In 30 days I have kickboxed, bellied up to the barre (no, not the fun kind) and spun so hard I thought my legs would fall off. I've grunted through countless iterations of high-intensity interval training and would be fine if I never saw another kettlebell in my life. I've belly danced, pole danced and Zumba danced. And I did it all for $30!*
What is this magical fitness sorcery I speak of, you ask? ClassPass! By now you have probably heard of the fitness subscription service that provides access to hundreds of boutique gyms, as I was a little late to jump on the ClassPass bandwagon. But in case you haven't, ClassPass allows users to switch up their workout routine and attend a variety of classes ranging from CrossFit to barre, rowing, TRX and everything in between for a flat rate. With nearly 300 studios participating in the DMV region, there's truly something for everyone. The caveats are that you can only visit each studio three times a month, and they have a pretty strict cancellation policy: you must cancel 12 hours in advance to avoid a $15 fee.
In the beginning, I wanted to try out as many different classes as I possibly could, but now that I've settled into my ClassPass routine, I've found a few favorites.
- Barre: LaveBarre- Barre has always been one of my favorite workouts (gotta love the leg shakes) and LavaBarre is not only conveniently located right up the street from my office, but offers several different varieties of barre classes. Think your basic barre class to barre burn, which is a condensed class that gets your heart rate up quickly and keeps it there through quick transitions and super sets. Or BarreRock which incorporates high intensity interval training into barre for a dynamic power hour. LavaBarre also offers one of my favorite TRX classes in the city, as you'll spend 30 minutes each on the signature LavaBarre technique and suspension training classes to simultaneously develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability.
- HIIT (high intensity interval training): MRT at Definitions- This was a new-to-me ClassPass discovery that is now an integral part of my workout routine and I love it! The MRT classes are taught by a husband and wife duo, Earl and DeShay Williams, and offer personalized interval training that alternates periods of short, intense weight or cardio work with less intense recovery periods. Think sprint rowing for 50 seconds for three cycles, alternated with three sets of 50 seconds of kettlebell swings, followed by 1 minute of rest; you repeat this cycle at three different stations and you complete each station twice. Classes are 50-minutes (stretching begins and ends each class) but research shows you'll continue burning fat for 24 to 48 hours after you stop interval training.
- Cycling: Flywheel- In D.C. people tend to either be a SoulCycle or a Flywheel. I'm a Flywheel, mainly because they participate in ClassPass. Spinning is one of those "love to hate it" type of workouts for me, where I spend the 45-minutes wondering why I signed up for this torture but then feel like a million bucks when I get off the bike and see how many miles I rode, calories I burned and classmates I left in the dust!
ClassPass recently celebrated their third anniversary and released a few company milestones, broken down by region. In D.C. members have booked nearly 1 million reservations to date; the most popular weekday class time is 6:30 p.m. and on weekends it's 10 a.m.; when looking at which types of classes over index in comparison to the rest of the ClassPass baseline, we see that Pilates, Barre and Cycling are the most popular class types in D.C. The app is available in 39 cities and across three continents and your membership now comes with ClassPass Flex, which allows you to take a class in any participating city so you can still utilize your package when you travel.
I found the app to be the easiest way to book classes as you can filter by day, time, studio, neighborhood, exercise type or amenities to find exactly what works for you. It also keeps track of all your past classes and shows you what you have scheduled for that week.
Yes, I was skeptical about the worth of ClassPass (especially when they dramatically increased their rates right before I joined) but was very quickly a convert. When I realized how many of the classes I already loved taking (but couldn't afford regularly) were available through ClassPass, I was hooked. I did the math and had I taken my first 10 classes at their normal rates, I would have spent $250. And it seems I am not alone as nearly 70 percent of ClassPass members were not regular users of boutique fitness prior to joining.
So overall who would I recommend ClassPass to? Anyone that fits one or more of these categories:
- People who love group classes
- Anyone already taking more than 4 boutique fitness classes a month
- Those who have fitness commitment issues and don't want to limit themselves to one studio
- Or anyone who is in a fitness rut and wants to mix it up
*Editor's Note: I purchased my ClassPass during a promotional period. The normal rates are $55 for 5 classes, $105 for 10 classes or $155 for unlimited classes.