Goodbye ClassPass…Ramble

When I moved to London last year, I was worried about missing the classes at Equinox. I used to goto my gym 5-6 times a week. Not knowing which area I be based in, I had a phone interview for a part-time reception job in the London EQ club, but was told I was overqualified and they were worried I would leave within a week.

As a digital professional, I’m always interested in checking out digital solutions. One of my favorite spin teachers had a day job at a company ClassPass acquired, in the U.S., so I heard about them long before I joined.

The rules are simple: a monthly membership allows subscribers to attend 3 classes in a billing cycle at anyone of the gyms within the app. If you goto the gym 4 times a week, that means you will have to find at least 6 different gyms. Committing to one gym, without trying the classes can also be a bit of a gamble, as some gyms I have found to be great at HIIT (high intensity interval training), but terrible at spin classes, therefore I would only use my three monthly allotments for the HIIT classes and know, that if I got a club membership, that was the only class I would actually take, thus making ClassPass more valuable. Those gyms in return are given subscribers’ email addresses to contact them about promotions.

Being new to living in London, ClassPass helped me not only stay fit and stop me from face-planting on cement:

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(*yes, that happened, I had too much on my mind while running and came within an inch of hitting my head on a brick wall. Did you know that moving is listed as one of the top stresses in life? I was very stressed when I got here due to a number of factors, not the least of which, were all the “rules” Londoners provided of how to behave and what to wear and how to conform to their standards. When I fell I was wondering if I had made a huge mistake moving to London, a place I dreamed of living since I was 12. There have been many dream moments for the record, and I was extremely happy, at the same time with a little healthy fear.)

ClassPass also helped me to get familiar with different areas of London. However, there was a lot of misinformation of addresses, available facilities (a handicap staff toilet does not mean there is a shower available-putting an end to meeting a friend following the class following a particular grueling spin class- and then having to get on the tube an hour home-sorry straphangers!), and odd gyms (in the basement of a nightclub, a meeting room in a banquet hall, etc.)  You can write reviews of classes and gyms, but they are not displayed. I don’t know what ClassPass is doing with that information, most likely the back-end isn’t there to support reviews or they are worried a bad review could mean they lose a gym from the service.

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In March, two of my favorite clubs sent out emails stating they were meeting with ClassPass executives because they were unable to stay in the service with discounted pricing. I was surprised how open the gym owners were, to the point where they sent out emails “we’re going to meet with them at 2pm, we’ll let you know what happens.” Both gyms did resolve their pricing with ClassPass. It made me wonder when ClassPass would pass that pricing difference along to members.

Two days ago I received the answer, along with the rest of London’s members. The monthly subscription was going from £79 to £110. That’s right, up £31 in one jump.

Start-ups can go from hot to not and lose support in a blink. And so, being a digital person, I understand that underestimating costs and trying not to lose your top-tier partners is essential to growing your business, but for passing all of that extra expense to the consumer, the dude sums it up the best:

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Ah, ClassPass, you helped keep my body healthy and experiment with barre classes, pure air chambers, and even electronic stim vests (*totally amazing) but raising the price by  38% is a bad business move when there are other gym class memberships available like GymBox.

I’m going to use up my remaining month of membership with all the great gyms I love including Core Collective, 1 Rebel, PHIIT, Transition Zone, Bootcamp Pilates, Project Fit and Exceo Training. Then, add another change to my list and say:

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Dog Stylist Officially Added to My CV…Ramble

I met the incredible bright spirit that is Suzanne Donaldson, aka Mrs. Sizzle, at a pop-up shop for Love Thy Beast. I was a fan of their reversible gold puffer jacket, and had read The Dogist was going to be there. I took my French bulldog, Elle, and we head to the LES to try it on her. Thus, we set out on a dark winter’s night.

Walking out of the gloomy night, into the Love Thy Beast (now permanent) shop, this blonde spark plug extended her hand, “Hi, she is gorgeous,”she said pointing at Elle. “I’m Mrs. Sizzle!”

I thought, ‘Damn, what have I been doing with my life? I want to introduce myself as Mrs. Sizzle! Who is this amazing lady?’ I spoke with Suzanne and her interns while The Dogist slipped out the door, never to return. (All good because that story ends with Elle in the center of the “Sassy” section on page 127 of his book. Stage mom moment out….)

We went on to join Mrs. Sizzle for a Santacon shoot at Penn Station. She teamed up with street photographer, Jeff Mermelstein, quite a character in his own right, renowned for his New York images.  I love this noir photo Jeff got of Elle for Mrs.Sizzle.com which included our dear friend @chloekhardoggian.

mrssizzle.jpegFast forward to this past April. We say goodbye to our NY dog friends at a charity event including Suzanne. We stay in touch on Instagram. Get asked by another friend of Mrs. Sizzle’s to part take in a London Fashion Week street style shoot, that wound up not happening, but gave me the idea to pitch Suzanne a few ideas to showcase the Best of British Dog Designers with our London dog friends, Winny & Noodle (who unfortunately couldn’t make the shoot due to scheduling issues, but we love quite a bit.)

We discussed fashion pieces – once we both admitted to being obsessed with Ware of The Dog’s Pink Bobble jumper, we knew we were aligned in aesthetic and Suzanne said “let’s go for it.”I have to admit being let loose in Mungo & Maud was a styling dream come true. Elle crawled up into one of the dog beds, snuggling toys while I picked things out for the shoot.

The result has been an incredible collaboration and curation with British designers including the aforementioned Mungo & Maud as well as rising stars Ruby Rufus, Hiro + Wolf and Fetch & Follow.

It was wonderful my very talented friend photographer, Rachel Oates brought the vision to life with her photography. Rachel’s muse, her wonderful Pembroke  @Winnythecorgi and Elle brought the clothes to life alongside our pal, Bodhibulldog.  Thankfully we were quite focused, when recapping as we left the location, otherwise how would we have survived a freak hail storm, Winny’s paw bleeding, and me face planting while trying to keep the designer goods from hitting mud? All in the name of producing incredible fashion moments like those below, which you can see on Mrs. Sizzle.com right now. A huge thanks to everyone involved.

The world is a strange and dangerous place these days, so it gives us the further kick to be able to add some color and fun into this holiday season.mrs+sizzle+rachel+oates-1.jpg

Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty… Ramble

When I worked in Soho, NY the models going on go-see casting calls looked like fairies, dotting the often grey weather that fall. Since then, my interest in fashion has had a more concentrated interest. The colors and cuts of Alexander McQueen have made me sigh in wonderment many a time, none more so than at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.    My eyes fluttered. Here was magic, a different kind of spark than other fashion exhibits I have seen or even Fashion Week events. While the exhibit is based on one from The Met, which I didn’t catch, in 2011, only a year after McQueen’s death, the space and layout were extraordinary.  While the Death Becomes Her, mourning garments throughout history curated by Anna Wintour, at The Met, was historically interesting, there’s nothing I like more in fashion than drama, a real show. The McQueen exhibit includes quotes that enhanced the exhibit as to his own mix of self-awareness and inner turmoil. He was precise. He knew he was making a mark and he wanted to create conversations, arming women with a feminine touch. (The result of witnessing and also a victim of his older sister’s abusive first husband. She only found out about Alexander’s own abuse when he became an adult.)  It was a creative kick in the soul. I’m here, on this earth, go big. I wrote about the recent triad of deaths of men on the music & technology world. The McQueen exhibit was the exclamation point. So, whoever you are, be it a famous Olympian or a school teacher, everyone struggles, turn that struggle into a positive. Express it. Move in this life, not through it colorless. Those dreams, the ones you had once, but life got in the way, it’s never too late to make them a reality.

Americans have a tendency to value ourselves by our job titles, responding within a few minutes when a senior executive needs an answer. If you’re creative the world is your stage, exposure and criticism is expected, welcomed – at the same time, it can be a lot of pressure. Don’t let that pressure to fit into an easier pace of life, trap you into not taking creative risks. Thank you Alexander McQueen for the magic you shared with the world. Hope your tormented soul is laughing – you made your mark. Now, it’s my turn to do the same in my own life.