SINGAPORE: Ms Toni Peyret was a “happy” user of fitness subscription service ClassPass until last month when she received an email informing her of new plans with prices that are nearly twice as much.
Up till then, the senior account manager paid S$50 a month for 50 credits that can be used to book workout classes at different fitness studios. That plan would be discontinued, said the email from ClassPass, which offered a new monthly plan of 30 credits at S$59.
Even though she was given five more credits as a “founding member”, Ms Peyret said the sudden near doubling in cost “didn’t make sense” and she decided to cancel her membership.
“I was quite happy with ClassPass so I might have accepted a gradual price increase but by almost 100 per cent? That isn’t very fair or consumer-friendly,” she told Channel NewsAsia.
Ms Peyret was not the only one taken aback by the price adjustments of ClassPass, which made its foray into Singapore last August and announced the acquisition of its Asian rival GuavaPass earlier this month.
The New York-based start-up acts like a consolidated platform where users who purchase its credits are able to find and book classes ranging from yoga, dance to boxing offered by different boutique fitness studios.
Credit rates for each class varies. They range from about six to 20 credits based on factors such as time, location and popularity.
During its debut last year, Temasek-backed ClassPass launched an aggressive bid for market share with competitive plans offering 50 credits for S$50 and 200 credits for S$100, making it one of the cheapest among similar fitness class booking services here.
It also offered a two-month free trial, although that was later shortened to a week and new users were given a cap of 50 credits.
With the revision which ClassPass said it made early last month, the free trial now offers new users 45 credits for a week.
Monthly plans start from 25 credits for S$59, 45 credits for S$99, 85 credits for S$185 and 150 credits for S$315. This averages out to be S$2 a credit, more than double that of previous price plans.
When contacted, a company spokesperson said: “ClassPass had been operating in Asia for nearly six months and our limited introductory pricing offers came to an end.”
“We are focused on providing our users with convenient access to top fitness experiences and the adjustment of prices is based on the wide range of services that we are offering to them,” noted the emailed response, which added that ClassPass is “working with members affected by these changes”.
On whether there could be further price adjustments, the spokesperson replied: “At this time, we have no news to share on further adjustments to our pricing plans.”
PRICE HIKES MADE "INDEPENDENT" OF GUAVAPASS DEAL: CLASSPASS
Industry observers have described the fitness industry, particularly in Asia Pacific, as a booming US$16.8 billion market powered by rising disposable incomes and growing demand for healthier lifestyles.
China is the largest fitness market in the region, according to a report by Deloitte last year. There is also growth potential in other markets, such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, where consumers are more receptive to innovation in fitness.
Singapore, for instance, has the highest gym membership penetration rate in Southeast Asia at 5.76 per cent, according to the report.
Fitness class booking apps here are hoping to cash in on this and the tussle for market share thus far has seen the exit of incumbent Guavapass, leaving cash-rich ClassPass against smaller players like KFit and ActivPass.
“I found it interesting to read that they acquired GuavaPass. I couldn’t help but think of what happened with promo codes after the Grab-Uber deal and definitely wondered if there was anything to do with that”, said Ms Audrey Leow, who quit ClassPass a few weeks ago following the price hike.
To that, the ClassPass spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia that the price adjustments were “made independent of the acquisition”.
Other users said they did not expect cheap price plans to last, citing similar price hikes in the bike-sharing space, but felt that the magnitude of adjustments was tough to stomach.
“I totally understand that’s how businesses make money. The old prices were too low and I think most of us saw it coming, but price increases still need to be reasonable,” said Mr Alvin Lim, who was a ClassPass user for three months.
“An increase of more than double is appalling. Given that you are trying out new studios most of the time and even when you find something you like, it may be difficult to book the same class at the same timing (with) the same instructor, it’s not worth it anymore.”
To be sure, there are users who have renewed their plans despite the higher prices.
While she was shocked by the price revisions, Ms Nguyen Ha-My said the US start-up still offers more choices and better savings. ClassPass has more than 250 partner studios in Singapore.
“For some of the studios that I really like, an individual membership with them would cost me about S$30 a class. Compared to that, ClassPass is still cheaper even with the new prices so it's still the way to go for me.”