ClassPass London review: a one-stop shop for fitness classes in London

We were pretty happy when ClassPass crossed the pond and launched in London last month, giving us capital-dwellers the opportunity to try out their pick-n-mix approach to fitness classes. So we dived straight in to see how we got on with it – here’s our ClassPass review.

How does ClassPass work?

You pay a monthly fee of £89 (or £69 if you commit to 3 months, £59 for 6), which gives you unlimited access to classes at studios right across the city:

CP map

Considering they’ve only just launched, there’s an incredible range of locations and studios, including some well-known names like Frame and Pineapple Dance Studios. In fact, when I joined up at launch, there was only one studio I was disappointed wasn’t on the list: Seen on Screen, purveyors of the Britney class made famous by Buzzfeed. And then I got this email:

sosNo complaints here, then!

Finding a class on ClassPass

First off, you’re going to want to refine your options. Seriously, ClassPass is like ASOS: so much good stuff, but you’ll be there all day if you try to look at it all. Thankfully, the filters are pretty powerful – choose a day, then narrow down the times you’re available (before or after work, for instance), then choose an area and a type of class if you want:

choose a class

It’s quite fun sifting through all the different kinds of classes, though, so I wouldn’t narrow it down straight away. Also, you might find some really cool classes that you have to travel a bit for – I don’t mind going out of my way for a bit of Pop Aerobics or Rave Dance! So I’d recommend narrowing by the times you’re available on the day you want to go, then having a browse. Only narrow down further if you’ve got something in mind or you’re still overwhelmed.

While the filters are good, I can’t help feeling there are some big gaps, especially if you’re a beginner. There’s no way to filter by the level of the class, so the scary expert ones are right in there with the mixed, beginners, intermediates and many, many, many classes that don’t specify ability level. I would appreciate the facility to narrow by intensity and expertise/fitness required, but as of now everything’s mixed in together and it’s hit-and-miss as to whether the blurb specifies how hard it is or not. That’s quite intimidating for a beginner – if you’ve never done street dance or you’re a spin newbie, how can you tell if you’re going to be completely out of your depth? At the moment, the best option is to call the studio, but that diminishes ClassPass’s usefulness as a one-stop shop.

The FAQs state that the ClassPass team have “tested classes at all of the studios on ClassPass to make sure they are suitable for all levels — from beginners to advanced,” but there are classes on the site clearly marked as intermediate or ‘level 2′, so that can’t apply to all of them, which makes me wonder whether there are some higher-level classes that aren’t marked as such. As someone who once turned up to a beginners’ dance class only to find out it had been bumped up to Ultra-Sexy Pro-Level Superstars (or that’s how they looked to me, anyway), this worries me a lot!

ClassPass’ information about classes and studios appears to be filled in by the studios themselves, so some are really helpful and informative and some are a bit useless, or even completely empty. Still, as a studio and class discovery engine, ClassPass is immensely useful. I’d never have found half these classes on my own with Google. In that way, it’s a bit like Groupon for fitness.

Booking a class with ClassPass

Once you’ve chosen your class, click ‘Reserve’:

Screenshot_2015-04-03-18-41-48

You’ll then be greeted by this screen:

Screenshot_2015-04-03-18-42-00

That means you can spend an age narrowing down the thing you want to do, get excited, and then find out that it’s fully booked. I don’t think full classes should even show up in the search, but maybe with the volume of classes on offer, it’d be too labour-intensive on the site. No one wants to spend 9 years waiting for the results to load.

Luckily for me, all the classes I’ve booked so far have been available, but I know from booking directly through Seen on Screen in the past that their dance classes book up fast, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s trickier to get in at more popular studios. Classes are added to the site everyday at midday, so that’s the time to be online!

If your class is available, you’ll get a confirmation:

Screenshot_2015-04-03-18-42-07

Google Calendar integration is built-in, which is very handy, and you get a confirmation and reminder email, too. The class also shows on the homepage when you log in, and the site keeps a tally of how many classes you’ve done and have coming up. It also really helpfully greys out the ‘reserve’ buttons for classes at the same time as one you’ve already booked:

reserve

You can share your profile link with other people so they can ‘follow’ you on ClassPass, but I’m not sure many people would actually use that.

pop

If you need to cancel a class, you can do that directly from the ClassPass site, which is good – but there’s a £12 charge if it’s less than 12 hours before the booking. That’s worth bearing in mind if you frequently end up working late or making last-minute plans: you might want to leave your booking until you’re sure you can make it. All classes are available up to 24 hours beforehand, and some can be booked as late as 5 minutes before. There’s a £15 no-show fee if you don’t turn up, so make use of the Google Calendar function and don’t forget to go.

Once you’ve booked, you don’t have to print anything or bring an awkward QR code – you just need some photo ID. For that reason, it’s probably not a good idea to try and book your friends in!

The verdict

I’ve loved using ClassPass as both a class-discovery and one-stop booking service. It’s got all my favourite studios, and I’ve found some new types of exercise that I wouldn’t otherwise have come across. The selection can be a bit overwhelming, and I’d appreciate much more hand-holding in terms of intensity levels and what each class involves and requires (a video from the class would be even better), but for a just-launched service I’m pretty happy with it.

The no-commitment month-by-month model is a great way to dip your toe in, but I’d definitely recommend booking 3 or 6 months if you think you’ll stick with it, because £89 vs £59 is a pretty big difference. Depending on how many classes you do each month, the service could represent really good value for money. My classes at Seen On Screen usually cost between £12 and £20 each, for comparison.

You could even use ClassPass as a way to discover new classes and studios, then cancel and just sign up to your favourite class or studio once you’ve found it. If you only go once a week, you might well be better off paying lesson-by-lesson, especially as you can only go to the same studio three times per month with ClassPass. Bear in mind, too, that there’s an eye-watering £69 fee for rejoining ClassPass at any time after you’ve cancelled, which seems quite unfair. Why would you penalise people for wanting to come back? (Alternatively, you can put your membership on hold, but that still costs £19 per month with one class included).

You can join ClassPass on their website, but it’s worth emailing infoUK@classpass.com first to see if they’re doing one-week free trials at the moment – apparently they’re available ‘on a limited basis’. Always worth a try – tell ’em ShinyShiny sent you.

Holly Brockwell