US fitness app ClassPass aims to shake-up “flawed” gym mentality
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US fitness app ClassPass aims to shake-up “flawed” gym mentality

US fitness app ClassPass aims to shake-up “flawed” gym mentality

The service is eyeing other Gulf cities after launching in Dubai last month


Fresh out of a Dubai launch last month, the executive chairman of US fitness app ClassPass is encouraging a new mentality among the region’s gyms.

Payal Kadakia, who founded the service back in 2011 after struggling to find dance classes, said it was important to “cater to the experience of the customer” in an increasingly competitive market.

“Any place that’s built on this idea of ‘we don’t care if you come and give us money for months or years on end’, I just think that mentality is flawed in terms of what your incentives are from a business perspective and customer experience standpoint,” she said.

“People will have to cater to giving good customer experiences.”

ClassPass, which now operates in more than 60 cities globally, offers users access to a diverse range of gym classes ranging from boxing to spinning and other more specialised options.

Kadakia said the company had seen an “amazing” response to the app in Dubai, where it changes Dhs399 ($109) a month, since launching on October 16 in partnership with more than 130 fitness studios.

Read: Fitness platform ClassPass to launch in Dubai in October

“We’ve been blown away by the wait list we’ve had so many leads in the two weeks we’re live so the numbers have been fantastic. We’re very happy with how Dubai is going.”

“It’s such a fitness crazy market especially compared to a lot of the other Asian and Middle Eastern markets.”

Based on this performance, she said the company was also looking at other cities in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

“We have our way of analysing every market and if there is people who like to work out and there is great studios there we know our product can work in that market. So while we’re not disclosing anything yet our next cities we’re definitely seeing a lot of great traction.”

The firm’s global expansion is being supported by a $85m Series D funding round the firm closed in July led by Temasek and private equity firm L.Catterton. This brought total funding to $255m since 2013.

Kadakia said the firm also planned to move into more areas around fitness like salons, meditation, wellness and massages.

“We see that already being a pretty prevalent way of people living like that here, especially in Dubai, so we’ll probably be adding those services to the platform in those other categories and one day potentially even expand beyond that.”

While for markets without fitness studios she sees the potential of video classes, even if she continues to see the appeal of fitness classes.

The firm’s one-month free trial for Dubai users ends this week as a city-wide ‘Fitness Challenge’ encouraging residents to engage in 30 minutes of exercise a day continues.

Read: Dubai Fitness Challenge activities continue across five themed villages

Special villages have been established across the city to offer free exercises classes and facilities until November 22.


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