ClassPass hikes membership fee in New York; will members bolt?

- Staying in shape isn't cheap. So when ClassPass came around three years ago, New Yorkers signed up in droves for the unlimited exercise classes for one flat monthly fee. But that fee has been steadily increasing. The latest price hike has members ready to jump ship.

At ANYA in the Flatiron District, more than a thousand different customers every month pay to take classes in Pilates, yoga, and Antigravity.

Looking to attract what he described as "mainstream customers," ANYA CEO Nathan Schell listed his studio on ClassPass, a service offering members an unlimited number of exercise classes between thousands of boutique fitness studios across the country.

"We have a larger demographic now than what we did previously," he said.

But on Wednesday, ClassPass announced it planned to nearly double the price of its unlimited plan in New York City and unveiled two lesser plans. The new fees: $190 per month for existing members and $200 for new members for the unlimited plan. A 10-class plan is $125 for existing members ($135 for new) and the 5-class plan is $75.

"We have to evolve our business model and adjust prices in order to create long-term sustainability with both our members and the market," the company CEO said in a statement.

"It has more cons than it has pros for us," Schell said.

"It's definitely encouraging me to cancel it," one member said.

"I think it's pretty excessive," another member said. "I'm in grad school right now so it really pushes it out of my price point and I don't think it's worth it anymore."

"Usually when they lose members, we lose customers as well," Schell said.

Even at 200 bucks a month, ClassPass more than pays for itself if you attend just three classes a week. But that doesn't answer why these boutique exercise studios charge so much money in the first place.

"A yoga studio, the one I like in the West Village, is about $110 a month," one person told us.

"Working out and staying healthy is really expensive," said another.

Especially, if one chooses to work out and stay healthy at one of the 900 New York City exercise studios listed on ClassPass.

Schell expects ClassPass to continue to grow and plans to continue to use the site to attract those mainstream customers to ANYA. But he worries smaller studios offering just one type of fitness class will struggle if the ClassPass price increase leads to an exodus of its members.

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