ClassPass has for years cannibalized local fitness studios’ customers: Exercisers who might otherwise pay $100-$250 in monthly studio membership fees instead drop in to local studios with ClassPass reservations, sometimes paying as little as $4 a class—which is split between ClassPass and the studio. Owners of small studios complain of plummeting class prices, crippled income, and little negotiating power with the unicorn tech app.
But now most of the 30,000 studios on ClassPass’s platform are shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As CEO Fritz Lanman told subscribers this morning, that puts “the livelihood of their businesses and their instructors in jeopardy.” And, um, the livelihood of ClassPass. As a result, ClassPass is now offering:
- Live-streamed classes with local instructors, 100% of the proceeds of which will go to partners
- A donation option to favorite local fitness studios, which ClassPass will match up to $1 million
- Purchases of studio class packs and gift cards, to be used in the future
But. There’s a but. ClassPass is also offering account holders free access to its own library of 2,000 sleekly produced video and audio workouts. This will surely undermine its efforts to funnel funding to studios, because subscribers—even those with paused ClassPass accounts—can instantly access everything from yoga to boxing to running to HIIT classes.
ClassPass is no stranger to changing its business model. Its $99 monthly unlimited class pass was increased to $125 per month, and then $200 per month, and then canceled, infuriating frequent exercisers. The company has also repeatedly tinkered with agreements with studios and details such as caps on customer visits to studios.
Update, Wednesday 9:20 p.m:
ClassPass sent the following statement, saying it took issue with the idea that it cannibalized exercise studios and that it has been “focused on how we can best support the fitness and wellness community” since the coronavirus outbreak began. It also said it has been waiving its commission:
“Today, ClassPass made an unprecedented move for an aggregator, committing to sending 100% of revenue back to partners who have shuttered their physical locations. We are already on pace to pay out millions of dollars to our studio partners for their livestream classes, with zero commission taken. It is our hope that this tremendous mobilization of resources on our part will help our partners stay in business–and help millions of people stay active and healthy while practicing safe social distancing.”