What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I just breezed into the XO offices, and by breezed in, I mean I was in a hurry-the-eff-up, slightly irritated pace because there was traffic on the West Side Highway, but more importantly, because I had gotten some very bad news as I checked my email in the cab ride down. Caitlin took one look at me as I made my way past her desk, and it was obvious she knew what I knew: our ClassPass glory days are over.
Let me explain.
I have been a ClassPass addict for about two years at this point. I am not alone in this. Jane is also a ClassPass addict. In fact, we sometimes compare notes on classes and instructors and how to get out of the dreaded cancelation fees when we are running late from meetings and can’t make it to the 6:30 we signed up for because, well, it’s 6:35 and we’re still at work. Jane just calls and says she's Jane Pratt and needs to switch her class and it probably always works because she's Jane Pratt. Dan pays the $20 cancellation fee.
In case you are not familiar with ClassPass (it’s in most major markets by now, but admittedly not everywhere), it is a web and app-based service that allows you to book unlimited* classes from fitness studios in your area. If you like spinning to the beat of EDM music at Flywheel, it’s on there. If you want to get your zen on, which is something I've never been able to do myself in a yoga class, you can roll out that mat. If you like literally destroying your body so much that you won’t be able to straighten your arms for a week (true story, IHTM), you can maybe book the 5 a.m. class at Barry’s Bootcamp on the Monday of a holiday weekend. (Barry's is the hardest workout in the world and I do not recommend trying it, even if you do actually work out as much as I do.) There are even meditation classes, which I guess relate back to fitness in some way, and I was never going to argue with it as an option.
ClassPass has some stipulations. For example, even though classes are unlimited* (here's where that asterisk above comes into play), you can only book three from the same studio in a month's time. But there are about 20 of each type of studio at any given point, so as long as you don't mind being at, say, a Peloton class one day and a Swerve the next, you can pretty much spin every day of the week. And yes, if you miss class, you pay $20. If you cancel within a 12-hour window, you pay $15 and it counts as a spot at that studio.
But even taking this all into consideration, the fact that an average SoulCycle class in NYC will cost you $34 a pop, it seems like a deal to pay $99 for a month's full of unlimited classes, right? Right?
Well, it was that way when I first signed up. In November 2014. That was the price. I know this, because I just had to search my Amex bills to see when exactly I started using the service. ClassPass doesn't have this info in their app, because clearly, they do not value loyalty.
During this blissful time, in early ClassPass days, you could pretty much book any class at any time at any studio with little to no trouble. In fact, I loved the service so much I was doing word-of-mouth marketing for them to basically every person I knew, which, in retrospect, was probably a really bad thing. Very quickly, more people got on ClassPass, classes became harder to book at normal times, studios you had been visiting on CP for months started to pull out, and new studios you'd never heard of but were willing to give a try started to make their way in. It was still good, just less good than it had been.
Somewhere around October 2014, ClassPass decided my new fee would be $125/month for their services. They sent this to me in an email, and in all fairness, with enough warning that I had the option to cancel before the new pricing set in.
It was around this time that I think I attended a class at one of the "newer" studios, which they liked to email-blast about on a weekly basis. This studio, if you could call it that, was in the living room of the fitness instructor's Chelsea apartment. I kid you not — she had a two-story apartment and upon arrival, ushered her dog up the stairs and locked it up there with a baby gate. Her furniture-less living room, adjacent to the kitchen where coffee was brewing, became the "studio." We worked out with elastic bands and free weights, and she was one of those fitness instructors who was so positive and uplifting in a maybe-I-should-quit-my-job-and-do-this way that I didn't complain about the lack of showers at the "studio." She also offered me coffee after our cool-down.
To be honest, I kinda saw the ClassPass increase coming. Just knowing their business model and how many people were starting to use the service, I felt it brewing. I accepted it. It seemed fair. It was also $25, which is $300 a year. It's not a small amount of money, but considering I'd spend more on a gym membership and ClassPass allows you to workout at gyms around the city for an hour of something they call "Gym Time," I accepted it. I had the flexibility of "Gym Time" at Crunch and a fitness smorgasbord at my disposal for that price. Even if some of my workouts would happen in living rooms, I would soldier on with ClassPass.
This is the point in this piece where I realize I am very fortunate I am even able to afford $99 or $125 for a fitness membership each month. This is not a small amount of money. I realize this seems like a complaint, and it is a complaint, but I realize how small of a complaint it is in the grand scheme of things.
BUT JUST THIS MORNING, CLASSPASS EMAILED ME AGAIN TELLING ME HOW MUCH I AM NOW GOING TO PAY FOR THEIR SERVICES.
We are increasing rates for our Unlimited membership to $190/mo.+tax for current Unlimited members ($200/mo.+tax for new members).
This is a fucking Uber surge at 90X and I am not getting in the fucking Uber.
There are simply not many things I would pay 90% more for, and this is coming from someone who lives in New York City, where 30-40% increases in rent are sometimes the norm if you live in a market-rate apartment and the economy is doing good. Still, that is YOUR HOUSE. This is Uber for fitness. Quite different.
Even looking at it from a $125 to $190 increase, that is a 52% increase in a service that has not really gotten much better, well, ever. Have these people ever heard of Netflix trying to increase their prices by a mere $1? The whole fucking universe exploded. Could you imagine if McDonald's went up 52% overnight? Mutiny. Everyone would be eating at Wendy's. (Which in my opinion, is more delicious anyway.)
To be fair, ClassPass is introducing a new membership plan, which I can downgrade to, which will give me 10 classes per month at $125 + tax. But I know myself, and I take more than 10 classes per month, so I fear this would mean a significant decrease in the amount I'm exercising, which basically renders the service useless for me.
The amount of anxiety this has caused me this morning is insane. It has put me into a downward spiral of unrecognizable proportions. Marci and Amber are probably reading this nodding their heads right now, while Cailtin is quietly stewing away at her desk as a former ClassPass comrade (Her response: "I stared blankly at my inbox while wondering how many klonopin I’m going to have to take in order to get myself to Equinox sans anxiety attack.")
I even took to the Twitter, a social platform I use for shits and giggles at this point, to complain. I COMPLAIN-TWEETED. I am that person today. Please tell me I'm being insane.