Good Sweat

Friday, April 27, 2012

Go Recess: Will it be the Open Table of boutique fitness booking?

Circuit of Change bootcamp on Go Recess

Circuit of Change of one of 100,000 fitness classes you can book at GoRecess.com

 

The boutique fitness explosion is generating new ways to book your workouts. Witness GoRecess.com, which launches today, and wants to be the “Open Table of fitness.” (It’s about to have a lot of competition.)

Founded by Megan Smyth and Billy Arzt, two former finance people obsessed with fitness (she’s a marathoner-turned-group-fitness junkie; he’s a triathlete and CrossFit dude), Go Recess allows you to search for fitness classes by type, location, or time; view which ones have availability; and book in real time. You pay the class rack rate—no discount, no Ticketmaster surcharge. And after you’ve taken it, the site prompts you to write an easy peasy mini review. Sound familiar?

“My friends and I were all dropping our gym memberships,” explains Smyth, who like many New Yorkers joined the boutique fitness zeitgeist, opting for specialty classes at specialty studios over the monthly gym model. “I had a different password for every studio, and I swear I couldn’t view more than one class schedule at a time because one would boot me out when I opened another, and it was driving me crazy. Why should it be so hard to see who has a 7:30 class open nearby?” she says. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way!”

GoRecess_founders

Go Recess founders Megan Smyth and Billy Arzt

That “better way” is seamless, real-time booking of fitness classes, according to Smyth and Arzt, whose site lists thousands of studios, such as Barry’s Bootcamp, Nalini Method, and YogaVida in New York City, as well as hot spots around the country. (Go Recess gets a commission for every transaction.) One thing the studios have in common? All use the booking system/class calendar called MindBody Online, which provides Go Recess with the network. (For better or worse.)

What that means for class-goers is that the studios are not handpicked or curated into goal-oriented packages like Fitist, a site that it’ll be compared to because it was first to the boutique-fitness booking party when it launched last May. It will also be compared to other newcomers, like Classtivity.com and Workoutspots.com, which utilize strikingly similar platforms (though aesthetics vary greatly).

Why are so many businesses interested in being your fitness booker? “Anything that improves or enhances a person’s fitness routine and experience is a good thing, and booking is part of the experience,” says fitness aficionado Amanda Freeman, founder of SLT and SLT Yoga, who also works with Fitist.

One way Go Recess is setting itself apart is with a solid class selection. It includes many popular studios, like the ones mentioned earlier—and must-try newcomers like Pilates ProWorks and Chaise 23.

Although there are some holes in the roster. Pickings for yoga are slim, and premium players like Physique 57 are missing. And search under “spinning & cycling” yields class times for Cycle Bar in Brooklyn, but not SoulCycle or Flywheel.

To live up to the Open Table analogy, Go Recess (and its competitors) will have to work hard to get all studios on board—including the Eleven Madison Parks and ABC Kitchens of fitness.  —Melisse Gelula

For more information or to book a class, visit GoRecess.com

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