Chloe Ross, VP International at ClassPass, answers to Sussex Business Times questions
Can you please tell us a bit about ClassPass?
ClassPass is very simple. It’s an app for booking fitness classes, activities and gym time. In every city where we operate there are thousands of classes on offer in multiple high-quality venues. You choose, book and pay in the app – and there are no subscription tie-ins, you just go month by month. We’re in more than 60 cities worldwide – and ClassPass can travel with you, from Brighton, London and Bristol to New York, Singapore and Dubai.
Who would benefit the most from a ClassPass membership?
ClassPass works best for people who want a varied fitness regime and who don’t like being stuck doing one thing. That includes people who are serious about fitness and who understand the real health benefits of variety, as well as newbies who want to try out different classes and ‘find their thing’. It’s also great for people struggling to keep motivation to work out with a standard gym membership – the first time people try a boutique fitness class, they realise it’s a qualitatively different type of workout and it tends to be a lot more fun. For those who commute it’s great to have this flexibility – so if you work in London and live in Brighton you can take your ClassPass membership with you and do a class in London at lunchtime and keep it up in Brighton at weekends. And, of course, ClassPass is for people who travel – it’s great if you travel overseas for work to take your fitness routine with you to the US, Australia, Asia or the Middle East.
Can you name some of the studios available through ClassPass in Brighton and Hove? Is there a view to increasing the number on offer in the city as time goes on?
Too many to name them all, but we’ve got Rox Life – a brand new studio in town offering great indoor cycling and boxing – Marina Studios, Barre Studio Brighton, The Box, Brighton Pilates, Yoga with Olive, It’s Yoga Brighton, and martial arts studio Elements. But you can find a lot more besides – the Brighton studio scene is going from strength to strength. And yes, we’ll continue to develop what we offer in Brighton, we’re signing new venues up all the time.
Was it easy to engage with studios in the Brighton area?
It was, and we’re loving working with them. A lot of studio owners in Brighton have close connections with the industry in London, and London is one of ClassPass’ largest markets worldwide, so they understood what we do and how successful we’ve been at doing it. They know that we’re here to introduce a new type of customer to them – in most cities where we launch, over 50% of the users who sign up are brand new to studio fitness. We offer this industry a whole new revenue stream – people who want to find, book and pay for a class on a high-quality app, people who want variety, and people who would just never find the studio otherwise. So, it’s a really smart move for the studios and that’s why so many have joined us. It helps that many of the people who work for ClassPass are passionate about the industry and about working with small business owners and creating some buzz.
What inspired the move to make ClassPass available here?
Well, it’s my home town so I’ve had my eye on launching here for a while – partly to do some meetings closer to home for once and also to be able to use my own ClassPass here! We screened Brighton like we screen all prospective launch cities and from a commercial perspective it ticked all the right boxes: a high quality and diverse network of fitness studios and class providers, fitness enthusiasts, and people who need and want flexibility. That way, our members can try multiple classes a week, without being tied down, while still getting fantastic quality teaching. That’s what ClassPass is all about. The Brighton model is what we look to replicate wherever we go.
How has the launch been received in the local area?
So far so good. Brighton is still in the early days but so far, we’ve been delighted with the results. One of the reasons we’re doing well is that Brighton is a busy commuting town. People who work in the city need something easy and flexible to get their class in and the commuters want the ability to find a class in London without paying for extra memberships. The Brighton demographic is really suited to our business model.
Are you able to tell us anything about ClassPass’ next steps?
Since I started my role at ClassPass this year, we’ve launched around two international cities per month and looking ahead to next year, we have plenty more places to go as we expand into a truly global company, as well as consolidating the leadership position we’ve already established in Asia and the Middle East. Naturally we’re keeping our next moves close to our chests, but 2019 should be an exciting year for the team and for ClassPass overall.
You’ve had a colourful career so far. How does being International VP of ClassPass compare to previous roles?
Yes, it’s been varied for sure. I’ve worked in big business, start-ups and in the centre of government, but the thing that unites all these experiences is being surrounded by smart, driven people who are totally committed to what they’re doing. I was lucky enough to be a senior official in the Cabinet Office across two government administrations and was surrounded by some of the best people I’ve ever met, who were leaders in their fields but didn’t just trade on that expertise – they could not have worked harder to have an impact. I can say the same about the team I work with now at ClassPass – at all levels it’s a world class team and that shows in the pace of the company’s execution and the momentum we have.
You’ve lived in the area for about 10 years. What do you love most about living in Sussex?
What I like most has changed over the years. In my twenties I enjoyed the many things Brighton has to offer people that age! Nowadays, I like that it’s a great place to bring up my seven-year-old son. We’re so close to so much stunning countryside, it’s easy to get outdoors and get together with friends and their kids on the beach after school in the summer. Like a lot of people who commute from Brighton, I like the fact it’s close enough to get into London for work but far enough that it’s not just a commuter town – it has its own culture and identity. Having spent a lot of time working in start-ups, I also love the creative and entrepreneurial community here – the number of businesses making their homes here makes it a very inspiring place to live and work.
Do you have a personal favourite exercise class or sport?
I honestly struggle to name a favourite class – they’re all so different and what you want out of a class varies from week to week or even time of day. Early mornings, I tend to go to barre or Pilates classes, as those are tough enough to feel it the next day, but not such a shock to the system first thing. If I need to wake myself up in the middle of the day, I tend to choose something with more pace.