CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Editor's note (April 9, 2019): Starting April 15, 2019, ClassPass will no longer offer live classes. They will offer on-demand classes only.
ClassPass Live is a subscription service that offers studio workouts on your TV at home. It's a simple concept that mostly delivers, especially for the price. The included heart rate monitor didn't work as I expected it to, but the overall workouts are so good it didn't matter.
Pay $79 upfront for a Google Chromecast and a Wahoo Tickr heart rate monitor (it has to be that specific monitor). The Chromecast streams exercise classes from the ClassPass app to your TV and the heart rate monitor is supposed to display your stats on the screen relative to the expected range for that particular exercise (I never got the heart rate monitor to work, which I'll talk about in more detail later on).
There are a lot of classes to choose from, covering a variety of disciplines and fitness levels -- they cost $19 per month (about £15 or AU$25 converted). My favorite part is the way the classes are filmed, in an actual studio with actual studio participants. One of the participants typically demonstrates modifications so you can either follow along with them (easier) or with the instructor and the other participants (harder).
Each class is shot from different angles, too, so you can really see what they're doing. It doesn't quite feel like you're at the gym with them, but it is more immersive than competitors like Mirror. The ClassPass app is weirdly arranged, though, making it frustrating to find the classes you want.
ClassPass Live doesn't support any third-party fitness or smart home apps, and the heart rate monitor issues were annoying, but it's a decent system with excellent classes at a good price. Definitely consider it if you want to take studio classes at home without needing clunky exercise equipment.
ClassPass Live is pretty limited when it comes to hardware. All you get in the starter kit is a Google Chromecast dongle to connect to your TV and a heart rate monitor. Fortunately, that's all you need to make full use of this service (in theory, again I'll get to my issues about the heart rate monitor) -- and again it costs just $79.
Set up the Google Chromecast as you would any other Chromecast. Plug it into your TV, connect the included power adapter, download the Google Home app and follow the instructions to get it set up. This process is simple, and should only take a few minutes. Still have questions about setting up a Chromecast? Start here.
The heart rate monitor, while seemingly simple to set up, gave me a ton of trouble. It's a Bluetooth heart rate monitor like so many other models out there, but ClassPass tells me only this specific one -- the Wahoo Tickr -- is compatible with the ClassPass Live service. I successfully connected the monitor to my phone and its red and blue LED status lights indicated that it was fully connected and detecting my heart rate. And yet, my real-time heart rate stats never once appeared on the ClassPass Live screen like they were supposed to.
I checked every possible support page to troubleshoot, including resetting it, checking the battery and more without any luck. But I believe I found the verdict after ruling out so many other things. Wahoo's own Tickr support page specifically states that devices like Chromecast, AirPlay and Roku can lead to signal interference and prevent the monitor from working properly.
That's interesting, since the Chromecast and the Wahoo Tickr are sold together in the kit for ClassPass Live and this is the only heart rate monitor that works with the system. It's a significant flaw with the hardware and the overall functionality of the system. Sigh.
After the Chromecast is set up, you can download the ClassPass app, create an account and start working out. There are no additional accessories included with this kit like dumbbells, resistance bands or a yoga mat, but you don't really need them.
My favorite thing about ClassPass is the way the videos are shot. They typically enlist the instructor as well as a few in-studio participants to do the workouts alongside the instructor. You get to see how a group of people do the same exercises -- and one of the participants usually does modified versions of the same workouts.
I also like that the videos are shot from a variety of angles so you can really get a sense of what they're doing. It's part of why I really prefer ClassPass Live to the $1,495 Mirror, which involved more of a static figure on a screen showing you what to do without different camera angles or other studio participants. Mirror classes cost $39 per month.
Peloton is a bit different. It has a $3,995 treadmill called the "Tread" and a $2,245 spin bike simply called "Bike." Classes for either piece of equipment cost $39 per month. Classes are geared toward running and spinning, but Peloton also has strength training, weight lifting and high intensity interval classes to diversify your weekly training. I really like both Peloton products, but they're at the highest end of the price spectrum compared to ClassPass Live.
My main issue with ClassPass Live, aside from the wonky heart rate monitor, was the app. It's a fine enough app, but the layout was a little weird. The home screen links to the ClassPass blog and ClassPass social media accounts. A small section at the top links to your upcoming and completed classes. This would be a helpful shortcut, except that mine never populated (even though I signed up for and took several classes).
Head over to the video tab to find the classes you want to take, which include cardio, strength training, mind and body, and more. This is the easy part. Click on the class and it will say, "Cast to TV" or "Watch on device" if you want to watch on your phone or tablet instead. From there you can pause and restart the class as needed from the phone. I'd really like to see voice integration here, especially with Google Assistant, since ClassPass Live works with a Google Chromecast already. It would be neat to be able to say, "OK, Google, play the HIIT workout I did yesterday" rather than always having to go through the app.
Eh, yes and no. If you want a simple way to work out at home that's more immersive than pulling up a YouTube video, but less expensive than its competition, ClassPass Live might be for you.
That said, I had problems with the heart rate monitor and the app has a strange layout that isn't especially user-friendly. But for $19 per month, it delivers a ton of excellent classes that (almost) made me feel like I was there. That in turn motivated me to keep pushing myself, more than I might with other, less immersive home workouts.