When I first heard about ClassPass, it only existed in New York. (Or at least that was my impression in the first article I read.) The idea seemed pretty simple: members pay a flat fee for access to classes, studios (and gyms and boutique fitness places) listed only the classes they knew they would not fill with their own members. Each studio got to choose which class and time slot to list, and how many spaces they would offer. Since these were spaces that would otherwise go empty, having a ClassPass member there meant some income–not the full price of the class, but not $0 either. Since ClassPass members could only attend 2 classes at the same location per month, they would have to pay full price to the studio for a third class in the same month; maybe they even liked it so much that they decided to join the studio. I signed up for their email updates, followed them on social, and thought this system was a brilliant win-win-win: win for the studios (making money on what would otherwise be empty spots), win for the students (getting classes at a discount), and win for ClassPass (making money by connecting the two). It seemed easier than organizing a Groupon, with less work for the studio.
Like most tech and tech-related businesses, ClassPass was heavily subsidized by outside investors (venture capitalists, etc.) and did not make a profit for several years. That didn’t bother me, as lots of companies start out that way.
When ClassPass first started offering California options, I was living in Oakland and I jumped on it immediately. In a region where a single class might cost $30 and a monthly membership was $150 and up, the flat-fee, all-you-can-eat ClassPass was a dream! While I don’t remember the exact price, it was definitely under $100. Even if I only took 4 classes each month, I was totally scoring a deal. Plus ClassPass offered flexibility: I could go to Pilates on Monday, spin on Tuesday, yoga on Wednesday, HIIT on Thursday, all at different locations. I could take a class on one night when was able to get into San Francisco after work. I could use ClassPass when traveling in other cities (ideal and better for me than a single studio location because I was on the road for work A LOT). Also, I can’t lie, the $20 “flake fee” (for not showing up to a class you booked) kept me getting out and working out. I followed ClassPass on social, tagged them in my Insta photos, and was generally a gigantic fan.
From Unlimited to an Allowance–Both Ways.
I was still a member when ClassPass changed to a “credit” system. Basically instead of unlimited classes you now had a credit allowance to spend. More popular classes at better times cost more credits, and less popular classes at what I consider “awkward” times cost fewer credits. So the same class with the same teacher might be 2 credits at 3:00 p.m. and 9 credits at 6:30 p.m. I’m not sure exactly when this change took place, but I didn’t mind. They also introduced multiple
While putting members on a “credits allowance” (potentially fewer classes per month), ClassPass also removed “allowance” of only 2 classes per month at the same studio. I don’t remember exactly, but I think you had to pay a small premium to take a third (or fourth, or fifth) class at the same location. (I never did.) Since those additional classes still cost less than buying a membership to any single studio, plenty of people took advantage of this to pay ClassPass less than they would pay their local yoga studio, spin studio, etc. for a monthly membership–with none of the hassles of trying to cancel a studio membership.
Around this time (the switch to a credit system), I later learned that ClassPass changed how studios added class spots. ClassPass began to require studios to add spots, and then add more spots, and more spots in their “prime time” classes–the ones that the studios knew they could easily fill with their own members or students buying class packs or punch cards. This meant that instead of using ClassPass ONLY to fill slots that otherwise would go empty, ClassPass was pressuring studios to add slots that were normally full. In other words, ClassPass was asking studios to voluntarily take a loss on spots in their most popular classes. This seemed obnoxious, but maybe it was a reasonable price for the benefits of having so many new students come in through the door?
At some point near or after this, ClassPass also started adding gyms to the app. Instead of booking a single class at a studio, you could book an hour of time at their partner gyms. I’m not sure how this worked (did the front desk chase you out after an hour?) but it seemed like a good way for gyms to fill their extra space as well.
I just learned that in 2018 ClassPass had started to experiment with an algorithm called SmartRate to identify how much to pay studios for each spot. My understanding is that at first, this was optional, but eventually you’ve got to figure ClassPass could force studios to join (at the end of the current contract, for example). According to Vice (article linked below), the pay to a studio per class spot was as low as $7. They also started pushing something called SmartSpot, which would decide which classes (and how many spots) to allocate to ClassPass, supposedly also promising to NOT take spots from classes that studios were also filling. Now students aren’t idiots, and when you’re paying $20-30 for a class and the person next to you is paying $10 for the class, that doesn’t seem very fair, does it? It only makes economic sense that some students bailed out of their studio memberships and signed up with ClassPass, paying less to keep attending the same classes.
In December 2019 (see Vice article) studios were told that the SmartSport and SmartRate would become mandatory. In order to keep up with a new California law, ClassPass also issued a new policy that prevented studios from using ClassPass members’ contact information. This was a huge sea change, as when ClassPass started, studios could use a ClassPass visitor’s email and phone number to add them to their mailing list, offer a new member special, and otherwise try to “convert” a ClassPass attendee into a studio member (or a person paying the studio directly for classes). Now one of the major benefits of ClassPass–“lead generation,” or finding people who might become future customers–was gone.
And Then We Had A Pandemic.
To be fair, ClassPass did not cause the pandemic. It seems a little unfair though, that ClassPass has survived just fine (and was just acquired, the dream of every tech start-up) while many of their studio partners (and other similarly-situated fitness businesses) have not not.
During the pandemic, when many studios were forced to close, ClassPass froze memberships (no charges for members and no new credits). They also made the ClassPass streaming classes free for everyone. (I don’t remember when those started, or whether you could buy a streaming-only membership pre-pandemic.) While this seemed like a pretty awesome thing to do, it was also very practical: no one likes to be charged for a service they cannot use, and while everything was closed it wasn’t possible to spend credits.
This kindness shown to ClassPass subscribers, however, was not extended to ClassPass member studios, all of whom are now stuck with the “Smart” tools controlling their income and available slots.
But before I go there, let’s take stock of what happened to fitness facilities while we were all busy with “stay at home.” While things were shut down I’m sure you watched many small businesses panic. One of my own yoga teachers was extremely frustrated about the closure of her physical studio, wanting to teach her classes to her students in-person–hey, we all want that, right? Unfortunately workout spaces are pretty perfect for spreading an airborne virus: most have fans or vents that blow directly on people which is a huge no-no and HVAC systems they do not own/manage/maintain so they cannot adjust air exchanges per hour or up the MERV rating on the filtration–two things that are actually effective in preventing spread. (All that wiping and sanitizing? Well that’s LONG overdue in a sweaty environment where dude-bros don’t wipe down the equipment, but COVID isn’t spread by fomites; primary transmission is through the air.) Confirmed spread of COVID happened at yoga studios and cycling studios (though none of them local to me). In Portland I watched as multiple yoga studios closed their doors. For some, the pandemic was their landlord’s last tool to push them out of unprofitable leases in now-gentrified neighborhoods. A few are now “studio-free” yoga studios, holding classes here and there and in public spaces and temporary homes. Others just shut their doors. The pain wasn’t limited to yoga studios, of course. CityRow Portland opened in 2019 and did not survive the pandemic. There are empty storefronts where I used to see personal training gyms. You get the picture.
When ClassPass “unfroze” memberships, members still had the option to “press pause,” I did that (and I have 44 credits banked for when the risks of indoor exercise are lower than they are right now with the Delta variant still circulating). Eventually I
How Will Studios “Bounce Back” After COVID?
Frankly, many of them won’t.
I’m a certified personal trainer (NASM), group ex instructor (ACE plus specialties), and yoga teacher (RYT 200 with many more hours of teacher-specific training). I have friends who teach, and who own studios and gyms; they are struggling. Even those that received some COVID-related small business aid may not survive in the current reality (public health and the economy). Many of us are not ready to go sweat it out indoors in a group, especially when mask compliance is spotty (lots of chin diapers and nose-dicking going on) and I haven’t found any place that either requires all attendees to be fully-vaccinated OR has overhauled their HVAC system to meet the CDC and ASHRAE recommendations, so I’ll be working out at home and outside.
My insurance (through work) offers discounted ClassPass credits and free livestream ClassPass classes, but I’m not buying any ClassPass credits until I start to see studios consistently benefitting from ClassPass by earning more dollars per student. ClassPass will be just fine without me–studio scheduling software behemoth MindBody just bought ClassPass (valued at a billion dollars, billion-with-a-b, in October 2021 according to TechCrunch).
To paraphrase the NYT (link below) We need to support small businesses if we want to see them thrive, instead of relying on an app to subsidize the lifestyle we want to have. When I return to indoor exercise, I’ll be paying studios directly. Will you?
Disclosure: I’m sharing these resources because I want to encourage you to STAY HOME. The links provided below are not affiliate links. I am a paid subscriber of some of these services, but I’m not getting any kick-back or brownie points or whatever for sharing about them. I have not excluded services I haven’t tried.
As of Wednesday last week, I was kinda non-plussed about people fleeing the gym. For one, COVID-19 isn’t transmitted through sweat. For two, at least at a gym I have access to wipes (unlike at the grocery store). Here’s the thing though, if you are going to go to a gym–and really, you shouldn’t–“be under no illusion. These are places where germs and bacteria of all kinds can thrive[.]” That’s true of the gym, that’s true of your CrossFit box, that’s true of every flavor of studio from aerial to zumba.
Initial steps are NOT enough to protect you. My inbox has been aflutter with emails during the past week, promising extra deep-cleaning of the studio, asking people to bring their own yoga mats and props (offering discounts to help people acquire these), limiting class size, spacing the in-use reformers and megaformers further apart, and more. It is really tough for a small business to close, especially when they have staff and teachers they are worried about. But these measures are not enough, and even the ordinarily irrelevant Yoga Alliance has recommended studios close.
Using lots of wipes is NOT enough. As you should know, the COVID-19 virus is primarily spread by “droplets.” Like when a person who has the virus coughs. Here’s what we know:
Asymptomatic people can spread the virus. This means you can give the virus to other people before you know you have it. It takes 2-14 days before you start to show symptoms.
Today I’m focused on streaming fitness. That’s anything online, or available via Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, Amazon Prime or Amazon Fire. (Initially I said I wasn’t doing apps, but some streaming services are also apps, so…yeah, I started to add them in.)
Support Small Businesses First
Yes, there are some large corporately-structured gyms and studios. Please remember that many of these that you see as “big corporations” are actually franchises–meaning your local location is owned by an individual member of your community (or a small business). I am not personally familiar with what type of financial assistance or relief is available to franchisees, but I do know that many of them will be forced to shut their doors.
Speaking of shutting their doors, yoga and fitness studios are taking a hit. If your local studio is closed, please support them if you can. This means (1) supporting and sharing any online offerings, and (2) keeping your membership active, even if there are no classes to attend. If you’re taking a hit financially and can’t afford to help, no worries. If you’ve got $5 or $20 and appreciated the option, please support your local and other small-businesses.
Free Options on Social
Instagram. Update (April 20): I cannot believe I didn’t include Instagram when I first write this post about a month ago. If you are active on Instagram, go follow the fitness studios, types, and brands that interest you most. Many are using Instagram Live to broadcast workouts from 10 minutes to 60 minutes long. Check out Flex & Flow, ButiYoga, and Modo Yoga, all of which go live on a pretty regular basis. Some studios (like Modo and its affiliates–like Modo Yoga Portland) post the daily schedule in advance. Others seem to just throw up a class here and there–but if you are following them, Instgram will notify you when they go live. If your local studio is doing this, please throw them some dollars if you are able? It helps to keep the lights on and keep their instructors paid.
YouTube. Since anyone can post here, the workout options are definitely a mixed bag; some are clearly trained exercise professionals, others are scary and dangerous. Most of the trainers and channels you’ve heard of (PopSugar fitness, Leslie Sansone, Les MIlls, anyone who has released a DVD series) have a decent offering from 10 to 60 minutes. Yoga with Adriene is a popular channel with good instruction and lots of options. Redefining Strength has shorter videos that focus on technique.
Facebook. If your local gym or studio has a facebook page, they might be using the “facebook live” feature to stream classes. These are generally also available as recordings.
Please Donate to Local Studio Offerings if You Are Able
Below are the free and low-cost options I am aware of as of Monday, March 16, 2020. If you know of others, please leave a comment. Due to my current schedule, I can’t promise to keep this updated. (I’ve been lightly-updating. Seriously, not enough hours in the day.) Currently I’ve identified my faves, and listed everyone else in alphabetical order (or close to it).
Small Studios/Local Fitness
Flex & Flow. This is a locally-owned yoga and HIIT studio in Portland, Oregon. During the closure, they are offering free livestreams via Instagram. Please donate if you can to help keep the teachers paid and the studio open. https://www.fitapproach.com/ffy for details BTW: my friends own this studio, and while I’m not a member, it’s a Top Pick.
The Craft of Teaching Yoga/Yoga with Adrienne. Free online rituals. The first one is Wednesday March 18; follow them on Instagram and Facebook to find out about future options.
Derek Beres yoga. Equinox is closed, and Derek is offering live stream classes on his YouTube channel. Classes are free, donations are appreciated. Please find more details, including a schedule, here: http://www.derekberes.com/yoga/
Get creative. You do not need any gym, studio, or streaming service to get your workout on at home. Running on the Fly has some suggestions for you!
Hot Pot Studios. This is a locally-owned dance studio in Sacramento, CA. They currently have a dance class scheduled for Wednesday March 18 at 7:45 pm PDT. Here is their message: “Hey Y’all believers in Science who are staying home: We are getting our Dance Party on with an anti apocalypse I.T.S. Jam! @sarah_unmata Has set up the Virtual Classroom Join Sarah & April Via Zoom Classroom on Wednesday 3/18 $10 for one hour of Dance 7:45pm pacific time via PayPal Sign up by pm [see facebook link] or email April hollon verbatim at gmail dot com Where’s the money go? To cleaning supplies and the utility bills, helping the studio survive the social distancing. https://www.facebook.com/hotpotstudios/photos/a.150142574997245/3122173151127491/?type=3&theater
Love Hive Yoga. This is a locally-owned studio in Portland, Oregon that has responsibly shut the doors temporarily. Please check their website for updates on streaming classes and how to support them, and enjoy free videos until they can stream: https://www.lovehiveyoga.com/
Now Foods Ambassadors. NOW has compiled a range of workouts from their wellness ambassadors. You can find the collection here. All free. I’m generally a huge fan of Now Foods for making high-quality products at a reasonable price, and for supporting fitness challenges by Sweat Pink.
Soul Yoga. This is one of those small, local yoga studios that is closed. Like many studios, it is trying to jump online as fast as possible. Classes are free, but how about throwing in a donation so they can stay in business through this? https://www.soulyogafenton.com/online-content
The Yoga Space. This is a locally-owned studio in Portland, Oregon. They will be offering livestream classes at theyogaspace.live This is being offered as a free gift to the greater community for the first few weeks, and then will be made available as a benefit for members and for individual class purchase. Confirmed classes so far are Tuesday, 4pm PDT (Vinyasa with Allison Duckworth) and 6pm PDT (Intermediate Vinyasa with Ian LeMasters). The Yoga Space is posting updates on their Instagram account @theyogaspace
Below are a list of general online options to get your sweat on. Not all of these have a special deal going on, but they do have a free trial period. If you are clever, you can work out for free for quite some time before you commit to just one. These are presented in no particular order. If you usually support a local studio please go back when the threat of COVID-19 has passed!! Please note that streaming services sometimes offer coupons, discount codes, or other deals (e.g. subscribe for a year and save). I don’t have all that information for every service 🙂
Athletes for Yoga. In addition to the 14-day free trial, Athletes for Yoga is offering 50% off your first month. Essentially, you get 6 weeks for like $5. Here’s how to do it: go to athletesforyoga.com Use code HOMESTUDIO when you create your account. In addition, there’s a free recovery meditation here: https://video.athletesforyoga.com/videos/recovery-visualizationA Top Pick (I’m a member) for always unwinding my hips when I need it!
BUTI Yoga. This is not your mama’s yoga! Yoga with dance and other movement. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price is $39.99/month or $399.99/year. butiyoga.vhx.tv I wasn’t sure whether to put this under yoga or dance….
CorePower. This studio chain has an online service called CorePower On Demand. Regular membership is $19.99, though CorePower studio members have free access. A selection of classes are available for free each week.
Down Dog App. All of their programs are free until MAY 1 (extended from April 1). Programs are free for teachers and students (K-12 and college) until July 1. Programs are also free for healthcare workers until July 1. More information on the website. https://www.downdogapp.com/
Gaia. Offers a 1-week free trial. Regular price is $11.99/month. If you choose an annual membership, you pay $99 each year ($8.25/month). Gaia also offers a “Live Access” option at $299/year (or $24.92/month) with online workshops, live chats, and other benefits. Like Glo, there are lots of big-name teachers here. www.gaia.com
Glo.com. Formerly known as YogaGlo. Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular price sis $18/month when you register through glo.com or $22.99/month if you register through the Glo app (because then iTunes manages the subscription); you get the same content either way. Hosts a number of big-name/famous yoga teachers. www.glo.com
ROMWOD. Not technically yoga, but this seemed like the most appropriate category. ROMWOD means “range of motion workout of the day.” These are videos targeting range of motion, recovery, and strength. Free 7 day trial, regular price $13.95/month. (There is also a slightly more expensive “affiliate” membership option that allows for group streaming.)
Stretch Lab. This isn’t yoga at all, it’s literally stretching. Since it isn’t practical to have one-on-one stretching right now, and group stretches are also off the menu, they’ve moved to the Stretch Lab Go Facebook page. Follow the page for information on virtual events, and get your stretch on–some sessions are just 10-20 minutes. A strap and foam roller will be handy, if you have them.
Strala/Tara Stiles. If you’re not familiar with Strala, it’s like yoga with more emphasis on the movement in your body than the yoga poses. The library of free practices has meditation and movement. In addition, Tara is offering 50% off all classes. class series, and at-home retreats through the end of March. Use code PRACTICENOW at check-out.
Y7. This is a relatively new corporate yoga brand. They have both live and recorded classes available on Y7 Online. There is a 7-day free trial, after which membership is $16/month.
Yoga Download. If you go to the site a pop-up will offer you a free video. Unlike other sites, some of the Yoga Download classes are available to download, not stream. That means you get to keep them even if you cancel your subscription. Regular pricing is $12/month (2 downloads, unlimited streaming); $18/month (unlimited downloads); $120/year. They also offer 3-month and 6-month options. Easy to sort classes by style.
Yoga International. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price is approx. $20/month, though you can save up to 50% by paying for a year in advance. www.yogainternational.com
Peleton. I’m told the app is now free for 90 days (thanks, Jennifer!) for everyone, if you sign up by April 30. The app has a variety of classes, not just those for cycling, and not just those using a bike. There are now strength, yoga, outdoor running, etc. Here’s the website.
The Sufferfest. AltRed is sponsoring an additional free month. The Sufferfest is primarily a training tool for distance cyclists, but there are also a bunch of other videos including strength training and yoga for cyclists. To access a full six weeks, first download The Sufferfest. Then create your account to start your 14-day free trial. Next, go to Settings > Manage Subscription and choose the monthly subscription option. Enter promo code ALTREDSUF30 to get a free month (in addition to the 14-day free trial). Wile you do need to enter payment information for the code to activate, you won’t be charged if you cancel before the end of your free month (which is really six weeks).
Ballet Beautiful. One of the more expensive options, but rooted firmly in ballet (not “fitness”). This is the site of the professional ballerina and trainer who worked with Natalie Portman for Black Swan. There is a two week free trial, using code 2WTRIAL. (If you can’t make it work, try Instagram or Facebook, where they are running an ad for a 15 minute download class for free, and the two week free trial.) You you can get a discount on your first month with the code on the website (currently BBMARCH20). Regular price is $39.99/month. balletbeautiful.com
Barre3. I have a soft spot for Barre3 as it was created by a Portlander, who was affiliated with YogaWorks, and (most important!!) is a body-friendly, anatomically sane barre workout. You don’t need a barre to do the home workouts, though some incorporate small hand weights and props. If you’ve never tried it, there is a YouTube channel. The streaming service at barre3.com/trial for a 15-day free trial. Regular price is $29/month.
Blogilates. One of the original online Pilates workouts (and an app), still free. Sign up for Cassie’s email list to get a monthly workout calendar. She’s also made a special 14-day quarantine workout. Most of her videos are on the Blogilates YouTube channel as well.
Physique 57. You may have seen Physique 57 studios, or perhaps you caught the DVD package back in the day. Now they offer a streaming service with new classes added weekly. Offers a 7-day free trial. Regular price $24.99/month or $249/year (essentially 2 months free). ondemand.physique57.com
Pilates Anytime. Currently has 1,582 mat videos, 812 Reformer videos, and 193 Wunda Chair videos, among others (barre, small props, tower, and more). Offers a 15-day free trial. Regular price is $18/month. pilatesanytime.com
Pilates Interactive. This is a project of BASI Pilates. Unlike other sites, this is both written instruction and video. It is aimed at Pilates professionals (teachers and trainers) and includes breakdowns for the exercises. Offers a one month free trial. Regular price is $10/month for BASI Repertoire or Polestra Repertoire, $15/month for both. (Client management software is also an option.) I’m not a Pilates professional, but this looks like a screaming deal to me. pilatesinteractive.com
Pilates on Fifth. Like most Pilates options, this site has both equipment workouts and those that use no equipment. Also includes some barre, cardio, and strength-training. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular price $12.99/month or $129.99/year (includes some products with annual membership). pilatesonfifthonline,com
Pilatesology. Focused on classic Pilates, this site has both equipment workouts (e.g. Refomer) and non-equipment workouts. Offers a 16-day free trial. Regular price $20/month or $179/year. pilatesology.com
Sleek Ballet Fitness. Sleek is a ballet-based workout. Offers a 7-day free trial. Regular price is $19.99/month or $199.99/year.
Yoopod. Formerly known as “Pilates on Demand.” This service focuses on Pilates, yoga, and mindfulness practices. Offers a 14-day free trial. Regular prices are posted in British Pounds Sterling–you do the math. yoopod.com
Body Groove. Another dance-based workout, this one uses HIIT theory. Offering a 30-day free trial. https://www.startbodygroove.com/hiit.htm Regular price is $9.99/month or $59.99/year (basically half price if you choose the year membership).
Gym-style and mixed variety group exercise
Body FX. JNL Fitness and Figure 8 workouts, among others. I hesitate slightly to recommend this one, only because several years ago they were planning to launch an MLM to compete with BeachBody, and I don’t know if they will try to upsell you a bunch of supplements (they do make a protein powder) and nonsense (there’s a recipe for something called Sueperfood Detox Soup). Offers 30 days free, regular price is $11.99/month or $84/year. https://bodyfx.com/home-workout/
Centr. Who doesn’t want to work out with Chris Hemsworth?? HIIT, boxing, yoga, strength training, MMA. Offering six weeks free. Regular prices is $29.99/month, $59.99/3-months, $119.99/year. https://centr.com/join-us
City Row. The City Row studios (which to my knowledge are all franchises) are closed. They are posting workouts that require no equipment on their Instagram page; follow them at @cityrow for details. The City Row GO app (which is separate from the scheduling app) is free for a month with code 1MONTH_FREE. It has rowing workouts (in case you own a rower) as well as strength, yoga, and mobility. Psst! There is apparently a whole family of “[insert name here] GO” apps.
Daily Burn. A little bit of everything. Actually a LOT of everything. Whatever you like, they have it. Offers a 30-day free trial. Regular price is $19.99/month. dailyburn.com In March, they upgraded all members to premium, and changed the free trial to 60 days (both are temporary).
Get Healthy U TV. Started by Chris Freytag, with powerhouse Amy Dixon and others! Kickboxing, strength training, yoga, and more. A whole year is $9.99 right now (“regular” price is $59.99) https://go.gethealthyutv.com/a21445/
Grokker. Grokker is free through April 30. Classes include yoga, meditation, indoor cycling, pilates, and more. After April 30, regular price is $14.99/ month (and I’m sure there is a yearly subscription discount, I just can’t find it). grokker.com Grokker also added a COVID-19 Coronavirus Preparedness program that is FREE to everyone, and you don’t need a Grokker account to watch it.
Jari Love/Get Ripped. Jari is relasing free workouts via YouTube. You can find the workouts on her channel, starting with this one. The workouts require dumbbells/weights, and you can use a step or the floor. She also released “Slim and Lean” on Vimeo.
Jillian Michaels. Her fitness app offers a 7-day free trial. More information at https://www.jillianmichaels.com/ Note that Jillian offers nutritional advice that is sometimes way off the mark (at least in terms of evidence-based practice). She’s publicly pooh-poohed keto and vegan diets, and promotes misinformation about organic products. If you’re going to use her app for nutrition tracking, just be aware you might want to take her advice with a salt lick.
OpenFit. This one appears to offer specific programming both live and recorded. (If you’re wondering where gixo went, OpenFit bought it.) The programs are Xtend Barre, Xtend Barre Pilates, Rough Around the Edges, Yoga 52, 600 seconds, Tough Mudder T-Minus 30, and Sugar Free 3. I’m only familiar with Xtend Barre, which I personally recommend as one of the top barre programs for attention to form. Offers a 14 day free trial. Regular price is $96/year ($8./month), $60/6 months, or $39/3 months).
Pvolve. This is a streaming service that uses custom equipment, though I think you could hack most of it from other equipment (e.g. using a band instead of the gloves with the band). They offer a variety of packages of equipment and their streaming service. Whatever you do, do NOT pay full price. At any given moment I see at least a dozen different ads or influencer campaigns for 20% off. https://www.pvolve.com/
Redeem. I’m not personally familiar with this one, but the site does have some religious references that hint at Christian religion, and may make non-Christians uncomfortable or annoy them (e.g. a woman’s “God-given” beauty, being “faithful with our bodies”); the Instagram live currently also has a question about incorporating faith into fitness. It might be perfect for you. Use this sign-up form and REDEEM1 to get 30 days for free.
SCW On Demand. SCW produces the fitness Mania events where your teachers go to get their continuing education credits. Offerings include personal training type videos plus active aging, yoga, and aqua. $19.95 month-to-month; $9.95 with an annual commitment (but you pay one month at a time); $99/year (paid all at once). https://scwfit.com/store/on-demand/
Sissfit. Sisters Lauren and Kelly are offering free access to the Sissfit app (which they apologize is only available in iOS right now). Click here for 30 Days Free Access. (Offer is only for new users.)
Suzanne Bowen Fitness. I kinda love that you can click ‘surprise me’ and the site will choose a workout for you! This site also has a workout builder, and a collection of prenatal videos. Offers a 24-hour free trial. Regular price $14.99/month, $129.99/year, or $74.99/6-months. suzannebowenfitness.com
TRX. I haven’t seen any specials on the TRX app (yet). If you own a suspension trainer, sign up for their newsletter to receive free weekly workouts.
Gyms With On-Demand Programming
24-Hour Fitness. The 24GO app has the workouts you are used to seeing at the clubs. According to the website, that includes Les Mills, Zumba, yoga, and active aging programming. There is also a 24GO Live on YouTube. These options are currently free for members; as near as I can tell, they are also free for non-members.
Crunch Live. You know the gym chain called Crunch? This is their streaming service. If you belong to a Crunch gym, you can use this for free (unless you are on the base membership plan). Offers a 10-day free trial. Regular price is $9.99/month o $90/year. www.crunchlive.com
Gold’s Gym. The Gold’s Gym AMP app is currently free through the end of May if you use code FIT60. AMP has a collection of hundreds of video and audio-only workouts.
Lifetime Fitness. Workouts online, on demand, free for members and non-members. According to the site, new workouts are added daily. Choose from cardio, strength, yoga, cycle, family classes, and small group training.
Planet Fitness. A new “work-in” streamed live on the facebook page daily (4pm Pacific, 7pm Eastern). These then go to live on the Planet Fitness YouTube channel, where there’s a decent collection waiting for you.
YMCA. Free workouts on the YMCA: 360 page, including kids’ yoga and some basketball drills. Also has an assortment of pilates, kickboxing, boot camp, and more.
What did I miss? Drop a comment with what you are offering, or how you are supporting your trainers and teachers when their studios and gyms are closed!
Disclosure: Merrithew Health & Fitness sponsored Sweat Pink’s BlogFest at IDEA World Convention for several years, and I am thankful for their sponsorship and for the programming they provided. The prizes for this giveaway were provided to me by Merrithew Health & Fitness as part of Sweat Pink’s BlogFest with no strings, no compensation, and no requirements (e.g I was not asked to write a blog post, host a giveaway, or do anything else). The entire contents of this post, including all words and opinions, are my own honest opinions.
Hey, it’s time to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas! “Wait,” you may be asking, “wasn’t Christmas yesterday?” Indeed, it was! The Twelve Days of Christmas are actually the twelve days in between Christmas (the First Day of Christmas) and the day Christians celebrate as the day the magi (the three wise men/three kings) arrived, also called Epiphany. Traditionally, the last of the twelve days was the day you took down the Christmas decorations (I swear, I am not making this up). You know Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night? That’s about the twelfth night of Christmas. But enough of the history lesson…On the SECOND day of Christmas, I offer you this review and giveaway!
The Pilates Fitness Circle. If you’ve ever looked at a Pilates Fitness Circle and thought, “that’s a weird gadget that I can’t imagine doing much for me,” I’m with you—I used to think the same thing. (Pilates Fitness Circle Resistance Ring is a trademark of Merrithew Health and Fitness. You may also have seen a similar gadget called by another name: Pilates ring, magic circle, exercise circle, exercise ring.) Even in my Pilates classes, the Fitness Circle was largely used to help with body placement and awareness. It never occurred to me that the Fitness Circle had a role to play in athletic conditioning.
Workout. I took the DVD “Athletic Conditioning with the Fitness Circle” for a test drive, using the Fitness Circle lite. (The Merrithew Fitness Circle also comes in two other models, flex and Pro. Flex provides less resistance and has a unique handle design that differs from the lite and the Pro. Pro is similar in design to lite, but is made of steel instead of plastic; as a result, the price for the Pro is $65.00 while the price for the lite is $34.99. It’s also a bit heavier than the lite.) This workout is part of Merrithew’s CORE line, focused on athletic conditioning and performance training, so it is not strictly Pilates. According to Moira Merrithew, who introduces the workout, the 27 exercises in the workout are focused on strength, alignment, and efficient biomechanics. I now have an entirely new outlook on the Fitness Circle (and I’m glad I have one of my own!).
The workout is led by John Garey, a Master Instructor Trainer for Merrithew Health and Fitness. Two additional Merrithew Instructor Trainers (meaning they train teachers to teach the classes) demonstrate all of the exercises. John’s instruction is clear and detailed, carefully explaining body positioning and movement step-by-step. If you have never done any Pilates or mat-work style exercise before, you’re in good hands with John—just follow his instructions. Of course it is a video, so if you miss an instruction, you can take a look at the movement on the screen and follow along. That said, if these exercises are new to you, there are some exercises you may have a difficult time performing at the same tempo/speed as the DVD. I found this true of the hinge-back with rotation exercise.
The warm-up uses the Fitness Circle to assist with some stretches that may already be familiar to you. Throughout the workout, the Fitness Circle acts as a replacement for a yoga strap in some stretches, which limits both the range of motion (in a good way—making the stretch more stable) and the amount of tension on the wrists and forearms.
I was skeptical of the “Level of Difficulty” rating, which is four out of five. That is, until about five minutes into the workout, when there is a series of kneeling hinge-backs that incorporate the Fitness Circle. (A “hinge-back” from the kneeling position involves keeping everything from your knees to the top of your head in a line, and taking that line straight back to a 45 degree angle.) Holy quads and abs! Several of the exercises involve using the Fitness Circle either between your ankles (pressing in on the Fitness Circle) or with both feet inside the Fitness Circle (pressing out). I found these more difficult than they looked, as one of my legs is clearly bossier than the other! I enjoyed the variations on classic Pilates exercises, including a modified version of The Hundred and a version of Shoulder Bridge where you press one arm behind you on the Fitness Circle.
What really kicked my butt, however, were the single leg bridge variations. The gist of the exercise is to press up into a bridge pose, then lift one leg while pressing the Fitness Circle into that leg. My other hamstring was ON FIRE. So much so that I couldn’t do even half of the set on either leg. WHOA.
While I am currently not at my optimal level of fitness, I found this DVD very accessible with an appropriate level of challenge. Given my experience teaching yoga to very muscular men, I strongly suspect that serious athletes (like CrossFit junkies) would find at least parts of this program very useful in conditioning smaller muscles that don’t get much love during a typical workout, such as the multifidus, and for the range of motion and movement principles.
Brand new to Pilates type movements? The DVD includes a tutorial on the Five Basic Principles (Breathing, Pelvic Placement, Rib Cage Placement, Scapular Movement & Stabilization, and Head & Cervical [spine] Placement).
Merrithew also offers additional DVDs that use the Fitness Circle as the only prop, including Fitness Circle Flow, the Fitness Circle Challenge, Power Paced Fitness Circle, and Precision & Control: Pilates with the Fitness Circle. If you prefer a workout that incorporates a reformer or more props, you can find more titles on the Merrithew website. Finally, there are a variety of other brands/companies/individuals that produce video content that incorporates the Fitness Circle and you can find many other options online.
This prize pack includes:
Merrithew Fitness Circle Lite in black (MSRP $34.99)
Athletic Conditioning with the Fitness Circle DVD (MSRP $16.95)
Merrithew Soft Dumbbells 1.65 pound each (MSRP $23.99)
Happy 2017!! After a holiday season filled with parties, errands, travel, and year-end work-related projects, starting the new year strong can seem like a challenge in itself–what’s the plan? What workout will you do? What will you eat? While I definitely recommend having a plan, sometimes it can be easier to start out with a ready-made plan.
If you’re ready but not sure where to start, here are a few challenges to start your year. This isn’t an exhaustive list, it’s just what has come across my desk, and it isn’t in any particular order. Some challenges are free, others have a fee; some are just for January, others you can join at any time. There are challenges based on running, yoga, pilates, group ex, or solo workouts. Pick a challenge and get a jump on it!
Note: NONE of the links below are affiliate links.
Details:FREE. This is a challenge for everyone, at any level, to get more engaged and help build fitness and a support community. Follow SweatPink on twitter and Instagram, and don’t forget the hashtags. If you are a SweatPink ambassador, be sure to login to the FitApproach website. (If you’re a blogger or active on social media, why not apply to be a SweatPink ambassador?)
January 1-8: #IAMEMPOWERED Sweat Pink Community Kickoff!
January 9-13: #EB2017Goals #IAMEMPOWERED healthy cooking with Eggland’s Best!
January 16-20: #BuildYourBestBody #IAMEMPOWERED fitness challenge with Hedstrom Fitness!
January 21-31: #IAMEMPOWERED #FFYHIITYOGA 10 days of HIIT Yoga challenge with Flex & Flow Yoga!
Details: start with a FREE 30-day trial to Daily Burn. (Using this link also gets you 25% off the next month of Daily Burn, and 25% off a Spartan Race.) This is a new collaboration presenting home-based workouts based on the SGX, Spartan’s official training philosophy. There are variations for beginning, intermediate, and advanced fitness levels, and membership also gives you access to all of the Daily Burn videos. (Note: I’m in love with the yoga hip sequence!)
Details: Sign up to get the month of January for FREE. Once you have signed up, you get to choose a challenge. There are options for a variety of fitness levels. For every workout completed, grokker will make a donation to charity. (After January, a grokker subscription is $14.99/month starting on February 2, 2017; you can cancel at any time).
Details: $99 for the 30 Day Transformation Kit (your choice of Buti Yoga DVD set, meal plan, and samples of Golden Ratio protein [not vegetarian/vegan] with a discount code if you decide to buy a canister; one month free streaming access). There are DVD options for beginners and experienced Buti practitioners–check the website for details. Buti is awarding prizes: a ticket to a Buti retreat (not including transportation) and a year-long digital subscription. To enter, finish the 30 days by February 15 and share your transformation story with Buti. Also: Bizzie Gold is running a separate Sustainable Transformation Group that kicks off on January 4.
Details:FREE. Six months of workouts and an optional Facebook group. Their description: “Strong, Fast, and Fit” —a six-part program with multiple, progressive, adaptable-to-you workouts and detailed coaching. This is appropriate for all levels.
Details: Sign up to run 2,017 miles (solo or with friends—you can sign up and find or create a team later.) The Basic Registration costs $25 and gives you access to monthly challenged hosted by Kara Goucher, weekly prize giveaways, access to a Facebook group for support, and a Mileage Tracker, among other things. Optional swag includes a Run The Year 2017 medal, monthly challenged poster, Milestone yearbook, and Run the Year 2017 shirt. (Wear the shirt to events to meet other participants!)
Details: There are two options this year. One, run/walk 1000 miles. Two, run/walk/exercise 100 days. Registration costs vary, depending on which package you choose, and includes an activity tracker (this one allows you to import from apps and trackers like MapMyRun and Strava). There is also a social component, so you can celebrate your progress and cheer on your friends.
Details: POP Pilates creator Cassey Ho has a variety of FREE pilates challenges that target different muscle groups. If you’re looking for year-long motivation, sign up for her email list–each month you will unlock a different workout calendar, using videos available online.
Details: FREE with optional subscription. YogaDownload describes the challenge: “The challenge is free to join and available to all YogaDownload members, but you can get the most out of the challenge by signing up for one of our memberships which you can order at a discounted price [codes on the website, pricing starts at $12/month]. You’ll get daily emails with your yoga classes, inspiration, an amazing suite of wellness prizes you can win and be supported by a strong community of likeminded practitioners sharing this experience from all over the world.”
Details: this is a guided challenge that starts January 9 (so you’ve got time to plan and get ready!) This four week challenge includes 5 workouts/week, a guided meal plan, and access to the wellness experts (including barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln and Dr. Frank Lipman) in the B3 online community. There is a recommended workout schedule, but you have access to new workouts each week, plus the barre3 online library. Options: do the challenge at your local barre3 studio, OR online. (Subscription prices: $29/monthly, $162 for 6 months; $300/year [$25/month]).
Details:FREE. From the website, “It’s a New Year! Let’s use this fresh start to re-affirm our yoga practice. Join us for a brand new 30 for 30 Challenge, where you will receive all the motivation you need to reboot or revitalize your practice. Sign up today and receive a hand-picked 30-minute class each day for the next 30 days, delivered directly to your inbox. These half-hour classes feature a wide variety of teachers, styles, and sequences, and are sure to keep you motivated and inspired to practice each day.” You can stream online, or through the mobile app. Also: Yoga International is hosting a six month meditation challenge for YI members. (There is a free 30-day trial membership available.)
Details: You’ve probably seen the BeachBody Challenge as part of infomercials for the workouts. Forget the DVDs. BeachBody has a “New Year’s Special” on their streaming service (which is available online and through devices such as Roku); you can get an entire year for under $100. For those doing the math, that’s $8.33/month, aka cheaper than a Planet Fitness membership. That includes access to all existing workouts, and the new ones as they drop. (Entry to the challenge is free and optional.) I am no longer a BeachBody coach, but I’d be happy to answer your questions.
If you prefer to get your workouts live, there are a ton of options. (I’m willing to bet your local gym or fitness studio is hosting a January challenge, at a minimum!) Here are a few that I know about that are happening nationwide:
FlyWheel is hosting a “FLY into 2017: New Year, Real Results 4-Week Challenge.” The challenge includes 5 weekly credits for Flywheel and/or FlyBarre classes (20 credits total, and the expire at the end of the program!), Early Booking, nutrition plan, home workouts to supplement your studio classes, and community support. (The link is my referral link–it lets FlyWheel know I sent you.)
OrangeTheory studios are hosting “The Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge.” To learn more about it, visit your local OrangeTheory or fill out this form onlinefor more details. (If you go, tell them I sent you?)
2017 Road Running Challenges
Prefer to challenge yourself via running events? Check out the Rock ‘n’ Roll race series! Try a “Remix Challenge” by running two events in the same weekend (e.g. a 5k Saturday and a 10k or half on Sunday). My 2016 Rock ‘n’ Blog discount code is good on some 2017 races, so give it a try (code: TRAINWITHBAIN). In California, you can earn some mega-bling through the California Half and Full Series races. Run 4, 7, 10, 15, or 20 series races to score that sweet challenge medal–the more you run, the bigger the bling!
There are plenty of other challenges out there. Are you signed up for a challenge? Did I miss your favorite? Let me know!