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Workout subscription service ClassPass boosted its customers heart rates on Wednesday—but not in a good way. The struggling startup abruptly announced that it was discontinuing its signature product, a monthly unlimited exercise pass.
For workout junkies always on the hunt for a hot new class or calorie-burning activity, the unlimited ClassPass was a deal: For $99, it let users take classes at any fitness facility in ClassPass’s local network, with up to three visits per month at each gym or chain. Since the company targeted high-end studios and classes that could cost upwards of $30 a pop in some cities, that made ClassPass a good deal for users who didn’t mind hopscotching between different locations, switching up their routine, and planning ahead to sign up before all the ClassPass slots in a particular class filled up.
But while the economics of ClassPass worked for users, the company itself didn’t have the same luck. This spring, ClassPass tried branching out by offering a package of 10 classes for $125. It also raised prices by more than 50% in some locations — in New York City, the price went up to $125, then to $200 — but ultimately, those adjustments weren’t enough to salvage the unlimited ClassPass option.
Sad and angry ClassPass users took to the company’s Twitter page to vent in the wake of the announcement, which CEO and co-founder Payal Kadakia tried to address in an open letter to members on the ClassPass website. She wrote that the popularity of the unlimited ClassPass took the startup by surprise. “I was so taken aback by the promotion’s success I focused on nurturing that spark, assuming we’d figure out the business model as the company continued to scale,” she said.