When I began my research for this project, I stumbled upon a couple ClassPass blogs that were specific to New York City, one being Best In Class run by Lara Kramer. She also frequently updates the Best In Class Twitter, which you can follow here.
Lara had developed a pretty comprehensive rating system for classes with custom workout summaries that were much more believable and relatable compared to what you would find on the ClassPass website. However, what really intrigued me was her writing style. She seemed smart and witty and I could tell that she genuinely wanted to provide the best content possible for her followers.
Last week, Lara and I chatted about our blogs over glasses of wine and yes, she is just as cool (if not cooler) than I thought she would be. Naturally, I had a lot of questions for her.
Brief description of who you are, what you do for a living and your blog:
Hello there! My name is Lara Kramer and I’m a twenty-something who lives in NYC – okay, okay, I’m hanging onto the twenty-something years by a tiny, shabby thread but it still counts. I moved to NYC from Austin, TX about 2.5 years ago for a job in digital marketing. After embracing the city’s happy hour and late night dinner charms with open arms, I decided I needed to get myself under control. About three minutes after this epiphany, I joined ClassPass and shortly thereafter, Best In Class was born. Best In Class aims to build an exhaustive catalog of all the various types of ClassPass classes available and break down expectations and experiences to help you better find a fitness journey catered to your needs. Hopefully all with a little fun along the way (even if it’s at my own expense, like the time I was caught with my pants around my ankles or that one time I faced death and survived).
How did you get the idea to start Best In Class? What inspired you to take initiative and start the blog?
Best In Class was a baby born out of my own need. While trying to schedule classes on ClassPass, I found myself running into the same problem: how can a 2-3 sentence description really prepare me for a class? How would I know that Vinyasa yoga at Studio A would be more my cup of tea than Vinyasa yoga at Studio B (or Studio C, D, E, and Z for that matter – NYC loves their yoga). And, more importantly, how would I know that the strength training class described as “Sweaty fun, good for all skill levels” wouldn’t end up feeling like voluntary torture, where I’d happily commit to chewing off my left arm if I could make it end sooner. Believe me, I’ve been there and I would have if the sight of blood didn’t make me queasy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a detailed resource out there that was created specifically for the NYC ClassPass community and which sought to provide a full picture of each class – so I decided to get to work on one.
What has been the most challenging part of managing the blog?
Great question, and I’d say two main struggles come to mind. 1) Making sure I have enough fresh content every week, which means committing to trying new classes constantly and then carving out the time to write about each experience in a quick turnaround. My goal is to have 2-3 new reviews published every single week, so that can keep a girl busy. 2) Covering the breadth of NYC. This has been a real dozy, in fact. In all honesty, Manhattan is my main focus, from both a convenience standpoint but also because the majority of classes are located in this borough. I’ve made a dedicated effort to get Queens and Brooklyn on the Best In Class map, but the process isn’t as fast as I’d ideally like it to be.
How did you develop the rating system as far as numbers and categories go? Was there any research involved?
Ahh, yes. The Overall Score metric. From the start, I knew I wanted a quantifiable, conclusive ranking system to help provide a snap shot of each class. It’s also useful for anyone who doesn’t want to read through five paragraphs of text to get a stronger sense of a class. So I just needed to figure out what was going to be weighted in the Overall Score. I thought about myself and the variables that were important to me in defining a great workout experience. These became: the general level of fun in a given class, the quality of the workout, the vibe of the studio, and how fabulous the instructor was. Each variable is rated on a scale 1-10, with ten being knock-your-socks-off awesome. The four numbers are then averaged together to earn the Overall Score metric.
I hold 10’s very close to my sweaty sports bra. A 10 can only be given if there’s no realistic room for improvement. And maybe only also if I’m feeling very generous.
Have the reviews changed how you approach your workouts? If so, how?
Surprisingly, I don’t think they’ve affected my time at all. It may be naive of me to think so, but when I’m in a class, I really try to dedicate myself entirely to that experience. Perhaps the biggest impact might be when I find myself in a truly ridiculous class (like when I suddenly reverted back to my daycare years), I can reason with myself by saying it’s not a complete loss – at least it’ll be good blog reading!
Most importantly, in your “About” page, you mention chocolate donuts… have you tried a lot of donuts in NYC and if so, who, in your opinion, has the best?