Coronavirus case studies: How ClassPass is using technology to support the fitness industry

By Ellen Daniel

With an estimated 20% of the world’s population is now under lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, numerous industries face uncertainty.

Many gyms and fitness studios have had to close their doors, with little idea of when they will be allowed to open again. Although this will undoubtedly disrupt the industry, if it is able to harness technology, this disruption may be lessened.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the growing popularity of streamed at-home workouts from companies such as FIIT, which offers “smart workouts” that users can complete on-demand at home using a wearable FIIT bands to record heart rate and calories, and Peloton, in which users can participate in streamed spinning classes demonstrates the ways in which the industry is changing in response to technology.

With the growing sophistication of wearable devices and the potential of smart mirrors to enable further interaction and personalisation, this looks likely to continue into the future.

However, for fitness professionals, many of whom are self-employed, the coronavirus has meant that they are unable to work, and many have had to rapidly re-think how they reach clients.

ClassPass: Livestreaming fitness classes during the coronavirus pandemic

ClassPass is playing a role in utilising technology to support many individuals in the industry facing challenging circumstances. ClassPass is a subscription service that makes it easier for users to find and book a range of different fitness classes. Through the ClassPass app, members are able to book classes at over 30,000 exercise studios.

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, ClassPass is working to enable exercise studios and gyms to still operate in some capacity thanks to livestreaming. The company has said that it will use “technology and database of over one million subscribers to bring much-needed revenue to studios and their employees”.

Through ClassPass, users will be able to book onto livestreamed classes hosted by more than 500 fitness studios, as well as offering training and resources for studios livestreaming classes for the first time.

“As the pandemic has continued to spread, more than 90% of our partner studios have indefinitely closed their doors, without a clear understanding of when they can reopen,” ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman tells Verdict. “We have made it our priority to help studios digitise their classes and get access to our community of fitness fans through livestream classes.

“Fitness and wellness businesses are already starting to layoff their teams. That is why we are asking members to donate directly to help these businesses, either through the ClassPass app or by buying packages directly from studios. We hope that our livestream booking capabilities will help these studios to get some much needed revenue, and to get their classes in front of people throughout the globe, many of whom want to stay active while homebound.”

“The industry is struggling right now”

As well as enabling partners to livestream through its platform, ClassPass is also donating to studios that are currently closed:

“ClassPass has launched the ability for partners around the globe to host livestream classes. We are waiving our commission for bookings through 1 June and sending 100% of the profits to studios who have been forced to close their doors. We have also launched an easy way for people to give directly to their favourite studios, and ClassPass is matching $1m in donations,” says Lanman.

“Throughout this extremely difficult situation, ClassPass has put the needs of our members and studios first. We proactively waived all class cancellation fees, let our members know we would rollover all credits, and made it easy for members to pause their accounts.”

According to ClassPass, it will also aid studio owners in understanding available financial resources, and help fitness businesses to apply for short term loans and government assistance. On Monday, it launched a petition on calling for financial assistance for the fitness businesses.

“The industry is struggling right now, which is why ClassPass has mobilised to quickly get cash to our partners. We have also launched a global petition, asking governments to offer immediate rent relief and financial assistance to the fitness and wellness industry. Within a few hours of launching the petition, there have already been well over 13,000 signatures.”

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