How to Go to the Gym Without Being Robbed

Gym membership can be a headache. In theory, going to the gym should be like buying a car or buying a house: research, shop, and ask the right questions. But many newbies are forced to pay a lot more than they should. Here’s how to avoid overpaying your gym membership.

Despite the “healthier” slogans and other bullshit, gyms are big business. So big that they come up with ways to keep you in the money-eating wormhole through endless promotions, smiling pearl-white employees, not-so-consumer-friendly contracts, and sometimes even free bagels and pizzas (seriously) . Gyms aren’t all that bad if you actually use them for their intended purpose, but the last thing you want is to get stuck paying for a gym you don’t even like.

Searching for the only real gym

Will not go to any gym. You have a variety of options, but just like buying a car, you won’t blindly walk into the nearest parking lot and blurt out, “I want to throw my money at you for a car – any car!”

Search around to find a gym that excites you. These days, you can choose between a huge number of gym chains across the country (and the world), as well as many boutique gyms or specialized gyms such as crossfit boxes, yoga and cycling studios, and mixed martial arts centers. Smaller gyms tend to have a more community-oriented atmosphere where instructors and coaches can be more attentive. On the positive side of the huge network, the smaller gym has a big weakness: the former is everywhere and more reliable, while the latter is located in one place and may one day close almost without notice, sometimes taking your membership dues with it.

So, do your homework . Check out these customer reviews of various gyms to see what you might be doing (though keep in mind that these are often disgruntled people). Gym memberships can be a sizable monthly investment, so keep your budget flexible.

Think about what really matters: being close to home or work is more important than the hot tub in the locker room, and its overall culture (supportive, condescending, or competitive) is more important than nitpicking the number of squat racks. The cheapest or most luxurious gym in the world means nothing if you either don’t go to it or feel unproductive when you exercise.

Be careful with commercial offers

The sales pitch starts the moment you walk through the door. Rows of cars, weights and fancy equipment, as far as the eye can see, a cocktail bar in a conveniently located supplement store, and hey, is this a full-size pool behind giant flawless glass? This can all be very hypnotic, but just like in a magic show, you can’t trust your eyes.

This includes sales representatives with innocent-looking glasses and perfectly ironed polo shirts. They are good people doing their job … which must meet the monthly new membership quota. From the beginning, they aim to get you to say yes to their fitness. A typical process has three main components:

  • Initial screening: You will likely be taken to their office where they will assess you by asking questions orally or through a questionnaire (also called a needs analysis ). During this they will ask you about your intentions to join, your goals, any restrictions, and so on . Do not be silent. Most sales representatives want to help you by figuring out where to place you in their membership tiers. Even if you can’t wait to get started, keep your poker face and collaborate.
  • The Great Gym Tour: A good sales rep will use the selection process to figure out which aspects of the gym should be highlighted for you. For example, if you want to lose weight, he or she can demonstrate different weights and cardiovascular equipment (perhaps by noting, “You probably won’t ever have to wait”), group sessions , a sauna, and anything else that could make you faint. … Basically, it creates a vivid picture in your head as you see how you use the tool. The tour is a very powerful sales tool in framing you closer to signing, so take a step back and really think about whether you will need or use it all.
  • Price Representation: Gyms are smart enough to know people will resist if only offered one price tier, so they repackage prices using complex math and shuffling numbers to make it easier to swallow the final price tag. You will most likely have several payment options, including some BS registration fee (or membership fee) plus a monthly fee. Registration fees may not always be completely waived, but set yourself the goal of bargaining.

The sales chain doesn’t just start and end at the sales rep you are talking to. Personal trainers and fitness directors are also often involved, according to Matt Dustin , a personal trainer who has previously worked for several major gym chains.

When he (the manager) was with a potential participant, I entered as if I had something to say to him, pretended to be surprised that he was with a guest, and then apologized to the guest and politely introduced myself. When I started to leave, he would say: “As long as I have you, this is such and such, she thinks to join …”, and then I stopped to talk about her. fitness goals, tell her that I was the perfect trainer to help, and offer to organize a free class with her in her free time after she joins.

He also notes that everyone from sales reps to personal trainers went through extensive sales training and went through bull-necked binders to mercilessly karate chop your objections to pieces and make you say yes.

How to negotiate the best deal for your gym membership

As a potential buyer, you have something that gyms want ( psst … that’s money), but the sellers have been trained to quickly punch through any armor you might have lightly put on. In addition to reading our article on general negotiating tips , keep in mind the following:

  • Find the right time: The best time to sign up is towards the end of the month and at slower times of the day. Since gym reps are forced to meet their quotas on a monthly basis, many are more likely to pull a few strings to help them. In addition, if you are the only customer here and not the sixth in a long line, the reps can spend more time with you playing catch. Try to go to the gym during your lunch break, rather than after hours or on weekends.
  • Wait for the best deals: everyone knows that January and September are the best times to register new members. Contrary to popular belief, now is the best time to join classes at a good price due to the fierce competition between gyms.
  • Make sure everything is in writing: A verbal agreement can be sweet as honey, but make sure everything you say about your membership agreement is communicated in writing.
  • Invite your friends and / or family: the more, the more fun and less the sales rep may hear you over the cha-ching sound. When you can enroll multiple people at the same time, you can lower rates, waive fees, add additional free gifts, or all of the above! Keep asking, “What can you do for us if So-and-so joins?”
  • Have your best weapon ready: get ready to leave. And I mean to actually leave. A potential sale that slips away sucks, so less experienced salespeople will find it easier to succumb to your requirements. If your negotiations don’t get you anywhere, try to walk away and – pardon the cliché – put the damn needle through. (If they won’t let you go, cool down a bit to clear your head and move on to the next gym on your list.)

Here’s what you can do at the negotiating table :

  • Take advantage of the fact that you are shopping: ideally, your attitude reflects that you are eager to join, but you haven’t stopped at anything until the price is right. Fitness blog HealthHabits suggests this approach: “Tell them that in 20 minutes you have an appointment with one of their competitors. Request their “best price” again. If they hesitate, get up and head for the door. Don’t worry, they won’t let you walk out that door. Take their ‘best value’ and head to the next health club on your list. ” You now have the leverage for the next gym.
  • Include a competition: Matt invites you to show that you have either received a guest pass to a different gym or are already a happy participant elsewhere. “Once there is competition for your money, it’s much more likely to help you,” he says.
  • Show little interest in joining: We noted earlier that showing very little interest in actually registering can pay off in many ways. You can certainly try to double your rate by applying this approach towards the end of the month.
  • Ask about package deals: Gym passes are often divided into several categories – seniors, students, military, corporate, couples – each with their own special rates. Do not be afraid to talk about something and see if there is any discount – will never know unless you ask!
  • Know what you can negotiate: If the sales rep is unwilling to drop the price, you can instead try negotiating free in-person training (real training services, not the extended offerings you get with “free” sessions). additional “free” months of membership, additional guest tickets at any time, or gifts at the gym.
  • Request a trial period: Most gyms offer a trial pass for 3 to 7 days in a row. This is a good opportunity to test out the gym, but be sure to read everything you need to sign if you do. In some cases, you may be automatically registered and billed by the end of the trial period. During your trial period, don’t just rate how much you like clean towels. Pay attention to how convenient it is to get to the gym at your preferred time of day, how busy it is at that time, and what other people in the gym are. Basically, you want the most accurate “simulation” of the conditions in the gym when you actually become a member.

Things don’t always go as well as you’d like, or they may even go better than you hoped. If you are cornered, one way to sneak away is to insist that you discuss the situation with your spouse or partner, because any financial decision is a shared burden. Simple “Let me talk it over with my [insert person here], or I’ll never hear the end. I’m sure you understand. can work.

If not, leave.

What you get: contracts versus monthly contracts

From level 1 to sucks, contracts in the gym fall into the sucks area. They completely ignore your interests and contain items that can give you unpleasant surprises. This is why you should comb them carefully and ask many questions, for example:

  • How long is the membership?
  • Is there an automatic renewal upon expiration of the contract? If so, how can I cancel it?
  • What are the exact steps to sign out of membership if needed? What is the cancellation fee?
  • What happens if the gym closes or changes ownership? (This happens more often than you think!)
  • Is there an annual upgrade / maintenance / rate hike?
  • In addition, Alexandre Juan Antonio Cortez , personal trainer, suggests clarifying terms such as “full access” and asking if the network has changed its structure in the past without prior notice.

Most contracts range from one to three years. This means that by law you must be on the hook for owing the gym your membership dues for the entire duration of your contract – whether you use it or not. Breaking a contract is not as easy as cutting paper and flipping a bird. Most of the time, you need to anticipate some serious deathbed-like lying circumstance, such as a sudden disability or moving at least 25 miles from the gym (or any other place on the network), in order to wriggle out. …

Generally, the longer the contract period, the lower the monthly membership cost. Therefore, if you are absolutely confident that you can afford it and use the services regularly, a long-term commitment is a great solution. In most states, you can cancel your contract within 3 days – just remember that it may actually take a while to get your refund.

The trade-off for freedom from any contractual obligations is a much higher monthly membership fee, a registration fee, or both. Based on the monthly payment, gyms can even increase your monthly rate. On the other hand, you have the option to leave the gym without penalties. Monthly gym memberships are less common, but if you’re unsure of your long-term plans for any gym, choose a trial period as long as possible.

“Shit! I’ve already signed the contract!”

If this all seems pointless because you’re already stuck in a contract, there are still a few things you can do to save money.

Gym companies are always stepping up their marketing efforts throughout the year with special offers. If you have a great current rate, you can contact your sales manager straight away to find out. The downside is that you may end up renewing your contract, although if you become a regular gym goer anyway, this could be a win. Likewise, you can also try to resume negotiations by personally inviting referrals and seeing what they can do for you (some kind of service package).

Finally, insurance companies often have incentives for your health, including gym workouts. Call your employer or insurance company and ask for compensation.

Given everything we’ve discussed, it looks like the lack of a decent gym deal has to do with deadly stares and bloodshed. On the contrary: it just takes patience, resilience, and the awareness that the gym you are trying to bargain for is not the only one in the world.


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