Shanghai Fitness Apps: Which is Right for You?

We look at GuavaPass, Move Shanghai and Mindbody to get the skinny on how they work

by Jennifer Stevens | Wed, January 11, 2017

In a time where we buy monthly subscriptions to stream music and movies, to get groceries, and even clothing, it only makes sense that a service would come along to offer a variety of fitness classes. The concept debuted in 2013, when MIT graduate Payal Kadakia launched New York City startup ClassPass. The idea was that users could pay a flat monthly fee in order to take exercise classes at a variety of studios. It quickly became successful, appealing to people wanting to try different workouts, or to those unable to commit to a yearly gym membership.


Spreading throughout the US and into Asia, models similar to ClassPass are popping up all over China, and have gained particular traction in the Shanghai market. “The fitness consumption and behavior in Shanghai is on a magical level,” says CEO of Move Shanghai, Tom Xiong. “We’re seeing a large population that really want and need physical activity to live happy lives.” Move Shanghai is what Xiong refers to as “your own personal fitness concierge,” a website platform and app that allows you to book anything from tennis classes to a lounge chair at a 5-star hotel pool for a flat monthly fee. The company, already in 15 other cities, made its appearance in Shanghai June 2016, about a year after the popular monthly fitness subscription service, GuavaPass, hit the scene.


Diane Chia, GuavaPass’ General Manager, welcomes the competition, stating that the two companies differ enough to reach a wide range of customers. “Fitness has become a real trend in Shanghai,” says Chia. “The mindset has shifted in the last year or two. There’s a need and a want for it. People are now spending less money on luxury and more on lifestyle." When asked why this trend is taking off in Shanghai, both company reps speak to the importance of variety as well as quality. Chia admits to having had four memberships at the same time, pre-GuavaPass, and Xiong shares that before joining Move, he was their target audience: someone who had a really hard time staying active.


The Breakdown:

So what are the real differences between the two competitors? GuavaPass is a bit cheaper, has more studios (including centers in 10 other major Asian cities and Dubai) and allows users the ability to book an unlimited amount of workouts for the same day. The app is available on iTunes and Google Play. Move is slightly more expensive, but includes fancy hotel pools and gyms. Users are restricted to booking one class per day, but most studios allow unlimited access. A premium membership is also available, which includes one private training session each week. For now, the app is only available on iTunes. 


Another option for people not wanting to commit to a monthly subscription: the MINDBODY app. Available on iTunes and Google Play, the application allows users to find gyms, wellness centers (massage, meditation, acupunture, etc.) and beauty salons/spas in the area. With GPS tracking, results within 15 km of your location are displayed, along with a map. Find where you want to go, check out the schedule (for fitness classes) and pricing details, then book. Note that some places can be booked through the app, and others via phone call (from the app). The home screen displays your upcoming classes as well as your favorites. 

All three options are great ways to discover the wide array of fitness classes and boutique studios in Shanghai. Move offers a two-week trial for ¥599 and GuavaPass offers a ¥250 coupon for the first month. Why not try them all? Let us know what you liked best.