There's no question that ClassPass is on a tear. The company, which allows users to take unlimited fitness classes for $99 a month, has raised more than $54 million, is currently in 34 markets and just acquired competitor FitMob.
In order to maintain its hockey-stick growth, ClassPass is trying to connect with individuals outside its typical demographic of women between the ages of 20 to 45. At the moment, men make up a very small percentage of ClassPass's user base (in March, cofounder Payal Kadakia said the ClassPass members are "90 percent female").
To this end, the company's blog has featured a series of posts with titles like '16 Thoughts Every Guy Has in His First Pilates Class' and 'Listen Up, Dudes: 5 Guys Dish On Why ClassPass Isn't Just for the Ladies' to get more men interested in and comfortable with what ClassPass is offering, namely boutique fitness classes that are overwhelmingly attended by women.
In a recent promotional post, a member of the company's customer experience team detailed a date he went on with a women he'd met at a ClassPass studio. The body of the post is largely self-deprecating and sweet. Its original opening, however, was less so.
Before diving into an account of his date – which involved a long conversation "over a candlelit table" as Sinatra played in the background – he opens with a call to action:
For you single bros out there, where better to meet a lady than at a fitness class? Between the sweat, endorphins and the potential for less clothing than usual, the stage is set for us guys to make your [sic] move.
The tone is excessively 'bro'-y at best, problematic at worst. A tweet from Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover sums it up pretty well:
Today, ClassPass revised the post's opener, deleted a couple 'dude' references lower down and issued an apology on Twitter :
ClassPass also released the following statement:
At ClassPass we've built a like-minded community of people that enjoy getting fit and discovering new and exciting ways to work out. Often, members in our community have established friendships with other members and in some rare cases, romantic relationships. The blog post was not part of a concerted marketing effort, it was merely a personal story from one of our team members about his experience. We are sorry that it came off as insensitive and want to reiterate how important it is for us that all of our members feel comfortable and at ease in our classes.
As marketing blunders go, it's a minor one. But it is interesting that ClassPass, despite its insistence that the post was not part of a "concerted marketing effort," is positioning itself to men as a place to pick up women. (It's not the first time the company has done this: a previous post features responses from five male users who were asked, "What are some of the best classes to meet single girls at?")
People meet-cute while working out all the time. That's natural, and it's healthy. But advertising a studio as a place to pick up singles feels not just opportunistic, but a little creepy. As a friend put it: "It's a gym, not a bar…I'm there to work out, not get hit on."