Payal Kadakia

For taking the sweat out of finding fitness classes.

Payal Kadakia is serious about fitness, but she often had problems finding space in classes where she could pursue her passion. So, in 2013, she created ClassPass, an app- and web-based service that for $99 a month lets users sign up for unlimited sessions at participating fitness and dance studios. ClassPass will be in every major U.S. market by the end of 2015 and will include more than 10,000 locations. Fans of ballet, barre, and boot-camp-style workouts have used the app to attend more than 2 million classes so far. “I wanted to make it easier for other people to find this mind-body connection,” says Kadakia. “To know that we’ve gotten that many people to go and do something is amazing.”


Bonus Round

Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?

Movement inspires a lot in me. I love music. Sometimes it’s even going for a run; it definitely inspires creativity.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

I check my phone. I go for a run. And I drink green tea every morning.

What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?

We all wear workout clothes to work every day–and there’s a lot of candy around.

How have you handled your company’s rapid growth?

You make sure to set True Norths for your company. You can’t be involved in every decision and every meeting; you have to make sure the mission is very built into the culture, the product, and how you communicate. We have operating principles–growth, efficiency, and positivity–that people get the first day they’re there. I do hiring lunches with every person so they understand the full story of ClassPass.

What’s your favorite Twitter or Instagram account and why?

I love motivational things, so on Twitter, the entrepreneurial ones: Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra. On Instagram I look at my [design director], Rashi Birla. She’s one of the most creative people I know and inspires a lot of creativity in me. We still perform together in Sa Dance (the Indian dance company Kadakia founded), and have very good chemistry. I love looking at my friends’ accounts, too. It’s my way of being involved when I’m very busy.

How do you keep track of everything you have to do?

I am anal about my Gmail calendar. It’s my life. I put everything in there–my to-do list, or even if I want to do things. If I have to make lists, I make them as a composed message on my Gmail because I know that’s always with me. I also have an office assistant who changed my life. My day gets very busy really quickly but I also try to block in space for creative thinking, which I’m trying to learn to get out of the office for. I sometimes even go to a class in the middle of the day to get my brain thinking.

How many classes do you attend a week?

I work out once a day. When I’m in a massive dance show mode, I’ll probably be active for about 20 hours each week. I crave movement so I go to a handful of classes every week.

What’s your favorite?

I have so many favorites. I love PatriciaFit. She’s kind of my personal trainer; she has a barre class in New York City.


About the author

Erin Schulte is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in Fast Company, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Entrepreneur, among other publications. You can find her on Twitter @erin719nyc.