My name is Alberto Ortiz. I’m the founder and owner of Work Train Fight, which has been around since 2009.
I’ve been successful in the fitness industry since before the Class Pass era (probably one of the few) and have seen how it’s changed the landscape of the industry. Work Train Fight has been with Class Pass since 2013, and now I am parting ways with them.
When reading this post, please imagine that you are a NYC gym-owner, who has sacrificed everything to create a place that educates, empowers and brings people together. I do not have tons of investors, partners or venture capitalist money, I’m just another flawed human trying to figure it out on the go.
Here are my 8 reasons why Work Train Fight left Class Pass…
1) They Came in Like a Wrecking Ball: Back when Class Pass first launched I was JUST finding my groove in regards to memberships. I had just expanded the gym space and created a new boxing studio so I no longer had to have classes out on the main floor. However, here comes this new thing called Class Pass (actually they were previously called Classivity) and with them comes this insane offer of “unlimited classes in NYC’s top fitness studios for only $99.” I didn’t stand a fu*king chance, and within months our membership base dropped by 50% to join Class Pass. I had no choice, but to put WTF on Class Pass. There was no other way I was going to survive at the time.
2) Commit to Nothing: The Class Pass ideology promotes constant change, “don’t be bored, workout somewhere new everyday.” Basically, it opposes the characteristics needed to be successful in anything, including fitness: being committed, tough and focused. Initially, when Class Pass reached out to studios, their pitch was, “oh, you will get a lot of exposure,” and yes, this was true, except what good is exposure if the culture preaches never staying in one place? I would be lying if I said some current members did not originally find us on Class Pass, however this is bigger than that. We need to start caring about the message we’re sending the world: “Hey, try a lot of different shit, but be a master of none.”
3) The Entitlement: Trying different fitness modalities is great, except when in WTF’s case, boxing is a tough activity to just TRY. So when a Class Pass user feels inadequate at an authentic boxing and strength training class, there’s a much higher chance that they will leave a shitty review and judge us based on their sole visit. About 90% of our negative reviews in recent years have come from Class Pass users. The universal membership led Class Pass users to believe they were fitness gurus, but they definitely weren’t. AND PLEASE DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE SHITTY CLASS PASS FITNESS BLOGGERS WHO JUDGE YOUR LIFE’S WORK WHILE THEY THEMSELVES HAVE NO BUSINESS AND NO FITNESS EXPERIENCE. TALK ABOUT ENTITLEMENT.
4) No Money, No Honey: During our 4 years with Class Pass, WTF only got a $1 raise. That would be ok, if expenses were to go up at the same rate and NYC real estate wasn’t SO DAMN HIGH. I get it though, it’s not like they raised their fees… oh wait they did…numerous times. We don’t nickel and dime: we offer complimentary towels, free boxing gloves and don’t force members to buy wraps. We have water fountains, 55-minute classes and hands-on educated instructors. Not to mention 10 showers, full gym access before and after class, and much much more. We are worth more than a $0.25 raise a year.
5) Premium Rip Off: Like I said earlier, the original Class Pass pitch to studios was they would expose our facility to new clients who can only come in via Class Pass 3x per month. Then they launched the “Premium” option, allowing Class Pass users to buy discounted classes to your studio once they hit their monthly limit. At first “Premium” was optional for studios, then I was told if you’re gonna be on Class Pass it’s mandatory. There was nothing I could have done. Their original pitch was no longer valid, the one thing we were banking on was stripped away.
6) Class Pass Labor: I have custom-built software because my business isn’t a basic bitch. That being said, managing Class Pass users with our interface has been challenging. I’ve spent tons of money on my custom software, but still had to manage the Class Pass software and copy and paste names into my software for EVERY class. As much as I pleaded for a way too link our softwares and letting them know I have my own software team, I wasn’t a big enough fish for them to be bothered. Cool, I got you bro.
7) The Rise of the SHITTY Gym: Competition is good for business, keeps us on our toes and makes me focus. However, the Class Pass era heralded a surge of new shitty fitness companies. You know what I’m talking about, the ones in the crappy space they rent hourly. These businesses mainly survive on Class Pass revenue, and would have never survived before Class Pass. There was a rise of unnecessary competition that lowered fitness standards, and I no longer want to be on the same platform with joe shmoe fitness who doesn’t really care about their product, and is only in it for the money.
8) Wear and Tear: If 20% of Class Pass sessions were converted to normal pricing, I would break even with a fraction of the hassle. So instead of having 1,000 signups, I prefer to have 200 signups at a higher price-point because the payout is just a tad less, but expenses go down because of lower towel usage, less locker room clutter, less stress on instructors and overall less wear and tear on the gym. Also, it’s better for my sanity.
I don’t want to say all bad things about Class Pass, their studio management team was always nice to me. My beef isn’t with the good people who work there. It’s just, after a certain point, you have to know your worth. WTF is more than just another boutique studio. For our members, we are a second home.
Grumpy Business Owner