With Groupon or ClassPass, you can try out all the new fitness fads and find out what's for you.

Overwhelmed by Fitness Options? Sample Them All with Discounted Passes

If you live in or near San Francisco or another big city, chances are you’ve noticed all the individual sports studios springing up around town. Here’s just a partial list of the studios, dojos, and fitness facilities you might see in your community:

  • Barre
  • Crossfit
  • Karate
  • Taekwando
  • Capoeira
  • Yoga and Bikram (Hot Yoga)
  • Zumba
  • Pilates
  • Jiu-Jitsu
  • Kickboxing and Boxing
  • Zazen
  • Jazzercise
  • Trampoline
  • Gymnastics
  • Climbing Walls

Then of course there are the gyms, YMCAs, sports courts, swimming pools and community recreation facilities. And if you live near the water, you might also have a local kayak or stand-up paddle school near you.

All of these require memberships, class fees, or both. And most require that you pay up front, though some offer trial memberships or pay-as-you-go single classes, often at a higher rate than monthly sessions. So how do you figure out which activities you like, without spending a bundle?

A new solution to this dilemma comes in the form of on-demand community-based fitness organizations that link many local businesses into one monthly membership. In San Francisco, the originator of this approach was FitMob, which recently merged with ClassPass, a larger national purveyor of community-based fitness passes now operating in 34 communities across the country.

For $99 a month, ClassPass gives you access to a host of local studios, gyms, fitness centers and schools. Enter your zipcode and an interactive map shows you all the member businesses to choose from in your area.

Another increasingly popular option is Groupon; the site automatically registers where you live and offers discounted coupons for local fitness centers, studios, gyms, and more.

Best of all, these sites require no longterm contract; you can discontinue your ClassPass membership at any time and most Groupon offers require no commitment. So go ahead, be a dabbler. How will you ever know whether ballroom dancing, hot yoga, or water gymnastics is your thing if you don’t give a few fitness fads a try?

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.