I could feel the heat rising in my face before I’d even finished reading the email. After nearly two years as a ClassPass customer, I couldn’t believe that the service I loved was asking me to pay an amount I never dreamed I would spend on fitness—and one that would handily cover my monthly membership to the kind of fancy gym I associated with people who’d truly made it in life. So I put in my cancellation.
And it cost me more than I ever could have imagined.
Before I joined ClassPass in 2014, my fitness M.O. was simple: I paid the bare minimum at a basic gym, and every holiday/birthday/parental visit, I begged for 10-class cards and gift certificates to the kind of boutique fitness studios I loved. I was obsessed with barre classes, hooked on indoor cycling studios, infatuated with bootcamp, so ClassPass was nothing short of a revelation. All the classes I ever dreamed of, for $99 a month? How could it be?! I dove in headfirst and got into the best shape of my life, telling my friends, coworkers and literal strangers on the street about my new find.
Did it seem a little too good to be true? Sure.
I’ve written about luxury products my whole career, and I know when something is underpriced. The $30 classes I’d been paying for hadn’t magically become free, but I was happy not to think about it…until the price hike made me think this maybe wasn’t such a good deal anymore.
After all, in the two years I’d been using ClassPass, I’d fallen into a rut.
I hit the same two yoga studios at the beginning and end of the week, slept through dance cardio classes I somehow convinced myself I might enjoy at least once a week and punched out my frustrations at boxing every Wednesday, and that was it. I was spending as much on late-cancel fees as I was on membership, as I let my day job take priority over my health, and in my burned-out, exhausted state, I decided it was time to indulge.
So, I joined the luxury gym. You know the one. The rooftop pool, the designer bath products in the shower, the piles of fluffy towels, one treadmill after another packed with the kind of ultra-fit, hypercompetitive people I aspired to be. “It’s not like they don’t have classes here,” I told myself. “You can go to class every morning just like you used to, and on days when you’re not feeling like class you can just hit the elliptical and at least do a little cardio!”
It was the perfect back-up plan, and I couldn’t wait to get started. I eased into membership with a totally solid mat Pilates class, and a free session with a personal trainer. On day 3, I laced up my sneakers and hopped on the treadmill, and the minute my feet hit the rubber, I remembered something:
“Oh no,” I thought. “I’ve always hated this.”
And over the next year, I watched my perfect plan fall completely apart. Sure, I made it to a few yoga classes, and lounging by the pool in summertime was a delightful (but not, you know, a workout) experience, but I went from exercising nearly every day to exercising barely once a week. I gained around 20 pounds and lost muscle faster than I even realized was possible, which made burning off the extra weight that much harder. I simply couldn’t exercise as hard or as long as I could before now that I was heavier, and I was trapped in a vicious cycle that made me even more frustrated than I was before. I’d indulged, all right—and now I was paying for it in a way I’d never anticipated.
In my frustration, I’d overlooked the most important factor in creating a fitness routine: You have to find a workout that you look forward to doing, and I’ve never looked forward to going to the gym.
It was in studio classes where I found my passion for fitness, with instructors who gave me the personal attention I needed to improve, the motivation to push myself further each time, and the kind of variety I’ve always needed to successfully cross-train my body. My mother always taught me, when considering a purchase, to remember that “it’s only a bargain if you’re getting something you want.” In addition to preventing me from picking up some seriously ill-advised crop tops off the sale rack, that advice also reassured me that spending a smaller amount of money on something you don’t really like or won’t use is more of a waste than spending a larger amount of money on something you’ll love and use all the time.
So this month, after my yearlong contract was up, I came back to ClassPass.
I practically skipped in the door of one of the first studios I ever fell in love with, and when I looked in the mirror, I saw myself again. I know the next phase of my journey is just beginning, but I’m taking some valuable lessons from my breakup with ClassPass with me back into the studio. I’ve learned that anyone can compare prices, but it takes some real self-knowledge to identify real value, and to admit that you may need a certain kind of structure or guidance to thrive.
For me, personally, I also learned that I can’t put a price on health.
With diabetes, arthritis and osteoporosis in my family history, working out while I’m young isn’t just about being thinner or fitter. It’s about making an investment in my body that will pay off far into the future, and as long as I can objectively afford to do the workouts I love, I’ll do them, because it’s way cheaper than the costs of not doing them down the line.
And lastly, I learned that in fitness, as in life, you get out what you put into it.
ClassPass was always designed to help you discover new classes, and I have no one blame for falling into a rut but myself. It turns out I’ve also come back to a new-and-improved ClassPass service that lets me plan workouts with friends, try more more studios than ever, take classes in other cities when I travel for work or play, and yes, even book an hour at the gym if I ever feel like just hitting the treadmill.
So whether I’m in the gym or at the studio, I have ClassPass to thank for getting my butt in gear again!