Is the traditional gym model broken? If you ask a handful of fitness startups across the US, it sure is, and they aim to fix it.
Over the past year, the fitness industry has seen a new crop of companies rise up and try to disrupt the monthly subscription to one gym model. Instead of being locked in to a contract to go to your local health club, depending on your location, you now have the ability to use one of these fitness startups to explore different fitness options around you.
Here are some of the companies that have come across our radar; if we haven’t covered one that deserves a mention, please let us know:
AllFit – Officially launching in NYC in 2015, AllFit has tiered pricing based on how many classes you expect to attend. For $150/month, you’ll be able to do 10 classes, and for $240/month, you get unlimited classes.
ClassPass – The undisputed heavyweight in the online booking space. They’ve recently raised $40mn to bring their fundraising efforts over the past year to over a whopping $54mn. One of the truly national players, ClassPass is in several hundred studios with in over 20 cities. First starting as an aggregator of classes of all types and known as Classtivity, ClassPass finally found its stride in 2014 and is gunning for global domination of online fitness booking. Prices are $99/month ($79 in some smaller markets) for unlimited classes.
FitDayPass – Different from the online studio booking services, this service focuses on day passes at various gyms. Most gyms already sell day passes, and now you can just go to this site that aggregates these gyms. You can purchase a one off or get packs of 3 or 5 passes at a discounted rate. Keep in mind that a day gym pass can run you anywhere from $10 to $35. Currently in NYC only.
FitMob – Another big player that came on to the scene in 2014, FitMob first started as an outdoor community fitness site, but then quickly saw the potential in aggregating studios and letting consumers choose from a wide range. FitMob also touts itself as a national service, though it’s footprint and warchest (they’ve raised over $15mn in the past year) smaller than that of ClassPass.
Fitn – A lesser known regional player, the Fit-N is San Diego-based and focused. They’re in FitMob’s backyard, but seem to be trying to get more CrossFit studios on board, which is a change from the dance/yoga heavy national players.
FitReserve – Another pivot akin to Classtivity’s change to ClassPass, FitReserve began as GoRecess, also a booking aggregator that quickly saw that the real opportunity as a business was creating their own subscription plan that allows members to try out a multitude of venues. FitReserve is NYC-based for now, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see them make the jump into other markets sooner than later. Unlike Classpass, which allows members to go to a maximum of 3 classes at any given studio per month, FitReserve charges more ($129/month) but you can go to 4 classes at any given studio you choose.
Gymfinite – Another regional player; this one’s in Denver. Pricing options are $99/month or $199/month. The lower tier gets you 8 visits, and then it’s $12 per visit for any additional visits. The upper tier gets you unlimited classes and even access to Denver’s shared bicycle program.
GymSurfing – This one’s another gym pass focused service. Bally Total Fitness is one of their key partners, and they have a head start over FitDayPass, having launched in 2013. You get $5 to get your friends to sign up, so your passes are actually free if you go to gyms that charge $5 a visit.
SportSetter – Probably the most unique out of all of the players listed here. You pay $8/month to get access to a few hundred activities, so it’s not only fitness we’re talking here. Think batting cages and other activities in that vein. SportSetter is truly about discovery, so when you try an activity at a facility you really like, you’re encouraged to join.
What exactly are these fitness startups trying to fix? Traditional gyms lock people into contracts and charge a monthly subscription fee. Unlike the “universal” gym memberships like the above services, you can’t get variety other than what your gym already offers. They’re also making gyms and studios much more accessible to people who don’t want to commit to a gym membership.
With so many players, and more cropping up, its unlikely that all of these will survive. We’d expect to see some consolidation, and with companies like ClassPass and FitMob so well-capitalized, expect to see some moves quickly.
It’s also unlikely that these models won’t further evolve, as none of them are perfect yet. They are still taking a step in the right direction of giving consumers what they want. Even people at some of the biggest traditional gym organizations are investors/advisors at some of these players, so these fitness startups are on to something.
Have you tried any of these fitness startups that are rethinking the subscription-based gym model? We’d love to hear your reviews in the comments!
*Update – 2/17/15 – FitMob has acquired Gymsurfing.
**Update- 4/24/15 – ClassPass has acquired FitMob.