Metro explores the latest trends emerging on the West Coast of Canada.
Healthy obsession: Vancouverites sweating over ClassPass fee hike
Fitness subscription service ClassPass recently increased its unlimited membership fees for Vancouver users by up to 50 per cent.
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When Sarah Hickey first signed up for ClassPass, she thought the concept seemed too good to be true.
In February, the Vancouver communications professional tried a $19 two-week trial of the popular fitness subscription service and then signed up for an unlimited membership, even writing a blog post about her love of the service.
“I thought it was a great program, as someone who gets bored pretty easily going to the gym,” Hickey, 31, told Metro. “I found the class environment a little more motivating; it brings out the competitiveness in me.”
ClassPass, which grant members access to a host of boutique fitness studios for a single monthly fee, is soaring in popularity in Vancouver. Loyal members rave about the ability to try a diverse range of fitness classes— from spin to yoga, barre, Cross Fit, Krav Maga and even float.
Earlier this month, however, ClassPass sent an email to customers to inform them that it was forced to increase its $99 membership fee as a result of increasing drop-in studio rates. In Vancouver, new members would be paying $145 a month for an unlimited membership.
For Hickey, instead of her previous promotional rate of $89 a month, she says her unlimited membership jumped 50 per cent to $135 a month, the new rate for previous users.
“That is not a little increase,” says Hickey. “The cost of living here in Vancouver is already so high that you really have to think, is it worth investing that extra money?”
She's not alone in feeling that way. The sudden steep fee adjustment left many fitness fanatics worked up about whether they can continue to afford the service, with hordes of customers taking to Twitter, threatening to cancel their memberships.
A ClassPass spokesperson was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
But in a recent interview with Forbes, company CEO and co-founder Payal Kadaki says the decision to increase the membership rates was due to an unexpected side effect of the company’s success.
According to the company, ClassPass users have booked more than 18 million reservations in the company’s 8,000+ studios worldwide since the service launched in 2013.
Kadaki says those numbers have rendered Class Pass' business model unsustainable.
In order to remain accessible and affordable, Kadaki says the company decided to add less expensive membership options: $55 a month for five classes a month and $95 a month for 10..
Rather than only increase the price of unlimited membership, Kadaki says the company added other membership options in an effort to remain accessible and affordable to the rest of the market.
While Hickey says she still plans on sticking with ClassPass for now, she is downgrading her membership to the 10-per-month option and adding runs and bike rides on the seawall as a no-cost substitute for the lost classes.
After all, Hickey says, she had a feeling that the unlimited membership wouldn’t last for long.
“I knew it was too good to be true,” she says.