Why I Choose The Dabbler Approach to Fitness

ClassPass Studios - Portland

I consider myself a “dabbler” in many aspects of life – hobbies, interests, cooking, fitness… What makes a dabbler? It’s defined as “one not deeply engaged in or concerned with something”, which seems a little negative. I think it of more for the positive aspects — So much to try. So little time. While the current trend seems to be picking one thing and being really into/good at it, that’s never been my style. Let me tell you, I’m moderately proficient at a TON of things. You could say that it’s the one thing I’m really good at! Adapting, jumping in, learning quickly and then… plateauing or moving on? Sometimes, yes. And that’s ok.

If you’re like me, you love trying new things. Experience and adventure are a big part of my values. From an exercise perspective, I’ve always been up for trying new ways to move and stay healthy — yoga, running, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, surfing, snowboarding, biking, spin class… So when ClassPass contacted me a couple months ago and asked if I would be interested in testing out a month, when they launched in Portland. Of course, I said “most definitely!”

ClassPass is a fitness startup where paying for their membership ($99/mo – *updated now $79/mo*) gets you a pass that you can use at many different fitness studios across the city. In Portland, that’s 27 studios (now 36) across the metro area. Excluding Beaverton and Vancouver, there are 21 (*updated: now 38*). Including: Body Mechanics, a-wol Dance Collective, Brilliant Body PDX, CorePower Yoga SE & NW, CrossFit Portland, Firebrand Sports, Fulcrum Fitness, Hush Meditation, MOD Physique, Pil-oga-robic, Portland Pilates Collective, Pure Barre, Revocycle, Skogg, StudioNia, The Art of Movement, The Bar Method, The Bhaktishop Yoga Center, Torque Strength and Conditioning, and Yoga Pod.

ClassPass Studios - Portland

ClassPass Review:

In 30 days, I completed 12 classes at seven studios. I tried out The Bar Method, Firebrand Sports, Fulcrum Fitness, Pure Barre, Yoga Pod, The Art of Movement, and Bhaktishop. It’s been really fun to try out different studios. Especially because after my last half marathon in August, I’ve taken a break from mostly running to focus on overall fitness – strength, yoga, cardio etc. I had been exercising about 30 minutes a day 5-6 days a week.

What’s been really fun about my ClassPass challenge is that I’ve upped my workouts to an average of 45-60 minutes 5-6 days/week. I find it too time intensive to be galavanting all across town every day to a fitness class. I have been doing 2-3 classes a week, and then at-home yoga, barre, strength, cardio, biking or running the rest of the days.

Here’s what you’ll love about ClassPass:

  • Dabble – want to go to more than one studio? Yes! (eg. it’s not just a yoga or crossfit membership). It’s like online dating for fitness studios!
  • Are you already going to one of these gyms? – If you already have a monthly membership at one of the included studios, sign up for ClassPass! Here’s their map of participating studios in Portland. Even if you’re currently doing a few drop-in classes, it’s probably worth it for you.
  • Mix up your routine – want to mix up your fitness routine (hello, New Year’s goals).
  • Spendy classes included – while a lot of yoga studios seem to have cheaper drop-in rates or some happy hour rate times ($5-8), or gyms offering punchcards packs, some of my favorite included classes were ones I wouldn’t be dropping in to at $20-25 a pop anyway. Think: barre and group fitness/crossfit type classes.
  • Website and Google Calendar integration – While I’ve included a few things that would make the website a bit easier on the wishlist below, it’s super easy to use, especially compared to a lot of these studios individual websites. I’m also a Google Calendar devotee, so having the one-click “Add” button after booking a class kept me on schedule and saving time.

Here’s what you won’t love about ClassPass:

  • You can only reserve some classes a max of one week out– this is not a deal-breaker, but if you want to get your schedule all set up a couple weeks ahead, you might have to set a reminder to check back so the class doesn’t fill up.
  • Availability – not all of the studios include every class they offer daily in ClassPass. For example, when I was looking to try out Bar Method they only had 1 class available on some days. This might also be because ClassPass just launched in Portland and they’re still getting things set up.
  • You can only take 3 classes per studio each month. If you wanted to have a weekly routine going – spin class every Monday night etc. – you would have to skip a week or pay a drop-in at the studio for that last week.
  • Travel – I spent about a week of my ClassPass trial in Maine. If I had been paying I would have wanted to pause my account or something. You can put your membership on hold for $19/month – and you’ll still get to book one class per month that it’s on hold.
  • Cancelation Fees – I have a no fee policy in my life. The potential to be charged a fee for something that I deem unreasonable adds stress to my life, so I just don’t participate. Thankfully, my ClassPass was complimentary. However, if I had not had a free pass, they would have had my credit card on file and I would have been charged a $20 fee for any missed class or class canceled within 24 hours. I can see how it would be a problem for studios if you were a chronic canceler, but sometimes things come up. If I were a studio owner, I think I would rather know that someone wasn’t coming 5 hours ahead of time than just have a no-show. Perhaps there could be 2 cancels a month included or something? (*updated: now you can cancel 12 hours before*)

ClassPass Classes

ClassPass Feature Wishlist:

  • I would love to see a ClassPass app (*updated: yay! There’s an app now*)
  • Adding more studios around Portland, especially outside the Pearl District and inner SE core would be great.
  • Email consolidation – Each class I booked sent a few more emails rolling in to my inbox – confirmation, reminder etc. It would have been nice if they were consolidated – “Your classes this week” etc. or the ability to disable the reminder emails
  • Saving your neighborhood location preferences on the Classes Search page. Every time I was searching for a class, I had to set my neighborhood to include NE, Downtown only etc. (ie. I will never drive to Vancouver or Beaverton).
  • Class cancelation fees – as mentioned above – there should be a bit more grace here.

The Verdict:

ClassPass is a super fun fitness pass. It’s also exciting to see a startup like this grow and partner with some really quality gyms and studios. Will I be a monthly subscriber? No. I’m too much of a dabbler to commit to that. I will be using it in the future though, probably in one month increments when I need to mix up my fitness routine. Here’s why: First, I don’t feel the need to pay $99/month to stay fit. Looking at my Mint.com account, over the last 2 years, I’ve spent an average of $20-30 per month on fitness. That includes race entries, gear (running shoes, yoga blocks, socks etc), and classes (YogaGlo online or drop-in yoga etc). That doesn’t include travel (SeaWheeze Half was in Vancouver) or outdoor fun activities (kayak rental for camping, SUP rental etc.).

I’m comfortable with a $20-30 monthly fitness “budget”, as it keeps me creative, but also trying new things. Since ClassPass price is a few months worth of my self-imposed fitness budget, I would plan to spend a few months of freebie training outside and then splurge on a month.

For example: there’s a new yoga studio opening in my neighborhood this month that I purchased a 2 week unlimited pass for. My January plan is to do two weeks of yoga classes, Nike Training Club workouts (NTC app), with a little bit of running. February might consist of free workouts and I’ll bank my budget for a future month. March might be a race entry.

The earliest I’ll be trying ClassPass again would be March or April – to break up my fitness routine before the sun comes out for summer. Come summer, I’ll be running outside – it’s free! And then maybe indoor classes again in the fall.

Have you tried a fitness pass like ClassPass?

Note: ClassPass provided me with a free 30-day trial account. Sign up with this link and you’ll get $50 in ClassPass credit added to your account (ends January 18, 2015).

1 Comment

  • Looks pretty sweet. I like the idea of trying out a bunch of different things to find out what you like best.