo. This class was a lot of fun as it combined yoga with aerial silks for an unique, yet challenging experience. We weren't the only ones in the class who had never tried aerial yoga before, and our instructor was extremely thoughtful when it came to helping everyone get the positions figured out.
Sandbox Fitness in Sherman Oaks wins points for being a gimmicky workout that actually delivered. We did a lot of the same kinds of exercises you do in a lot of fitness classes these days. We planked, downward dogged and rowed, but we did it all in a sandbox, on a wiggly surfboard and using cords suspended from the ceiling. The class we attended only had one other person in the class, so we got a lot of attention from the instructor, who was very polite when we fell off the board and swore it happened to everyone.
We tried out Pink Iron in West Hollywood, which is essentially a CrossFit gym for ladies (though it doesn't call itself that). It was kind of nice, actually: yes, the gym is all pink, there are inspirational quotes on the board and before class began we shared our achievements of the week that didn't necessarily involve the gym. But then we did a workout that would be brutal for any gender: it involved sprinting, pressing free weights, box-jumping and lots of push-ups and sit-ups. (There are other CrossFit gyms for all genders on the list if you want to give it a try: our old gym Strength RX CrossFit in East Hollywood is a part of ClassPass.)
We had tried PopPhysique before and hated it, but the Highland Park location didn't require a 20+ minute drive through rush hour traffic, so we thought we'd give it another try. It still wasn't our thing. We found the mix of ballet and Pilates just kind of tedious and the lack of help from the instructor on the tough moves frustrating. But the chain has been rapidly expanding since we first tried it, so clearly it's someone's cup of tea.
We were both intrigued by the premise but in the end, neither of us felt like it was worth continuing because there weren't quite enough options in our neighborhoods for it to be worth the money. Neither of us felt like we would get our money's worth because it was so much work trying to find a class that worked with our schedule and didn't require too much driving. The whole $20 cancellation fee scared us off, too.
The idea is a solid one, though, and we're holding out hope that they'll expand around us. The great thing about ClassPass is that it prevents you from getting stuck in the same old routine at your gym. It is ideal for people who live and/or work in neighborhoods with a decent amount of options, and for those with a flexible or consistent enough schedule select and stick to classes. It's also a great way to shop around for a new gym—who hasn't bought a month at a gym on Groupon only to use it once before getting bored? Since there are no contracts or cancellation fees, the curious don't stand much to lose by trying it out for a month and seeing if it proves more valuable for you than a traditional gym membership.
LAist writer Emma Gallegos contributed to this post