This week, we test Guava Pass, the membership program that gets you into unlimited fitness classes in over 30 studios in Shanghai alone. Guava Pass was founded in 2015 in Singapore and has since spread to Shanghai, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul, and Taipei -- all of which you can get unlimited fitness classes at with their membership. Sounds like good in-roads to amping up your fitness regiment, or trying some new workout routines. SmSh took it for a spin (class).
How It Works
You can sign up for Guava Pass on their website or through their app on iPhone and Android (currently only available on Google Play). A membership billed monthly is 1288rmb, and it gets a bit cheaper if you book for longer periods of time.
Sign up is easy. Simply flip through the huge list of classes (over 150 each day) and pick the ones you want. You can reserve up to four classes at a time. There's a large amount of yoga, but classes also include dance, boxing, crossfit, spinning, zumba, pilates, kettlebells, and more. You can typically reserve a class between 10 days in advance and an hour ahead before the start time. I used the app for a week, going to four classes -- yoga, boxing, kettlebells, and spinning -- and it was smooth sailing. The studios were on page with people using the app and there were no administrative difficulties.
Studios range from the likes of high-end wellness center The Clinic to smaller local venues such as Yu Yoga Studio.
The Fine Print
Feel Good Fitness
There are two constraints to this great fitness buffet. One, you can only take a maximum of three classes at each studio every month. That means if you want to do boxing and there's only one boxing studio (Aboro Academy), you're probably going to want to just get classes directly from them.
Second, if you miss a class or arrive late, Guava Pass will charge you 100rmb. You can cancel twelve hours before the class starts, but if you cancel the class after that, you'll be charged 80rmb. They recommend that you get to the class at least 15 minutes before to guarantee a spot. I was late to one class at Z&B Fitness and got in just fine, but it's really up to the studio.
The Good and the Bad
Guava Pass' biggest strength is that it lets you take classes of multiple disciplines of fitness in a simple, easy-to-access manner. Normally you'd have to call these venues or go to their websites to research the classes, but on Guava Pass, you can find times and class information and make bookings with a few clicks. This lets you decide what kind of class you take on the fly.
Also, classes are offered throughout the day so this lets you go to a class just about anytime you want. Class sizes are clearly listed and unlike dropping in, you wont have to worry about arriving at one that's full. I booked a class at Feel Good Fitness in the middle of the day and was the only one there, turning it into a nice one-on-one session.
The idea of "unlimited" classes is very appealing, but here's the thing: cost-wise you aren't going to be getting good value unless you take at least three to four classes a week. And there are limitations to the types of classes offered. You won't get very deep into any of the disciplines because most only offer introductory classes. And because of the three-class-per-studio limit, it's harder to build relationships with your instructors and build upon the work you did in previous classes.
Should You Get Guava Pass?
If you need variety and someone to guide you in your workouts, then Guava Pass is a great way to get that. It's also good if you're someone interested in testing out new exercises or disciplines, but aren't sure what you want to get into yet. And if you travel in Asia a lot, you won't have stop your exercise regimen as the membership extends to the studios in all of Guava Pass' operating cities.
However, if you're a beginner to fitness, this probably isn't for you. It requires time and commitment and newcomers generally aren't good at that. First see if you can regularly hit the gym on time four times a week. If you can do that consistently, then it might be time to give Guava a look.
Or for something similar but also slightly different, you can try out Move Shanghai, which officially launched two weeks ago, though we've yet to test that one.