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

 

Why I’m Going Plant-Based

Why I'm Going Plant-BasedA few months ago, I wrote a post about how I’ve been *slowly* transitioning towards a plant-based diet. (In that post I talk about the judgement I often feel in doing so—if you’re interested in reading it, click here.) In that post I didn’t dive into why I’m going plant-based, so that’s where we’re going today. It’s happening EXTREMELY gradually, with the process starting years ago and animal products slowly dropping from my diet as they stop being appetizing to me.

I suppose it’s a little odd to write this post now because as of last week, I was still eating eggs and occasionally fish. I never put any pressure on myself to eliminate things from my diet, and it’s just happened naturally. Last week, for whatever reason, I was ready to part with eggs and fish. I sat down to eat avocado toast with a runny fried egg on top and just thought, “You know what? Eating eggs no longer serves me.” Maybe this post is a bit premature, but I feel myself continually being drawn towards a 100% plant-based diet and know in my gut that whether it’s now, or I eat scrambled eggs tomorrow and it doesn’t happen for another month, I’ll eventually be there.

I’m not a dietitian or nutritionist and therefore not qualified to give specific dietary guidance. That being said, this is a health and fitness blog, and even if I’m just sharing my personal experience with these things, I know that many readers take it as advice. For this reason, it’s really important to me that I emphasize that I do NOT think a vegan diet is necessarily the healthiest diet for everyone. We are all different, and there is no one-size-fits-all way to eat. I think plants should make up the bulk of each meal, but I also believe high-quality animal products can be part of a healthy diet.

As with all things health and fitness, you need to find what works for your body. You need to tune into what makes you feel your best, notice what foods don’t agree with you, and get better at listening to your body and getting to know yourself.

For that reason, you’ll notice that “health” is missing from the list below of reasons why I’m going plant-based. Do I feel great eating this way? Yes! But would I also feel great eating mostly plants and occasionally eating animal products? Yeah, probably! I flat-out don’t like meat, but if it weren’t for the moral and environmental conflicts I have with it, I’d probably continue to eat fish and eggs.

Because this transition to a plant-based diet has been so gradual, I honestly can’t tell you I’ve noticed much of a difference in my overall health as I’ve eliminated animal products. I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never had any major chronic physical issues in my life. My skin is better without dairy and I don’t experience bloating as often as I used to, but other than that, I don’t have miraculous tales of physical improvement to share with you all.

What I can say is that eating plant-based just feels right for me. Emotionally, morally, physically—it works. I feel so good about it and the direction I’m moving in, and all signs point to this being the right fit for me. I see going plant-based as one component of a larger shift towards a more mindful lifestyle. How are my choices affecting the world around me?

Why I’m Going Plant-Based

When I started cooking for myself, meat became increasingly unappetizing.

When a steak comes cooked, beautifully prepared and served to you on a dish, you’re getting an end product that’s far removed from the state in which it started. Meat was never my favorite food growing up (I was a pasta kid), but I would regularly eat it. We had venison a lot, chicken dishes, the occasional pork tenderloin. But my mom did all the cooking and I just saw and ate the finished product.

When I stared to cook for myself in my 20s, meat became a lot less appetizing. The smell. The slime. The blood. The globs of fat hanging off the chicken like boogers. The texture of that raw chunk of meat as you cut it up. It all totally grossed me out! At first I just stopped cooking it but would eat it on occasion at restaurants, but eventually I couldn’t separate the raw, slimy cut of meat from the cooked dish. I don’t have this reaction to fish and shellfish—probably because I’m accustomed to eating them in their raw form anyway.

The older I get, the more I love animals and feel morally conflicted in eating them.

You guys. The whole “biological clock ticking” saying is TOO REAL. As I approach 30, I’ve found that I just fall apart at the seams with emotion when it comes to babies and animals. And oh man don’t even get me started on baby animals. My hobbies these days include watching @thedodo videos and sobbing—it’s getting out of control. BTW this is not me dropping hints that I’m going to have a human baby any time soon, but I should probably adopt a dog like yesterday (lollol). Anyway …

The morality of eating animals is a complicated topic to breach. There are a lot of layers to it, but I want to start out by emphasizing that I don’t see people who eat meat as morally corrupt animal-haters. I have a couple items in my closet made from leather, I have a cow hide rug in my apartment—I’m really not one to talk! I’m conscious about buying animal-friendly products now, but I don’t necessarily feel bad about wearing these products I’ve bought in the past.

I also grew up in a family of outdoorsmen and bow hunters. Great preparation, skill and patience would go into the scouting and hunting process. The entire deer would be utilized, nothing going to waste. These family members love nature, are way more in tune to it than I have ever been, and feel the most at home when they are living—to a certain extent—in sync with this natural world. I have a lot of respect for that.

The point I’m trying to make is that this isn’t about ranking morality based on what you eat. Depending on how you see the world and your place in it, your view on eating animals will vary.

For me, I look at a hamburger and see a cute cow in a field and feel sad. I see bacon and picture a momma pig surrounded by cute little piglets and lose my appetite. It’s harder and harder for me to separate the living being from what’s being served on my plate.

Again, I see my hypocrisy (i.e. leather shoes). But instead of calling out each other’s hypocrisy (we’re all hypocrites to some degree, let’s be real here), I choose to focus on progress. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about the route chosen, the speed or the number of roadblocks you hit—it’s about the forward movement. I can feel good about where I am now and want to get better at the same time.

That’s one of the reasons why I love the Rich Roll Podcast and find it so inspiring: He advocates for a plant-based lifestyle without judgement, shame or scare tactics. He honors where everyone is in his or her journey. Highly recommend listening if you’re interested in going plant-based or just overall wellness in general (he has non-vegan guests on, too!).

I want to reduce my negative environmental impact.

Like with my previous point, there’s some admitted hypocrisy on my part here. I’m sure if someone came to my apartment to assess my carbon footprint, there’d be a laundry list of things I could improve. While eating less (no) meat is just one of the many ways I can live a more environmentally-friendly life, I do think it makes a difference.

The livestock industry accounts for a big percentage of greenhouse gas emissions (yes, there is actually some substance behind all those cow fart jokes), and biodiversity has been affected by the changing landscape for food production. This is a great article from BBC.com on the subject. It discusses the environmental benefits of the world going vegetarian but also acknowledges the negative effects it would have on developing countries and certain climates which rely on livestock to survive. It concludes by saying a reduction of animal consumption (particularly red meat) rather than complete worldwide vegetarianism is the best solution, which I find encouraging.

When it comes to the environment, it’s easy to feel discouraged that your individual choices won’t make an impact. What’s the point of little ol’ me recycling when massive factories are continually spewing pollution?! But you can and do make a difference. And you don’t have to be perfect!

The way I see it, I’m privileged to live in a developed country, in a bustling city that offers lots of plant-based options, and I have the financial means to not stress about buying food. I can eliminate animal products from my diet without any great inconvenience to my life, and in turn will be doing my part (albeit small) to reduce both my carbon footprint and contribution to animal suffering. So why not?

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I think what it all comes down to for me is eating more mindfully. When I stop to really think about what I’m putting in my body, the process it underwent from its original form to my plate, and the impact of my food choices on the world around me, I no longer want to eat animal products.

I’ve heard stories of people going vegan for years and eventually going back to eating meat citing low energy or other health issues from it. I’ve been eating very little animal products for years without such negative effects, so I don’t foresee this last little step in the plant-based direction to change that. That being said, I’ll continue to listen to my body and if I ever feel that my diet is negatively affecting me, I’ll make some changes. I think people tend to overcomplicate going plant-based (OMG you’ll never get enough protein!!!!!! The horror!!!!) but I also acknowledge that, as with any way of eating, you can’t be lazy about it if you want to feel your best.

If you guys have any questions for me or thoughts on the topic (dissenting opinions always welcome, too!), leave a comment!

Getting Back on Track with Working Out and Eating Healthy (My Thoughts)

So the other day, I jokingly (but seriously) asked those who watch my Instagram stories if they ever wondered if bloggers and influencers make up their own questions when they do Q&As on Snapchat and Insta. I’ve always assumed that if I ever tried to do a Q&A no one would ask any questions and then I’d be super embarrassed and probably have to do just that (make up my own questions) to avoid committing total social suicide (LOL).

Even though I didn’t ask for questions, I was pleasantly surprised to receive some in response (maybe those influencers aren’t making up their own after all?!). And I have so many thoughts on one of the questions that I decided to dedicate a whole blog post to it. The question:

What is your go-to when you want to get back on track, both in the kitchen and with workouts?

In this post I’m going to give some actionable tips and advice for this, but I think it needs to be done in the context of a broader discussion of the topic of falling off track with healthy living. So let’s do just that!

Changing My Mindset: I’m Never “Off Track”

Over the years, my mindset has changed drastically. In college, days were either “good” (ate pristinely and minimally and worked out) or “bad” (binge ate ice cream, cookie dough, pizza and was completely inactive). In my mind, there was no middle ground, and as a result I would swing violently between the two extremes.

I was putting so much pressure on myself to be perfectly “healthy” that any slip-up, no matter how small, was seen as failure and I’d consider the whole day a loss, binging on junk food and telling myself I’d just start again fresh the next day. I was either 110% on track or 110% off the rails.

But over the years, I’ve found that the less pressure I put on myself to be perfectly “good” when it comes to eating healthy and exercising, the easier it is to be just that. The less I think about working out and eating my veggies as things I absolutely have to do, the more enjoyable they become. I now honestly look forward to working out and genuinely prefer to eat nutrient-dense foods. Because I don’t punish myself or feel guilty for skipping a workout or indulging in dessert, doing those things doesn’t send me into a tailspin of bad health decisions.

Some people thrive when given a specific training schedule and/or meal plan. I am not one of those people. As far as I’ve come with this whole moderation thing, I still have a bit of the all-or-nothing impulse, so for me, rigid structure doesn’t work. One misstep from the plan makes me feel like a failure, and there’s a sense of obligation that comes with it which totally zaps the joy out of the activity/meal for me.

I’ve found that for me, healthy living is a life without restrictions or fixed guidelines when it comes to food and exercise. I’m never off track. The track I’m on curves and loops at times, but stressing about those detours only makes them worse and longer. Enjoying the view and accepting the detour as a part of life makes it much more enjoyable (and easier to get back on course!).

As the negative chatter in my mind has quieted, I’ve become better able to listen to my body and give it what it wants and needs. I eat what my body craves and I do the workouts I feel like doing and enjoy. I switch things up all the time so I’m never getting bored, and if I do get bored, I just stop doing that type of workout. A big reason I don’t often feel “off track” anymore is because I don’t hold myself to a specific workout regiment or type of diet. Am I eating mostly nutrient-dense meals? Am I moving my body and challenging it physically? If so, I’m good.

There are SO MANY ways to move our bodies, there’s no reason to do something you dread. Plus, if you hate something, your chances of sticking to it regularly are slim. Find a workout you enjoy and then integrate others that support it. For example, if you love running, make that your focus. But mix in some yoga and strength training to help you run stronger and injury-free.

Now I realize if you’re an elite athlete or have specific physical performance goals this laid-back approach might not suffice, but if you’re just looking to be healthy and feel good, the formula is a lot simpler than you might think. Don’t overcomplicate it!

How I Get Back into a Healthy Routine

So all that being said, everyone goes through periods of time when our daily habits aren’t the healthiest and one day turns into two which turns into a week, and before you know it, you feel a bit stuck.

The first step to getting back into a healthy routine is to acknowledge why you got off it in the first place. While it may not seem like it all the time, our bodies want to be active (with adequate rest) and nourished with healthy foods. It’s all the other shit (stress, time management, social environment, poor emotional coping mechanisms, etc., etc.) getting in the way and telling us otherwise. Trust me, you’re not being inactive and eating sugary, processed foods because your body wants you to. Figure out what’s really going on.

In recent years, when I’ve been “off track,” it’s usually because I’ve overextended myself with work and taken on too much. As my schedule becomes jammed and the stress from trying to complete everything increases, I start prioritizing work over all else, including self-care. In my brain I know that I could make time for a quick workout and that I’d feel better for having done so, but the work stress sort of paralyzes me into a woe-is-me mindset, and I stay stuck in this vicious cycle of not working out because I’m stressed, yet being stressed because I’m not working out. So work stress is the culprit at the surface, and the deeper issue is probably that I need to learn to say “no” and recognize my work load limits.

Depending on what your “why” is, the solution will vary. For me, the broader fix is that I need to learn to say “no”. On a more immediate scale, however, there’s something I like to do in these funks that I think most of us could benefit from doing once in a while: To get out of an unhealthy routine, I take a “me” day.

Now when you hear the term “me day,” images of indulgence might come to mind. But the type of “me day” that I’m talking about is one in which you give yourself what you need, which is not necessarily the same thing as what you want (but hopefully they’re not too far off).

I’m not suggesting you completely blow off all your responsibilities and pull a Ferris Bueller—I’m suggesting realistic self-care. When I read articles on the topic of self care that suggest you meditate for two hours a day, practice yoga all morning and take a six hour bath each evening, I always think, Gurrrrrl, who’s paying your damn bills?! Because clearly it’s not you. LOL.

If you have a corporate job, maybe you plan your “me day” for a Sunday. If you’re a mom, maybe it’s a “me afternoon” where you treat yourself to a babysitter. The point is to make time to give yourself what you need.

It’s honestly been a while since I’ve felt the need to do this, but I’d schedule my “me day” for a day I don’t teach or a weekend day. I’d go to bed early the night before—even if that meant leaving some work unfinished—and would workout first thing in the morning (my favorite time of day). I’d do a fitness class at one of my go-to studios and eat a healthy breakfast afterwards. I’d go grocery shopping and fill the kitchen with healthy foods and do some cooking while listening to one of my favorite podcasts. I’d probably still do some blog work because I genuinely love what I do, but I’d do the fun parts—writing, photography, picture editing. I’d end the day with some yoga and meditation.

It’s a day of prioritizing what I’ve been neglecting. Some work might be left undone, but that’s ok because I’m investing in myself and am ultimately way more productive when I do. That one day leaves me feeling invigorated, refreshed, and ready to get back to work *without* sacrificing my healthy routine. It serves as a little reminder to my body how amazing it feels to eat quality food and exercise.

Motivated and moving forward from there, I’ll get my workout in first thing in the morning before work and excuses come into play and I’ll be sure to eat a healthy breakfast. If I start my day on that note, there’s usually a ripple effect of good choices throughout the rest of it.

I love this idea of a “me day” involving exercising and eating well. We tend to associate things like spending a lot of money, indulging in sugary foods, and drinking that extra cocktail with “treating ourselves” (#TREATYOSELF). Those things aren’t bad—I’d even encourage them from time to time!—but to a certain degree I think we need to switch the narrative in our minds. Working out and choosing quality foods is something we get to do, not have to do. Exercising and eating healthily are not a punishment, they’re a treat. I think when we make this mindset shift, that’s when health becomes a lifestyle and not just a track from which we fall off and on.

And in my experience, the longer health is a lifestyle, the easier it is to maintain. If I haven’t worked out in five days because I’ve been on vacation, I’m genuinely excited for that first workout back. It’s not something I need to force myself to do, I want to workout. And because I’ve been consistent with eating reasonably healthy for years, after a weekend of eating sweets and not-so-great foods, I actually crave a salad or green juice.

Ok, longest post ever, but one more thought before I wrap it up:

The number one thing we need to understand about fitness and eating healthy is that it’s going to look different for everyone. Ultimately you need to find what works for you and in giving tips on these topics, I’m just sharing what’s worked for me. Really the best advice I can give is to get to know yourself. And when you think you know what makes you tick and why you do the things you do, prod a little deeper.