A sad truth in the fitness industry is that from a purely monetary prospective, the best members are the ones who never show up. Places like Planet Fitness and W.O.W. really have this strategy nailed down: plan on the fact that you won’t show up regularly (thereby lowering their operating costs), charge a low enough fee that you don’t really complain when you see it every month in your statement, and rely on the psychological deterrent of “cancelling your gym membership”. Because as long as you have a membership that means you can go, even if you don’t. But if you cancel, which is a pain in the butt, it sends a clear message that you in fact have thrown in the towel.
Once you’re a paying member they have you, with psychology and probably by a contract termination penalty, by the proverbial balls. The only missing link is ensuring that they close the deal once they have you in their clutches, and most gyms have the gym membership “closer” guy. I’ve seen personal trainers do it as well, essentially guilt tripping you into paying more money.
Why This Bothers Me So Much
Fighting back the sedentary life of a non-physical culture is hard. Walking into a gym that you don’t feel comfortable in, probably in a body you don’t feel comfortable in, and perhaps dealing with meatheads or at least people in far better shape than you, is not comfortable. At all. It is down right intimidating, scary, and unwelcoming.
Anyone out of shape who can walk into a barbell room and learn how to squat properly, especially by them self, deserves a golden trophy encrusted in diamonds. If that person is deconditioned, alone, and the gym is crowded, the trophy should also have little rocket boosters on the bottom so it can follow them around.
The membership guy isn’t the devil, of course. He’s some guy who needs to make money and it’s his job to sign you up, and he’s probably primarily on commission anyway. Certainly his performance is judged by the amount of people he or she is getting onboard. However, and there are books written about this very topic, the membership dude and his boss are both wrong.
Just Say No To Stupid Gyms
Give your money to a gym that puts fitness first, and relies on happy customers who are achieving their goals. The pressure sales tactics so commonly used in the fitness industry are, quite frankly, shameful. I have people who want to workout with me because they know I care about fitness and take it (and theirs) seriously. Look around for it. It probably won’t come in a glossy membership pamphlet and the gym might not have a lot of fancy gear, but I can promise you that a glossy brochure and an elliptical machine have zero bearing on you achieving your fitness goals.
For more information on the variety of personal training, health, and fitness services Excel Fitness has to offer please stop in or call one of our certified personal trainers to schedule a complementary consultation.
By Gary Maher, B.S.