Entrepreneur Payal Kadakia had an idea to revolutionize fitness. It didn’t quite, um, work out.

The concept was called “Passport,” and New Yorkers who bought it could take classes at a bunch of different fitness businesses for a month. After all that dabbling, Kadakia figured, they’d pick one place and stick with it. That didn’t happen.

“Instead, they wanted Passport over and over,” she says.

So, a new idea was born: ClassPass. Pay $99 a month, and you can use the site to sign up for an unlimited number of classes — bootcamp, Pilates, yoga, cycling, TRX, etc. — at dozens of boutique gyms. The only restriction is you can’t go to the same place more than three times in a month. The only commitment, Kadakia likes to say, “is to yourself.”

And as of today, it’s available in D.C. This is the sixth city launch for the company, which is already in New York, Boston, Chicago, L.A. and San Francisco. Current members had been clamoring for an expansion to Washington, Kadakia says. (ClassPass membership isn’t restricted by location, so folks can take classes at any studio in the entire network.)

D.C. is a city known for fitness, adds Kadakia, who’s curious to see which sorts of offerings end up being most popular here. Boston is a cycling town, she says, while L.A. can’t get enough barre. Her prediction is that Washingtonians will be into fusion classes, since so many studios in the area offer combo workouts.

But no matter how much variety is packed into a single session, it’s tough to compete with the diversity of options available through ClassPass. In D.C. alone, members have access to 50 studios, which translates into hundreds of classes per week.

Not everything the studios offer is open to ClassPass bookings, but to participate in the program, businesses must open up the majority of their schedules, Kadakia says.

It makes financial sense for them, she adds, because it brings new people in the door and keeps classes at capacity — even if they’re not getting as much money as they would from a typical drop-in student. For ClassPass members, it’s an even better deal, Kadakia says. Trying to cobble together workouts from multiple studios in a month can easily cost upward of $200.

Plus, there’s a new benefit in D.C. Because ClassPass isn’t a facility, the $99 isn’t subject to the city’s sales tax extension.

To get your money’s worth, however, you still have to make it to classes regularly. There’s no site with a feature that handles that — yet.

Muscle matchmaker
Looking for a personal trainer but don’t know where to start? Beginning next week, Washingtonians can visit zukefitness.com, a site that launched in New York in July. Scan available appointments, specialties, client reviews and prices before booking. Zuke also hosts listings for other fitness opportunities, including run clubs and bootcamps.

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