A flexible workout app already gaining in cities across the U.S. hit Sacramento this week, giving fitness fanatics access to local group classes with a few simple swipes.
ClassPass, which launched in New York last fall, offers Sacramentans a $79 monthly membership, which covers unlimited participation in all of the cycling, pilates, yoga and other classes taught at participating studios. The application launched locally on Monday with more than 30 local fitness studios, including P2O Hot Pilates & Fitness, Asha Yoga and Fitness Rangers.
Members can attend as many group fitness classes as they want, providing they take no more than three classes at the same studio within the course of the month. The idea is to expose users to a variety of workouts so that their routines won’t get too monotonous, said Ashley Lewis, director of strategic partnerships for the company.
ClassPass is the first mobile application to offer an unlimited number of Sacramento fitness classes during a one-month period. A similar program, the MetaBody Yoga and Fitness Pass featured on Groupon, offers a 30-class flex pass for $350, granting the user six months of access to about 12 locations including several martial arts studios.
Under the ClassPass model, studios offer the classes, which usually cost $15 to $20 a pop, at a discounted rate in exchange for the increased exposure they hope the app will provide. The app keeps track of studios with empty spots in their group classes and attempts to fill them with ClassPass members, Lewis said.
“You’re discovering these amazing studios that you might not have otherwise known about, because they’re small-business operations,” she said. “There are small gems out there that are offering amazing workouts that people can now find.”
Three Sacramento-area locations of The Dailey Method – a studio offering core workouts based on yoga, Pilates and ballet barre – all started accepting ClassPass this week, said co-owner Sandra Lemos.
So far about 15 students have registered for classes through the app between the three studios, Lemos said. She hopes that after app users try a class, they’ll shift to a Dailey Method membership or purchase additional monthly Dailey Method classes.
“There are a lot of boutique fitness places now, and it’s great for everybody involved, especially for people who are not sure what’s going to be best for them,” she said. “We have so many smaller places now in Sacramento, it makes sense. It allows people to dabble and try them all out.”
The ClassPass app, which is connected to more than 3,000 fitness studios across the U.S., in London and Canada, grew from seven markets to 20 in its first three months – an impressive accomplishment, according to startup-focused publication TechCrunch. It said there were 1.5 million reservations made through the system as of Jan. 15, with no signs of slowing.
Sacramento marks the 30th and most recent U.S. city for ClassPass, which is available on the iPhone with an Android app coming soon.
In choosing which cities to expand to, ClassPass seeks out an area with a booming “boutique” fitness industry, Lewis said. The term refers to high-end, individually owned studios that experts say may be replacing the commercial gyms of old.
Stephanie Thielen, an Omaha-based personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise, said boutique-style classes are gaining popularity nationwide because of their ability to cater to a niche population. People want more than just machines – and they’re willing to pay a little extra for that, she said.
“It’s a sense of community,” Thielen said. “You get to know people, the classes are smaller. They’re more top-notch because they really specialize in that genre. You’re getting a better experience with instruction, rather than going to a gym.”
The Sacramento area has proved a fertile ground for boutique fitness in recent years, with the launch of a number of high-end studios including Orangetheory and TEAMride. This January, Sacramento was ranked the eighth-fittest city in the nation, according to an analysis from BetterDoctor.com. Data collected by the company showed that about 85 percent of Sacramentans surveyed had exercised in the past month.
While the ClassPass system might appeal to those who aren’t sure what their perfect workout is, some studio owners say it’s not always a good fit.
Maria Bardet, owner of Humani Pilates in midtown, said she is excited about ClassPass coming to Sacramento, but opted not to add her studio to the network. Her method, which focuses on making the body strong, functional and correctly structured, is best taught through regular practice, she said; a student who only comes three times per month might not get the full benefit.
“Pilates is a full body and mind experience,” Bardet said. “It’s not just a workout, it’s a lifestyle ... If someone is just in and out, it’s really hard to show them what Pilates is all about.”
Call The Bee’s Sammy Caiola, (916) 321-1636.