Looking for a gym?

JoRocka
JoRocka Posts: 17,552 Member
Read this- ask yourself what you really want out of it and what you expect from the space your paying for in the long run.

http://uproxx.com/webculture/2014/12/how-low-cost-gyms-like-planet-fitness-psychologically-manipulate-people-into-not-going-to-the-gym/
There’s an absolutely fascinating episode of the Planet Money podcast up on NPR now (or subscribe via iTunes) about the tactics that low-cost gyms use in order to make a fortune on low $10 a month membership fees. I’m particularly fascinated by it because I’m the exact kind of gym member that a place like Planet Fitness craves. I’ve been a member for five or six years, and I’ll go five times a week for three or four months and then get sidetracked by work or kids or other commitments and not attend the gym again for three or four more months.

I’m the ideal gym member.

Why? Because places like Planet Fitness are not actually designed to accommodate the number of people who enroll as members. For instance, the gym used as an example in this episode of Planet Money had about 6,000 members, and yet the facility itself could only accommodate about 300 people at a time. If all the members who signed up actually went, franchises like that Planet Fitness would have to charge far more than $10 a month.

In fact, of the members who get gym memberships, about HALF never actually visit the gym once.

So, how does a place like Planet Fitness attract a clientele that’s earnest enough to sign up for the gym but not dedicated enough to actually go?

Part of it has to do with design: They create gyms that are meant to look like bars. They are designed to make out-of-shape people feel comfortable being there, because the gyms know out-of-shape people are not likely to attend frequently once they sign up. They do that with mirrors and disco music and even massage chairs. Meanwhile, the actual gym part of the gym — the free weights and weight machines — are typically hidden away from the main part of the gym, back in a more intimidating space that those comfortable in the bar-like atmosphere would be less likely to visit. Low-cost gyms don’t actually want the body-builder types — they’d actually go to the gym more frequently — they want those who climb on the treadmill every once in a while. (I can confirm this: In the five or six years I’ve been attending my gym, I’ve visited the weight room twice, and both times, felt like an alien outsider).

Psychologically, when it comes to gym memberships, contrary to what you might think, we also LIKE the idea of long-term contracts, because it locks us into a commitment of going to the gym that we will feel compelled to follow through on. The thinking is, “Well, I’m paying $10 a month, so I HAVE to go,” except when it comes right down to it, the thinking is more like, “Well, it’s only $10. I’m not losing that much. I think I’ll have a pizza and watch The Blacklist tonight, instead.”

Speaking of pizza, I always found it strange that the gym I attend has pizza night and bagel breakfast once a month. That seems kind of self-defeating for a gym, but again, that’s part of the design. The average low-cost gym loses about half of its members each year, so in order to entice people who don’t go to the gym to sign up for another year, these gyms offer free food so at least members get something out of their membership. Many, in fact, will attend only on those days with free food — it doesn’t make them any more healthy but hey! For $10 a month, you get two slices of pizza.

Meanwhile, a good gym is the total opposite. They don’t look like nightclubs. They do not have mirrors, and some will actually kick you out if you don’t attend often enough. They are smaller, and they have more serious members.

How much does a good gym run? As much as $500 a month, and if you’re paying that much, you’re sure as hell gonna make sure you get something out of it.

So, as the New Year rolls around and you begin to consider your resolutions, if you decide to enroll in a low-cost gym, consider the possibility that you’re almost certainly not going to attend frequently. But if you really want to game the system, go everyday out of spite. You’ll show them, and you’ll get positive health results in the process.
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Replies

  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    edited December 2014
    They create gyms that are meant to look like bars
    One of the first, or second gyms, I joined (on my own, not family membership) actually did have a bar and disco lights with dance floor. The weights were located in one of the two disused racquetball courts downstairs.

    It may have had the bar and dance floor, but it was still more of a gym than PF.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,552 Member
    were there drinks? because we all know lifting and drinking is ALWAYS a good time ;)

    That's weird- disco lights LOL- I think I'd have quit- sh1t like that gives me a headache at this point in my life- so I have to be out drinking in order to put up with it.
  • JeffseekingV
    JeffseekingV Posts: 3,172 Member
    I think most gyms oversell their memberships because they know 1/2 don't come. What the gyms REALLY want is the automatic payment though your savings/checking accounts.
  • ddrhellbunny
    ddrhellbunny Posts: 119 Member
    I find this really funny because my friend is one of those people that the gym loves because he doesn't show up, but still pays the membership.

    What they don't know is that I use the membership now, but I'm not the one paying for it...

    so win for me? yes, I'll go with that. :3
  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    I never imbibed at that gym and from all the skateboarding and snowboarding I used to do, I knew better. Here's the description on their website about that location:

    "Stop by... for a beverage after your workout or just or sit by the cozy fireplace – day or night! This full service bar and grill is the perfect place to unwind, relax and socialize with fellow WAC members."

    That gym was a total throw-back.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,552 Member
    lol- I've only ever had a beer with dinner THEN gone lifting- I've never gone drunk- mostly because I"m not that stupid- if I feel the need to drink and work out- I go running.

    That's hysterical- not sure why I'd want to unwind with a bunch of sweaty guys AT my gym- but I remember at LA Fit- I left the gym a couple of times and headed straight to sushi. NOMNOMNOM

    lifting with body builders is a win.
  • BZAH10
    BZAH10 Posts: 5,597 Member
    I think most gyms oversell their memberships because they know 1/2 don't come. What the gyms REALLY want is the automatic payment though your savings/checking accounts.

    Yep, it's a for-profit business and money is the bottom line. Attaining physical fitness isn't exactly their concern. (I mean overall; I'm sure there are local gym-owners who are fitness buffs themselves and are concerned about their clientelle.)
  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    edited December 2014
    lol JoRocka.

    And you could smoke inside in those days. I remember some of the older ladies ogling us young bucks as we made our way down to the locker room to the weight rooms - and without tipping. Jerks.

    IF that wasn't bad enough, you'd have creepy pastors trying to bring you to Jesus as you got your lift on. Funny I stayed there for so long - lack of choices in those days.
  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    Psychologically, when it comes to gym memberships, contrary to what you might think, we also LIKE the idea of long-term contracts, because it locks us into a commitment of going to the gym that we will feel compelled to follow through on
    First hand. The amount of money I've wasted in keeping a gym membership and not going.

    Hate to say, but PF is kinda brilliant.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,552 Member
    Anything to get a lift on my friend- you gotta do what you gotta do. I worked out at a Bally's for a LONG time- it was far from pretty.

    But as long as there is a bar that's mostly straight- and I can fit plates on it-and a squat rack and no ridiculous 'no dead lifting' rules- I'm good to go.

    LOL_ yeah preachy people always make me crazy too- I'm at the gym damnit- not on a street corner!!
  • JeffseekingV
    JeffseekingV Posts: 3,172 Member
    I'm at the Y, very family and older generation oriented. Call me whatever, but sometimes I wish I was at one of those meat market gyms where yoga pants and sports bras rule.
  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    edited December 2014
    JoRocka wrote: »
    Anything to get a lift on my friend- you gotta do what you gotta do. I worked out at a Bally's for a LONG time- it was far from pretty.

    But as long as there is a bar that's mostly straight- and I can fit plates on it-and a squat rack and no ridiculous 'no dead lifting' rules- I'm good to go.

    LOL_ yeah preachy people always make me crazy too- I'm at the gym damnit- not on a street corner!!
    Yeah, no rules there lifting in the basement. Had me so many good sessions and I was still rather new at lifting so I'd be there 3 hours per 3 days a week.

    Do Bally's still exist?
    I'm at the Y, very family and older generation oriented. Call me whatever, but sometimes I wish I was at one of those meat market gyms where yoga pants and sports bras rule.
    First Y I lifted at even had a oly deadlifting station, complete with chalk.

    You're probably better off at the Y, otherwise you'd be getting the wrong "lift" on too much and that might hurt your gains.
  • JoRocka
    JoRocka Posts: 17,552 Member
    Not really- they sold out about 170 of them across the country- there were a handful as of 2-3 years ago still holding on- so they essentially just downsized the hell out of the company- anyone who had a Bally's could keep it - or essentially their membership was transferred to LA Fit.

    damn yoga pants- get ya ever time ;)
  • JeffseekingV
    JeffseekingV Posts: 3,172 Member
    I'd kill for a platform. Our Y just spent a ton on a motorized climbing machine but won't spend the few dollars for an deadlifting platform. And this is AFTER they removed the carpet and found some hairline cracks in the concrete from people doing deads. Go figure.

    Hey I just wanted to get my oogle on once a week. haha
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,465 Member
    Weight Watchers has a killer financial model, too. How do you achieve free lifetime membership? You have to be at maintenance weight for so many months and remain within two pounds of that weight for the rest of your life. Must weigh in monthly. Remember the rate of recidivisim? Isn't it like around 80%? Not to mention my weight fluctuates monthly about five pounds.

    Win all around in the fitness and weight loss game.
  • AliceDark
    AliceDark Posts: 3,886 Member
    When I was looking for a new gym a few months back, I was reading Yelp reviews and found a few b*tching about how the weight room was too crowded with equipment, the gym doesn't have wifi and there's no towel service. Apparently that was supposed to be a negative review...?
  • Hearts_2015
    Hearts_2015 Posts: 12,027 Member
    JoRocka wrote: »
    Read this- ask yourself what you really want out of it and what you expect from the space your paying for in the long run.

    http://uproxx.com/webculture/2014/12/how-low-cost-gyms-like-planet-fitness-psychologically-manipulate-people-into-not-going-to-the-gym/

    I found this article fascinating! It makes perfect sense, I'd just never thought of it in this manner before. Wow! Thanks for the eye opening article.
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,465 Member
    I like the group classes that my chain fitness club attracts. Look at it this way. The no-shows with the great intentions subsidize your membership.
  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    edited December 2014
    JoRocka wrote: »
    Not really- they sold out about 170 of them across the country- there were a handful as of 2-3 years ago still holding on- so they essentially just downsized the hell out of the company- anyone who had a Bally's could keep it - or essentially their membership was transferred to LA Fit.

    damn yoga pants- get ya ever time ;)

    So that's where Bally's went too. The closest one to me shuttered a few years ago after it became a blast for a month or two and then failing.

    My brother-n-law is more yoga pants crazy than I am. They're cute... on my floor.
  • civilizedworm
    civilizedworm Posts: 796 Member
    I'd kill for a platform. Our Y just spent a ton on a motorized climbing machine but won't spend the few dollars for an deadlifting platform. And this is AFTER they removed the carpet and found some hairline cracks in the concrete from people doing deads. Go figure.

    Hey I just wanted to get my oogle on once a week. haha
    lol

    On the subject of gym complaints....

    The stupid Anytime I sometimes go to (because I'm out again in the sticks) across the street finally got a power rack. Sure, buy a massage thing first and another tanning bed, but a power rack and oly bar? Nah that can wait.

    And the power rack they bought, is more for the home and not a commercial gym.