ClassPass Is Helping Fitness Studios Amid Coronavirus Closures … Sort Of
ClassPass is compensating instructors for live-streamed workouts, but not for prerecorded ones.
This post has been updated.
Note: We are not disclosing the names of fitness studios who contributed sentiments about their experiences with ClassPass. The anonymity is meant to protect these studios from potential partnership repercussions.
Since 2013, ClassPass has provided a way for fitness enthusiasts to “shop around” for exercise classes in over 2,500 studios worldwide. While the search engine relies on studio participation to exist, boutique gyms seem to have a love/hate relationship with the app. They love it because it can help bring in new clients as a kind of try-before-you-buy experience. They hate it because, well, ClassPass has kind of screwed them over. For example, in the past, users were allowed to frequent the same studio only three times per cycle, meaning if you really loved a place, you’d have to purchase classes directly from the boutique. Now, there’s no limit as to how many times you can hit the same studio, making it more difficult for gym owners to reap financial gains.
Ever since COVID-19 forced non-essential businesses to close, Philly fitness studios have been adapting in their own ways, from streaming online classes to renting out equipment for clients to use at home. In light of these closures, ClassPass also modified their approach, and notified their users (me being one of them) via a series of emails. Here’s a breakdown of those adjustments:
- March 14th: CEO Fritz Lanman says all unused credits will roll over at the end of the cycle, and that no credits will expire before June 1st. Lanman encourages users to take advantage of the audio and video workouts that have been available on the app prior to the coronavirus outbreak.
- March 18th: ClassPass suspends billing on my membership due to studio closures in the Philly area.
- March 25th: Three big announcements. (1) ClassPass gives studio partners the ability to post live-streamed workouts and virtual coaching sessions on the app. Users can book using credits, even if their account is paused. Lanman says that partners will receive “100-percent of the proceeds from these purchases for the next two months.” (2) They launch the Partner Relief Fund, which gives users the ability to donate directly to their favorite studios through the app. ClassPass will match the total amount of donations up to $1 million. (3) ClassPass makes their entire library of prerecorded workouts available to the public for free.
One local studio owner feels these initiatives could be steps in the right direction for the company. “From what my [ClassPass] rep told me, it will cost a ClassPass user the same amount of money it would for any of our clients to take class at our drop-in rate, and the company isn’t taking a commission on this until June 1st” the owner says. “It gives us the same exposure that comes with being on the platform and we get all of the earned money. I couldn’t say no to that.”
But some studio owners are more wary, especially with ClassPass’s inconsistent track record of partner support. As a different owner informed us, ClassPass will not be compensating studios for uploaded recorded workouts — an aforementioned “perk” being offered to users. Though ClassPass PR manager, Mandy Menaker, says the prerecorded workouts were a way to provide partners free marketing, many local studios need financial support — not promotional services — for all created content. “If I am putting a recorded workout up on a platform that people are paying a monthly subscription for, I need some sort of compensation,” a local studio owner says. “It takes time to create quality workouts and I deserve to be reimbursed for my services.”
As a ClassPass user myself (who also purchases class packages directly from studios), I’m pleased to see ClassPass making strides to help small businesses, which is especially crucial right now. But while all my favorite fitness boutiques are closed, I’m choosing to forgo the middle man. Instead, I’m signing up for workouts through studio-selected platforms (like Zoom and IG Live) and paying them directly. It’s the only way I know (1) where my money is actually going and (2) that studios actually have a chance to open their doors once this lockdown lifts.