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Using a ClassPass trial membership to find your perfect workout

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Brian Ach/AP Images for Self/File

(Read caption) Fitness enthusiasts participating in a class at SELF Up & Out Studio in New York.

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Running was my go-to workout until an old injury reared its ugly head. "No high impact workouts," my doctor instructed. I must have looked stricken. "Maybe try spinning," he suggested. Ugh.

I knew from previous experience that I wasn't a fan of spin classes. I had to find something else I liked to do, something I could connect with, and I didn't have the time or budget to launch an intensive search for my next favorite thing.

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Enter ClassPass. For a flat fee, members get access to a network of boutique fitness studios and gyms without having an actual membership at any of them. Three membership levels let subscribers tailor their fitness routines for a single monthly fee: $60 for five classes per month, $115 for 10, or $175 for unlimited classes. And there are a lot of classes available. Take a look at this map of Chicago.

That's a metric ton of options.

The catch is that when you find a studio you like, you're limited to three classes per month at that location. Plus, studios come and go, and nor to they always allow ClassPass visitors to partake of every class on their schedule. So achieving some workout consistency from one month to the next may be problematic.

On the other hand, if, like me, you aren't sure what you want to do and want an easy, low cost way to explore your options handed to you on a silver platter, ClassPass is kind of amazing. I paid $30 for a trial membership that included 10 classes for one month (that's only $3 per class!), scheduled out my first four classes, and never looked back.

Day 1: Pilates

I'd spent about two years off and on at a high end barre studio, and plenty of time even more sporadically in yoga classes before that, so my first foray into pilates didn't really introduce me to anything new. It was a good workout, but I didn't really find it fulfilling. It seemed like the kind of thing I would get bored with inside a month.

Drop-In Rate: $25
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $22

Day 2: Aerial Silks

A college friend of mine does some really impressive acrobatic performance work with silks, so when I spotted this all-levels "foundation" class, I was pretty excited to give it a try. It was a total disaster. The silks bit into my hips and lower back and I clearly did not have enough upper body strength for even the most basic movements. When I found myself upside down, suspended by one leg while trying to do crunches without a spotter, all I could think about was the liability waiver and the likelihood of being carried out on a stretcher with a neck brace. I carefully extricated myself from the silk, rolled up my mat, and quietly left halfway through the class.

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Drop-In Rate: $30
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $27

Day 3: Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Chicago has a high boating culture that often takes our coastal brethren by surprise. Let's just say that living on the shores of one of the world's largest lakes has its perks. So one sunny Saturday during my trial period I wandered down to the beach to take a paddleboarding lesson that I found amongst the ClassPass offerings. I never managed to stand up, but I had a good time paddling about on my knees. Alas, it's not exactly a workout I could do every day, year round. Even if the weather cooperated with that idea, staying well-stocked in Dramamine would cost me a small fortune.

One-Hour Lesson: $45
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $41

Day 4: Muay Thai

At my first Muay Thai class, the gym was hot and humid and smelled of sweat. I'd never taken any kind of martial arts before. I don't think I'd ever thrown a punch before. I wanted to give it a try simply because I was sampling everything I could, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into.I figured I was probably going to be a hot mess and giggle through the whole thing. And then they taught me how to kick, and I heard my shin smack against the pads over and over, and I was hooked. I was accustomed to feeling physically helpless, even more so after running was taken off the table. With kickboxing, I actually felt powerful, capable, possible. It was the first workout I'd tried that tapped into something deeper.

First Class: $0
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $0*

*I used ClassPass for my first and second classes here, but then they let me use the free trial for my third class, which I scheduled after pausing my ClassPass membership. So the only way I lost money is if I never went back after the first class.

Day 5: Spinning

I was already pretty sure I hated spin, but I gave it one more shot just to be sure, choosing a 30 minute class to keep the torture to a minimum. "Push harder! Get into the red zone!" the instructor shouted at us. I pushed as hard as I could and never got above yellow. I was completely turned off by the leaderboard, which pits all of the riders in the class against one another. I really had no use for a workout that not only made it so clear, with numbers and color coding, how terrible I was, but that also broadcast it to a bunch of strangers I had no desire to compete against.

First Class: $0
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: -$3

Day 6: Mysore Ashtanga Yoga

While I'm not new to yoga, I had never done a Mysore class before. Yoga comes in a bunch of different flavors, and Mysore Ashtanga is a tradition which helps its students to personalize their practice through one-on-one instruction. This makes it almost like a sort of athletic physical therapy. The quiet, calm space, stretch and constant gentle adjustments were a fantastic refuge from an otherwise hectic and stressful week.

Drop-In Rate: $20
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $17

Day 7: More Muay Thai

You know I had to come back. I would have gone again the next day if I could, but a week later was the best I could do. We learned elbows. I was the only woman in my class and it didn't matter that I was surrounded by guys with bulging muscles. It maybe did matter a bit that I was borrowing training gloves from the gym that were heavy and too big for my hands. I tried not to think about how many gross sweaty man hands had worn them before me. On Prime Day, I ordered a pair of my own.

Drop-In Rate: $25
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $22

Day 8: Interval Strength Training

I signed up for this class because it claimed to be cardio-free and touted itself as a good "off day" workout. My mental image of some relatively gentle, low key strength training was shattered pretty quickly when the instructor started explaining all of the different stations. For a non-cardio class, it sure had a lot of it. Think of everything you've ever seen transpire in The Biggest Loser gym. That was what we did, in five minute bursts. When it was all said and done, I had to just sit for a few minutes to avoid puking in the trash bin.

Drop-In Rate: $40
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $37

Day 9: Doonya

Doonya is a Bollywood-inspired dance workout that reminded me of nothing so much as the aerobics craze of the 1980s. Remember step, anyone? Okay, there wasn't a step, or any props for that matter. But it was a lot of choreography that looked simple until my two left feet tried to string it together. I mostly felt clumsy and uncoordinated, but the important part was to just keep moving, and the music and Bollywood choreography were fun.

Drop-In Rate: $15
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: $12

Day 10: Even More Muay Thai

For my third Muay Thai class, I tried out a different studio. It was an all-levels class, and I was paired with a guy who was way, WAY above my level. The drills and overall pace were a bit too much for me at my level, and I walked out with my first bruises, but I was still having a blast. I was still grossed out by the borrowed gloves, though, and really, really looking forward to getting my own.

First Class: $0
My ClassPass Trial: $3
Total Saved: -$3

What I learned after my month with ClassPass

I wasn't surprised to find a workout that I loved with ClassPass. With so much variety to choose from, it was bound to happen. What did surprise me was the revelation that the workouts that I connected with the most were the ones that extended beyond the studio and tended to the soul in some way. Yoga offers me reflection and meditation to steady the mind. Muay Thai offers me empowerment and a pressure relief valve. I've put my ClassPass membership on pause so I can concentrate on the stuff that nurtures both my body and my soul.

These are my key takeaways:

  • Look for a trial membership to get started. Visiting their website and liking them on Facebook is a good start since that will be enough to trigger ads in your timeline. Eventually, a trial offer will show up. These usually run $19 for five classes during your first month. The deal that I found, $30 for 10 classes in the first month, seems a bit more rare and may be restricted to certain cities. I'd been on the lookout for a trial for a few days, and just happened to be visiting Los Angeles when I spotted the $30 for 10 classes offer. I honestly don't know if I would have seen the same offer in Chicago.
  • When visiting a new studio, check for a free trial before booking through ClassPass. During a ClassPass trial, the cost of a class broke out to $3 each. Several times during my trial month, I used a ClassPass spot at a studio that offered a free trial to new students. In that case, what I should have done is try it for free, then used ClassPass if I liked it enough to go back. If I'd done that, I could have squeezed in two extra workouts for no additional cost. I was lucky that my Muay Thai place gave me the free trial class on my third studio visit since it was my first visit outside of ClassPass, but I wouldn't advise anyone else try that trick.
  • Use ClassPass as an exploration tool. I was trying a wide variety of workouts in a search for something I could love. However, if you already know what your jam is, you can use ClassPass to explore different studios that cater to it. Love yoga? Visit every yoga studio you can.
  • Be sure you know what equipment they'll provide for the class. There were classes that I was interested in but skipped because they required students to bring their own training gloves, which I didn't have yet. Likewise, I always appreciated knowing if a yoga studio provided mats since lugging mine on public transit tends to be awkward.
  • It's a great option for frequent travelers. I bought my trial month in Los Angeles, but used it up in Chicago. If I'd traveled to Seattle, London, Toronto, or any one of the 32 cities they currently service, I could have used it there, too.

If I had tried all of these workouts without ClassPass, I would have spent a grand total of $200, an average of $20 per class. Instead, I spent just $30 on a trial offer, spending $3 per class, and saved a total of $170.

This story was originally published on Brad's Deals.


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