How to Have an Open Relationship With Exercise

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Photo: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

In the past two months, I've been in an open relationship with exercise. And true to the testimony of people in them, the results have been hot and sweaty.

In the past 60 days, I’ve rowed, boxed, danced like Beyoncébungee-weighted, and barred my way across Manhattan. Normally, my exercise dalliances would have cost me roughly $300 — since New York is the land of $30 boutique gym classes — but thanks to a friend who told me about this new site called ClassPass (formerly Classtivity), I've done it all for under $100.

For $99 a month, I’ve been able to try out up to ten different workout classes (although this was recently changed so now it is unlimited) using ClassPass’s reservation system, which works like an "Open Table" for gyms. There's a search function on the site that allows you to pick time, date, and type of workout; you click to book and ClassPass sends you a reservation confirmation and reminder, including instructions on what to bring to class. You can make reservations for classes up to a week in advance or, as is often in my case, a few hours or days beforehand. There are hundreds of classes in ClassPass’s system, including those frequented by Kim Kardashian (Barry’s Bootcamp) and many barre-like classes, all of which serve fancy spa water in the lobby. You can pole dance on a Saturday afternoon. You can join running clubs. You can try to get a dancer V

But my open relationship with exercise hasn’t been without some drawbacks: Classes aren't rated on the site, so you walk into them blindly, unsure of the level of workout you're about to get. I signed up for the hardest workout in New York City by complete accident. My friend and I showed up for a bouldering class and discovered after the fact that it was an open bouldering class. (We spent the next hour watching people leap up a steep, inverted wall like they were in a mountain-range-based game of Parkour.) Since you are limited to three sign-ups for one venue, ClassPass forces you to try different gyms. But as it becomes more popular (it just launched in Chicago and is opening in D.C. next), it might be more difficult to get into a class you really want. Sign-up times for some classes open up a week in advance but at all varying times, which isn't ideal for people who like to stick to the same schedule. (ClassPass–induced stress over sign-ups is a real thing.)

But through my open relationship with work-outs, I haven’t been bored once — I’ve discovered all sorts of things about myself. Mostly that I like to exercise without constraints, unless they're resistance bands attached to a barre.