Classtivity shifts from OpenTable for casual classes to ‘virtual gym’ with subscription service

Classtivity, a TechStars-backed startup that launched last year to give people an easier way to search for yoga, pilates and other activity classes, is changing things up.

Instead of being a kind of OpenTable for activity classes, co-founder and CEO Payal Kadakia said the New York-based company now aims to be a “virtual gym,” with a class package and subscription service that gives users access to a variety of classes from different boutique studios each month.

“We quickly realized that, in terms of the volume that we were looking for to make a substantial business… just having information on the site doesn’t change behavior,” said Kadakia.

At launch, the startup positioned itself as a discovery and booking platform for a range of classes, from yoga and dance to cooking and language. Users can still search for and book classes (in addition to sign up for the paid class packages), but the company is now only focused on the fitness industry.

Since January, it’s been beta testing a $49 Passport program that lets users take 10 fitness classes from about 100 different boutique studios over the course of a month. On Wednesday, Classtivity officially launched that promotional service, as well as a monthly subscription service, called ClassPass (in beta), that charges users $99 to continue the program.

With the Passport, Classtivity gets access to unused inventory from boutique studios for free, in exchange for marketing and lead generation. With the ClassPass, the startup shares revenue with the boutiques.  Classtivity integrates with each studios’ software to enable bookings, manage inventory and project availability.

Considering that individual classes can cost around $35 a pop, Classtivity plans to give consumers cheaper and more flexible access to fitness studios while giving smaller studios more visibility among potential customers. The goal, says Kadakia, is to take on the big-box gyms that rely on business models that actually “don’t want people to come because it depreciates their equipment.”

It sounds like the company has been able to gain new ground with its paid class package — it says it’s enabled 20,000 reservations through the Passport program. But I wonder how its subscription service will fare. Even though fitness experts encourage people to vary their exercise patterns, people like routine. It may sound tempting to be able to try a different studio or exercise program every week but, ultimately, people may find that they want the convenience and familiarity of returning to the same place.

For now, Classtivity is only available in New York but it plan to expand to San Francisco, Washington, DC and Los Angeles by the end of the year.

Image by Markus Gann via Shutterstock.