Catherine shares her one-month experience on ClassPass
Already available in New York. Los Angeles, Boston, and Chicago, ClassPass launched last week in Washington, D.C. ClassPass hit San Francisco by storm in August. In the land of the start-up, ClassPass had the city jumping at the chance to tour and support the boutique gyms and fitness studios that generally require dedicated membership at each respectively. Now we all had an excuse to check out a studio or a class that we had been meaning to. Hate the gym? Like to mix up your fitness routine? Shopping for a new studio to call home? ClassPass is for you. Read on for my experience on ClassPass and my visits to studios around the city.
How It Works:
You are allotted 10 classes in your first trial month and unlimited classes for $99 per month following. You can attend up to 3 classes at one studio.
- Pros: You can constantly change up your workouts. With the variety of similar studios (TRX, boot camp, yoga, Pilates, barre, etc.), you can find several studios to take class with to fulfill your monthly fitness goals. Their team adds studios every week, so there is always a new class to try.
- Cons: If you love one studio, 3 classes is probably not enough, and you’ll have to pay out of pocket on top of your monthly membership. Plus you may feel like you’re constantly the new person which can be tiresome when all you want to do is unwind after a day of work.
Booking is easy. You can sort by day, time, neighborhood, and type of workout. With two clicks, you’re set for your upcoming class. However, that means that must plan to get to each studio about 15 minutes early for your first visit there to fill out a registration form and sign a waiver. Also note that popular classes fill up fast (there is a limited amount of spaces per class for ClassPass clients), so it’s important to plan ahead.
With those tips in mind, your experience should be seamless. If you’re looking for a place to start in San Francisco, here are my recommendations.
If you’ve always admired the performers flying high…
Aspen Aerials Beginner Aerials
Fittingly located above the Kryolan makeup company (they specialize in heavy stage makeup), Aspen Aerials is a large open one-room studio with three hanging silks waiting to be played on. It was the first time I was asked to sign a waiver when I actually felt the need to read the contract throughly (my feet were leaving the ground and an accident seemed possible). Before I could run away, class started with a 15-minute warm-up and stretch to limber up before getting on the silks. Our instructor Anastasia, a former dancer, was extremely personable (I guess you have to be when you’re teaching a small group of 4 people). She spent time with each of us to patiently explain and demonstrate moves and gave us the freedom to practice without her watching us. I think it was her ability to make each move sound so simple that gave me the courage to actually try and nail each one, because I am not daring and I tend to be more of a spectator in these situations. While I left with sore hands and feeling a little motion sickness, I was proud of myself for taking on the new challenge and plan to return someday… if only for a good picture or two.
What I Learned: I can trust myself to do what my mind tells me I can’t; I am stronger than I think.
If your body is bored of your barre class…
Avant-Barre Signature Class
Leave your attitude at the door, unless it’s a back attitude with one arm raised. Avant-Barre is the fun and functional fitness class for anyone who wishes they were still a dancer (and for dancers looking for extra conditioning). While attending any barre class regularly can make you better at that particular iteration of barre, it often doesn’t translate beyond that studio. I may appear to be biased, but I really have tried every major barre form out there at this point, and I have never loved working out as much as I do at Avant-Barre. What’s not to love about a dynamic instructor armed with changing choreography and an excellent playlist? When I started taking classes at Avant-Barre, I had little to no lower ab power, and now after going to Avant-Barre regularly for over three months, I have gained core strength that helps me work harder and better at all other fitness classes. For the first time in my life I feel brave enough to try other types of exercise because my entire body actually feels stronger. Call me crazy, but I feel like taking a ballet class again after 5 years is no longer out of reach because of Avant-Barre.
What I Learned: I can work out every day and actually look forward to it.
If you ever wanted to be a dancer but never had the courage to take a class…
Cardio Barre Beginner
Despite my intro, do not take this class without first taking a form-focused barre class. There is no regard for form or technique at Cardio Barre, so there is plenty of opportunity to injure yourself. It’s not worth it! With that out of the way, treat it the way you would a yoga class (irony here is that it’s the complete opposite), and by that I mean do what feels right for your body. If the teacher is telling you to do one-leg calf raised double time and you feel like you might break your ankle, you would be wise to do them at a more normal speed. With all of that said, the class is extremely high energy, 80% of the music they play is great, and your heart rate remains high throughout class so for someone who doesn’t do traditional cardio I was glad to get some in in a way more enjoyable for me than a run.
What I Learned: There’s a barre workout for everyone. This wasn’t for me, but I know other people (mostly those who never danced) do.
If you want to build muscle fast but weight training isn’t your thing…
Mint Studios Reformer Pilates
This may be the only workout that I would actually prefer to attend with a buddy, because the intensity calls for an encouraging support. While the studio is out of the way in an almost-sketchy part of SoMa, the space itself is bright and lovely. Tall windows allow as much sunshine as is available in San Francisco to flow in, and a white lattice wall serves for privacy between the waiting area and the reformers. This workout is not for the weak; it requires arm and core strength, not to mention coordination… and form, if you don’t want to look like an awkward idiot. Pop music plays in the background, but no moves are choreographed to their rhythm. Looking back, I think choosing my own music would’ve helped motivate to push myself harder. Think of it like working with a personal trainer at the gym. I have a feeling each session will get more “comfortable,” i.e. I will worry less and less about getting into proper form and can spend more time making each rep count; the good news is each move works so deeply into the muscle that you only have to do 10 or so reps. I left the session knowing I’d gotten a good workout, and I felt it for the next two days in my arms.
What I Learned: I can push through more intensity than I thought I could.
If you want to push hard and cool down in the same place…
OMPower Flow Yoga
Owner Jennifer Kartiganer is the OG of boutique fitness in SoMa, and she and her right-hand woman Devine Hardy are two of the most supportive women in the community so it’s been on my to-do list to visit their studio for months. Their large space includes a spin studio and an open airy yoga studio with floor to ceiling windows (so you can go from one class to the next to pump cardio then stretch it out for one hour—great for anyone who thinks a more traditional length is too long). This was along the lines of a yoga class I have been looking for. While the instructor Stephanie didn’t greet each of us personally, she did a great verbal introduction reminding us that each of us should focus on ourselves, our breath, and our own practice that day. The class was clearly a range of semi-beginner to advanced yogi, and Stephanie offered many modifications and options to cater to everyone. The class was full, but the room wasn’t packed which helped in finding a beautiful collective “Om” while the space didn’t feel crowded. An idyllic setting for calming yoga in an urban neighborhood, OMPower is calling me back for more.
What I Learned: Yoga really is good for the soul, and I need to make a better effort to practice regularly.
If you hate traditional cardio but know you need to get your heart rate up…
Sweat Republic Surfset
I never surfed but I now feel like I can. The space itself is very casual—a front desk in the corner with a couple chairs for waiting are the only things separating the greeting area from the workout space. It suits the energy of the classes that take place there. The disco lights that are on for the “surf” portion of class adds to the entertainment. Surfset is 1 hour spent mostly on the Surfset board (some of the warmup happens standing on the floor and a cardio set that happens running in place next to it). Our instructor Jason was great, the music was energetic, and the class was challenging in a different way (balance, coordination, and cardio). They offer a Surf and Turf class which is half TRX, so you could actually get an all-in-one. Overall, perfect way to start a Sunday!
What I Learned: Cardio CAN be fun.
If traditional yoga turns you off but you want the benefits of the stretch…
United Body Yoga
If you hate a slow granola yoga class you should try this one. Set in a TRX gym, so walking in already feels different. This was my unknowing introduction to power yoga, so it felt more fitness-focused than the lengthening practice I usually expect. The instructor didn’t explain some of the poses well enough and offered no modifications, so unlike the personalize practice I was expecting I felt a little lost in an agenda that wasn’t in my best interest; the class also ended 7 minutes behind without any warning. However, she had a great voice, played good music, and finished the class with aromatherapy which tends to soften the blow of any negatives.
What I Learned: What I personally need from yoga is vinyasa. I like to strive for pretty poses, but if I feel like I need more of a challenge I will definitely turn to power.
*United Body has closed as of this week.
Classes on my To-Do List:
I didn’t have time to get to every studio in my first month, so here is what I’m eyeing for the next.
Barry’s Bootcamp: I can’t tell you how much the word “bootcamp” scares me, but there must be a reason behind people coming back again and again (and again).
Body Temp Yoga: Nothing about a heated fitness class speaks to me, but my friend swears by this studio so I may give it a shot one day.
CORE40: A class done on a top-of-the-line Pilates-type reformer, this class sounds more intense than I can normally handle… but you can do anything for 40 minutes, right?
The Pad: The studio looks lovely, and while their Reformer classes fill up faster than you can process, yoga is high on my list to try.
Rogue & Saint: Their Precision & Flow Pilates springboard class is on my radar.
Satori Yoga: This studio has a cult following, and now that they’re open for business in a new location I can’t wait to check it out.
Studiomix: The massiveness of the space (I got to check it out recently) and the variety of offerings and energy flowing from everyone there is surprisingly contagious.
Have you tried ClassPass? What exercise classes are on your list to try?
*I tried ClassPass gratis for one month.