The Pros and Cons of ClassPass (as a Member and an Instructor)

Pros & Cons of ClassPass

I have a love/hate relationship with ClassPass and have cancelled and rejoined about 10 times since it first came to Boston. I think what it comes down to is that I mostly dislike it but am not rich enough to ditch it for good.

The service has changed a million times since its inception (as most new companies do), and will probably be structured differently by the time this post is a few months old. As of today though, there are three membership options. In Boston, the pricing is as follows:

  • 3 classes/month for $40
  • 5 classes/month for $65
  • 10 classes/month for $120

You can go to any given studio 2-3 times a month, depending on your package. Some (not all!) studios will let you purchase additional classes through ClassPass if you want to go more than the 2-3 limit. If you live in Boston, most studios are on CP, with the exceptions of B/Spoke, SoulCycle, YogaWorks, Pure Barre’s Newbury location and SLT (and maybe a couple I’m forgetting).

Right now, my account is in a beta testing mode where instead of 10 classes, I have 80 credits to use on classes that range in 4-8 credits each (less popular times are fewer credits). So if I were to go to low-credit classes, I could take more than 10 classes a month (all the classes I like are 8 credits so it doesn’t make a difference for me). I’m not sure if this credit system will become permanent or not.

I took advantage of a limited time offer that gave me 20% off a 10-class membership if I stuck with it for six months. I’m nearing the end of my six months and think I’m going to cancel when it’s over and become a member at Everybody Fights. I’m really into boxing right now, and want to get better at it—something that’s not going to happen if I’m only going a few times a month. I used to enjoy ClassPass but have grown tired of it. Today, by request, I’m breaking down the good and bad for anyone considering the service.

Pros of ClassPass

It’s the most cost-effective way to take group fitness classes at multiple studios.

This is the big selling point. With ClassPass, you pay $12-13 a class if you use your membership to its fullest (in Boston), compared to the $25-30 price tag you’d pay to drop into a studio. Now if you were to buy a membership at a studio, that price per class would be lower, but probably not $12-13.

It’s good if you just moved to a new city or are traveling to another city.

ClassPass is a great way to test out lots of different studios to see where you like best. If you travel for work, you can also use your CP membership in most major cities throughout the country.

It’s good if you have a free gym at work or are an instructor who can work out for free somewhere and just want to supplement with a few different classes each month.

I think ClassPass is best suited for you if you’re looking to supplement an existing membership or at-home workout routine. For example, if you’re a runner and are just looking to cross-train a couple times a week, ClassPass could be a good option. I know a lot of other instructors choose to join ClassPass because they can already workout at their studios for free and are just looking to switch it up a couple times a week.

If this doesn’t describe your current situation, see the first bullet point below …

Cons of ClassPass

If you want to workout more than 2-3 times a week, you’ll need to supplement your ClassPass membership with at-home workouts or another gym/studio membership.

Back when there was an Unlimited option, ClassPass could completely replace your gym membership, allowing you to take a class every day of the month if you wanted to. Now it’s more of a supplemental thing because even with the new credit number system, you’re only going to be able to take 2-3 classes a week if you want to do popular classes. So yes, you save a bunch on group fitness with ClassPass, but if you want to work out more frequently, you’ll need to supplement.

You can purchase additional classes at some studios through ClassPass for a slight discount, or pay for an outside gym/studio membership. But unless you’re supplementing with running and at-home workouts, prepare to pay in addition to your core CP membership.

Some studios block off their most popular class times from ClassPass users.

This is one of the biggest downsides for me. Yes, I have a weird job and can technically work out at any time of day. In theory, I’m the perfect candidate for ClassPass because a 9 or 10am class can work with my schedule. But I hate working out then! It’s 6/7AM or bust in my book.

Most people work roughly 9 to 5 and accordingly, the most popular class times at fitness studios are typically 6/7AM and 5/6PM. So you’ll notice that some studios don’t open those times to ClassPass or severely limit the number of spots CP users can take. The studio has no problem filling these peak times with their clients, so it makes sense.

The bummer for me is that Barry’s (understandably) does this. I usually just end up buying classes directly through them in addition to my ClassPass membership so I can go early in the morning.

Some studios limit the number of ClassPass clients per class so you have to sign up for your favorite times a week in advance.

The allotted slots for ClassPass users can fill up fast at popular studios so you have to sign up right at 12 noon the week before the class in order to snag a spot. You can chance it and try to sign up last-minute, assuming someone will late-cancel the night before or day of, but I typically like to plan ahead for my workouts. Not a WEEK ahead though.

Variety is GREAT, but when you’re totally all over the place, you’re not going to see specific progress.

I’m a big proponent of switching up your workouts, but you can definitely spread yourself too thin. At my peak ClassPass usage when it was only $99 for UNLIMITED classes, I was all over the place with classes—yoga one day, bootcamp the next, barre, spin, boxing, pilates. It was fun to try new things for the first couple months but then I had the realization that I was just “meh” at a lot of things instead of really working to improve at the things I enjoyed most. Sure I was maintaining my fitness level just fine, but I wasn’t really seeing specific progress in any one modality. Of course not! You need to do something more than three times a month for that to happen.

You’ll want to go to your favorite studios more than three times a month.

At this point, I know what my favorite studios in Boston are and I just want to go to those. I currently only use my membership to go to Barry’s and EBF. Those studios are walking distance from my apartment and offer the workouts I’m currently loving the most. It’s more expensive, but it’s getting to the point where I’d rather just give my money directly to those studios and reap the benefits of being able to go whenever and how often I like.

You get charged $15-20 if you can’t make class.

If you cancel within 12 hours before the class starts, you’re charged $15. If you don’t late-cancel and just don’t show up, you’re charged $20. If you’re someone who has an unpredictable work schedule, this could add up quick. You could opt to book last-minute instead, but you run the risk of the class being full or maxed out with CP members.

If your first visit to a studio is through ClassPass, you’re not eligible for their new client specials.

This is more a #ProTip than a true “con.” If you’ve never visited a studio before, look at their new client specials. Often they’re even better than the savings you’re getting through ClassPass, or at least comparable. Buy directly from the studio, use those initial visits from them, and if you love it, you can always continue to go via ClassPass. At most studios though, if you initially go through ClassPass, you’re no longer eligible for any specials they have for newbies.

Thoughts on ClassPass as an Instructor

I’ve heard a lot of people say they feel a little bad/guilty or like a second-class citizen when they come to a studio on ClassPass because they’re not paying full price. I can’t speak for all instructors, but let me assure you that I do not think less of you as a client if you roll up to my class through CP. I get it—boutique fitness classes are expensive and there are just so many awesome studios out there. Yo, I’m a member, too! And I do genuinely love that by being on ClassPass, more people have access to this workout who might not have otherwise.

Like I mentioned earlier though, you’re not going to get the full benefits of the workout only coming two-three times a month. If you’re cool with that, so am I. I’d certainly rather you come a couple times a month than not at all! But if you’re feeling frustrated by lack of progress/results, don’t automatically discredit the method or your instructors. Now you also don’t need to come every day or five times a week, but if you commit to even just twice a week, you are going to see FAR better results than if you come just a couple times a month.

The whole anonymous review system on ClassPass is also not ideal for instructors. Feedback is important and I welcome both the good and bad because I truly care about teaching and want to constantly make my class better. Some of the “bad” reviews on ClassPass are constructive and helpful. Other reviews though … pretty sure the people leaving them would choose their words differently if they weren’t anonymous. And it’s especially frustrating because it’s impossible to have a fully formed opinion on a studio if you’ve only been to one class with one teacher. In my opinion, ClassPass users shouldn’t be prompted to leave a review until they’ve visited a studio three times.

The Bottom Line

ClassPass is a good supplement to your workout routine, especially if you have a flexible schedule. If you love multiple boutique fitness studios and are on a budget, it’s a great way to be able to visit them a couple times each month. If you’re new to a city or your city’s fitness offerings, it’s a fun way to test the waters before committing to the one or two studios you like best.

I really liked it at first, but have grown tired of the inconveniences. I don’t want to schlep across the city to a class because I’ve already used up my classes at the studios close to my apartment. I don’t want to work out in the middle of the day because it’s the only class time available at my favorite studio. I miss the feeling of having a home base for my workouts. I also want to focus on progressing at the types of fitness in which I’m most interested. For me, I think it’s worth spending some extra money to have access to a workout routine that truly excites me and works best with my schedule.

$40 off Your First Month

It’s kind of weird to end the post with this because I spent the last 2,000 words basically being like PEACE OUT, CLASSPASS. But it can be a great option depending on your situation. If you do want to give ClassPass a try, this referral link will get you $40 off your first month. They also do promotions frequently though so I’d check their homepage, too, just to double check the $40 off is currently the best deal.

Are you a ClassPass member? What your favorite and least favorite things about the service?

xo Nicole

 

My Recent Issues with Depression

Words for 2018We’ve made it to the final post of this series! If you’re just tuning in, I’d read the intro, part 1, part 2 and part 3 first (if you go to the intro, there’ll be links at the bottom of each post to jump you to the next section).

I got myself to a really good place after college, and while there were some dips to the rollercoaster ride, I was mentally and emotionally healthy for years following. There were hard times of course (that’s life!), but I was able to deal with sadness and stress in as healthy of a way as anyone would expect. Harkening back to the cloud analogy I made in a previous post, I could feel the rain from the cloud overhead without losing sight of the blue sky surrounding it.

My recent struggles with depression throughout most of 2017 weren’t a direct response to the world around me or a particularly bad event. That’s the thing with depression—it can start from the inside, regardless of your circumstances. I have a wonderful life! My job couldn’t be a better fit for me. I live in a city that I love, in a state that has always and will always be home. I have an amazing boyfriend, family and friends. My biggest struggle on any given day is finding ripe avocados at Roche Brothers (aka Mission: Impossible). I’m muthafukkin hashtag BLESSED.

Nonetheless, in early 2017, things started to slip.

It was a gradual decline, slowly shutting myself off from friends, avoiding social situations, making excuses, and losing the ability and motivation to focus on work (or anything). Soon I was back to that feeling of merely existing instead of participating in life. I could barely put together blog posts (you probably noticed things were pretty slow around here as far as content), and I felt completely stuck and stagnant. Basic everyday activities exhausted me, and some weeks I would pretty much only leave the apartment when I had to teach.

It was a pattern I recognized all too well (whaddup, college!), yet I allowed it to progress. I think I was partially in denial that this could happen to me again. But I’m so self-aware now! I have it all figured out!

I was convinced that I had all the tools I needed to turn this thing around, and every day it’d be a new strategy for starting fresh. I’m going to start journalling every day. I’ll write down three things I’m grateful for each morning. Tomorrow I’ll make a fixed planned for getting work done. Meditating will fix it.

None of it worked because I was doing the same damn thing I did in college: Keeping my struggles to myself.

I’ve always been a Type A perfectionist (although I’m lightyears more laid-back than I used to be). I’m also fiercely independent. I think the combination of the two makes me unwilling to accept that I need help from others—but we all do in life! The whole experience reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

After my experience in college, I knew that talking about what I was going through was helpful, but clearly I hadn’t fully accepted that. Talking about what I’m feeling and asking those I’m close to for help are like two muscles I should have been consistently training ever since college. Had I strengthened those proverbial muscles throughout the years, maybe 2017 wouldn’t have been so rough. But, not unlike many people do with their physical health, I waited until I was ill (injured) to address the weakness.

Side note: You have no idea how badly I wanted to put quotations around that above quote and end it with – Nicole Perry 😉

Much like in college, the real wake-up call and catalyst for change was acknowledging how my depression was affecting those I loved around me. I could tell Joe was frustrated and confused by my behavior but for months, I’d just try to skirt around the issue (“It’s just a funk, I’m sorry!” / “I’m just stressed about work, things will be better when this project is done!”). I was avoiding the real work I had to do (opening up and bringing my struggles into the light) and instead doing all this busy work while lying to myself that I was accomplishing something.

To reference another quote that I love (who am I today??): “The only way out is through.” – Robert Frost

The really challenging, scary thing you’re avoiding is often the thing you HAVE to do in order to grow and move forward. And the longer you avoid it, the bigger and scarier it gets.

Late this past fall, things came to a head with Joe and he got very upset and confronted me about my behavior. He wouldn’t let it go and kept at me, digging and pushing me to talk and cry. He was the perfect mix of tough love and compassion, forcing me to explain but also knowing when to just give me a hug and let me cry. It was EXACTLY what I needed, and I couldn’t love him more.

I’d compare that night to the first time I saw a psychiatrist after withdrawing from college. I just sorta blubbered in incomplete sentences but it was so cathartic! I felt like a whole new human afterwards! The one full sentence I did get out was, “I think I’m depressed.” To which Joe responded something to the effect of, “Yeah, no shit.” (LOL)

Since then, I’ve made a point to talk to Joe, my mom and my friends about the things inside me that are the hardest for me to communicate. I know that these are the things that need to be said the most. If the words stick in my throat and make me squirm, I’m on the right track. By bringing my feelings and internal battles out into the light, they’ve become a lot less scary and easier to manage.

Today, I’m out from that fog of depression. But I look back on last year and can’t help but feel sad about all that time lost—life is so short and precious, and I just spent a year sorta drifting through it. That motivates me to put in the work now and prioritize my mental health so that this doesn’t happen again or, if and when it does, I’m able to stop it from getting as bad.

Continuing to communicate how I’m feeling is a big part of that work. That has involved acknowledging that I still carry around some guilt and embarrassment with me from my college years and opening up about it with my college friends.

I also changed my health insurance this year and am in the process of finding a psychiatrist/psychologist I like. (Up until this year, I’ve always just bought the cheapest, worst plan that will prevent me from going bankrupt in the event of an accident, but pretty much offers nothing else.) I feel great now and honestly don’t know that I’ll have much to say to a doctor, especially since my mom makes for a really great therapist in her own way. But I also have *finally* learned that I need to put in the work when I feel good, too—not just when sick/injured.

__________________________

Damn. I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life but I could sure use one after writing this series (lol). I’ve wanted to share these experiences on the blog for a while now because mental health is just as important as physical health. I’ve hesitated to in the past though because I’d hate for you all reading my blog and following me on social media to look at me differently.

It’s not that I think you’d judge me or that I feel shame in admitting I’ve struggled with depression. It’s more that I would hate for you to take my humor differently or read into things I blog about the wrong way. If I make a self-deprecating joke, it’s not because I actually think ill of myself—that’s just my sense of humor. If I miss a week of blogging, it’s not because I’m depressed—I just suck at my job sometimes. People can be both depressed and funny. Both bipolar and successful. Both anxious and a good parent/friend/etc. No person fits nearly into one simple categorical box. Accordingly, mental illness and things we’d normally classify as positive traits are far from being mutually exclusive. In fact, I think that often our struggles are our strengths. My issues with depression have absolutely affected the person I am today, but I do not define myself solely by them.

Even though I know depression is a mental illness, I have a hard time thinking of myself as being mentally ill. I’ve seen *severe* mental illness up close, and for me, there’s really not even a comparison to what I’ve been through. But as I was writing this series, I noticed how undercurrents of shame and guilt wove consistently through all my tough times and even up to today. It seems a common theme among everyone I’ve talked to who has dealt with varying degrees of mental health issues. And I can say for certain those feelings are poisonous and the ultimate hindrances to forward progress.

Guilt and shame will persist until we’re able to humanize mental illness. And I think a big step towards doing that is to open the conversation and start whittling away at the stigma associated with it. I hope this blog series is a small contribution to that conversation.

Thanks for letting me share my story with you all—not that you really had a choice. 😉 Have a happy, healthy weekend and GO PATS!

xo Nicole

The (Ongoing and Ever-Evolving) Solutions to My Past Struggles with Depression & Body Image Issues

The (Ongoing and Ever-Evolving) Solutions to My Past Struggles with Depression & Body Image Issues

If you’re just tuning in to this series, first check out the INTRO, PART 1 & PART 2 before reading this post. Next week will be the final post, where I’ll talk more about my most recent depressive episode last year. That being said, when it’s over, if you have questions or there are topics I didn’t cover, please feel free to send them my way. I’m not a doctor or a mental health expert, but I’m happy to share more about my personal experiences.

So by now we’ve established that my emotional and mental state was a flaming dumpster fire. As I neared college graduation, that’s when a shift started to take place. It was no one thing, but I slowly started to make lots of changes that ultimately resulted in me getting back to feeling like my old self.

I realized that my issues were affecting those around me and I was going to lose my friends.

Throughout most of college I was always telling myself, “Tomorrow will be a fresh start,” “Next week I’ll snap out of my funk,” “Next semester will be my semester”—but I’d run out of tomorrows. There wasn’t going to be another semester. We were leaving our home together in Chapel Hill and moving to different parts of the country. I asked myself, “Would I want to remain friends with me?” and the answer was a wake-up call. No, I would not.

Doing it for someone other than myself was an important catalyst for change because I didn’t like myself very much at the time. Why would I want to better my life for my own benefit? I didn’t fully believe I was deserving of something better. When I accepted that my issues were affecting those around me, that’s when I was finally ready and willing to change.

I started talking about it.

I mentioned this in the first post as well, but I can’t overstate the importance of communicating. When you hold your struggles to yourself in secrecy and darkness, they fester and poison you from the inside out. But when you bring your demons out into the light, they don’t seem quite as scary. I started slowly being more vocal about my experiences with friends and family, and the more I opened up, the easier it got to talk about these things and they more manageable they became.

When I started talking more openly, I realized a lot of people had gone through something similar or known someone who had. I had felt so isolated all those years in college and so painfully different from everyone around me, when really that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Had I known there were so many others who could relate to what I was feeling, maybe I would have started talking about it sooner and it wouldn’t have gotten so bad.

When it came to food, I stopped trying to control everything—which ironically helped me regain control.

I don’t want to downplay the difficulty of healing an unhealthy relationship with food because I know for a lot of people, that wound never fully heals. I can say in full honestly though that for me today at age 30, it’s completely in the rearview mirror and has been for years. I enjoy healthy foods but I don’t feel a single twinge of guilt when I indulge in the not-so-healthy stuff. I do really love the whole experience of cooking, but thoughts of food don’t consume my mind by any means.

Being that obsessed with what I was eating in college was EXHAUSTING. That’s a big reason why you’ll never see me track calories or macros and also why I don’t put nutritional information on the recipes I share on this blog. I burnt myself out! I just don’t care about that shit anymore! Ingredients matter to me—the rest doesn’t. And I don’t mean to be harsh because we’re all different. Tracking those things can be beneficial for some people and if it works for you, I’m genuinely happy you’ve found your thing. For me personally, it takes all the joy and fun out of food.

That feeling of burnout was a big reason I was able to finally unshackle myself from the restricting-binging cycle. I just couldn’t live like that anymore and it ties back to that fear of losing my friends. I was sick of missing out on fun times with them and I wanted my social life back. Socializing and eating are so deeply intertwined that I knew I couldn’t regain the former without healing my habits with the latter.

The first time I was able to eat at a restaurant with my friends without binging was the big pivoting moment for me.

Going out to eat—something that should be a fun, enjoyable social experience—was mental torture for me in college. I’d reluctantly go, swearing to myself that I’d just order a salad and wouldn’t overeat. But my mind would start racing as soon as I’d open the menu (I’m just using random names FYI). Look at the salad section. Get the garden salad. What about the pastas. No don’t even look at that section! I could order the pasta and then only eat half and then that’d be ok if I don’t eat the leftovers. What if I order the salad and the pasta and eat the salad first so that I won’t be as hungry when I get to the pasta? I wonder what Mary is going to order. If she orders something unhealthy, then it’s ok for me to. Then the waitress would bring over the bread bowl. Don’t take a piece of bread. Well Beth just took a piece of bread. Ok take a piece of bread but only eat half.

I couldn’t even hear the conversation around me or enjoy anyone’s company because I was in such a panic over the whole thing. I’d inevitably cave under the ridiculous pressure I was putting on myself to eat “perfectly” and end up eating the entire bread bowl and getting a heavy, unhealthy entree and eating way passed the point of satiation until I felt sick and guilty.

The summer after graduation, I told myself that nothing would change unless I changed my behavior and thinking. So I asked myself how I could set myself up for success going out to a restaurant. I knew that once a dish was put in front of me, I’d eat it till completion even if it made me sick. So instead of trying to fight that tendency, I set a rule that I’d only order something off the menu that I could eat in its entirety without feeling guilty or over-full. It wasn’t easy that first time—I had a mini panic attack right before saying my order out loud to the waitress—but I got a summer salad with shrimp and nothing else, licked the plate clean, and felt satisfied but not stuffed. I was elated and so proud of myself. It *was* possible to go out to eat without binging!

Each time I went out to eat with friends, it got easier and easier to do the whole moderation thing. Order something healthy (but not restrictive), enjoy the meal without overdoing it, have a couple drinks, feel great afterwards. In fact, I started actually looking forward to group meals for the first time in years! Some of my fondest memories from that summer and following fall involve going out to boozy brunches and dinners with my college girlfriends living in Manhattan.

For the first few months, I did need to stick to that formula of finding something on the menu light enough that I could eat it in its entirety, but eventually I got to the point where I could order anything I liked and be fine with it. I learned to listen to my body, and even if the portion sizes were massive, I wouldn’t stress because I knew I’d just stop when I was full.

The gradual release of control was happening outside of restaurants, too. I stopped planning out my day’s meals ahead of time and trying to micromanage everything I put in my mouth. When I did that, I eliminated that feeling of failure I’d have when straying from the plan. Instead of violently oscillating between extremes of binging and restriction, I was finding peace in moderation. The more I stopped trying to control everything, the more control I ended up gaining. 

I became introspective.

In and after college, I felt a little directionless with my life, changing majors every five seconds and having absolutely no idea what career I wanted to pursue. I started questioning everything—what are my interests? What really makes me happy? Who even am I?! A big part of accepting that I had a problem and committing to getting a handle on it was to get to know myself better.

What just triggered that action? Why am I feeling this way? What would make me feel better?

I started looking inward and trying to understand the “why”s behind my actions, an ongoing project that will continue until my deathbed. In the years following college, this growing self-awareness helped me recognize when I was slipping back into old habits. (Clearly I’m not a pro seeing as I spent most of 2017 in a fog of depression, but we’ll get to that in next week’s post!)

I stopped taking birth control pills.

Once I accepted that my problems were being caused by something inside me—not the world around me—and I was ready to work on myself, I started researching anything I could find about depression online. Reading blogs and forums about other people’s similar experiences was comforting and motivating. In one particular thread, a girl wrote about how her depression was linked to taking birth control pills. There were HUNDREDS of comments in reply with other girls echoing her experience. I was shocked!

I had been on and off birth control pills from age 16 up to that point (22). At first because I wanted bigger boobs and clear skin in high school (eye roll) and then I’d go on it whenever I was in a relationship. After reading that thread, I went off the pill the next day. No exaggeration, within DAYS—maybe a week tops—I felt more clearheaded and rational. Now, was the placebo effect in play here? Did my expectations exaggerate my perceived results? Probably to an extent. But the number of other girls I’ve talked to in real life and online who have said that they were emotional wrecks while on the pill can’t be a coincidence.  

I want to be clear that being on birth control didn’t cause my problems, but I think it made it more difficult for me to manage my problems because my moods were so all over the place.

—————————

The positive changes snowballed. I was out of isolation and spending time with friends; I was getting to know myself and love myself again; and embracing moderation was becoming easier and easier. Life wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I was able to deal with hardships in an emotionally healthy way.

Before I end this post, I want to point out that, yes, I was able to turn things around without taking antidepressant medication, but I’m by no means suggesting that it can’t be beneficial or even life-saving. The bottom line is that everyone is different and you should talk with a professional about the best solution for you, should you be experiencing similar issues.

Last post of this series coming your way next week. Enjoy your weekend!

xo Nicole