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The 3 Secrets Gym Owners Don’t Want You to Know

06th July 2013

Chances are, you’ve spent at least some time thinking about joining a gym.

Most of us do, at some point. We sit at the computer with some tasty-but-terribly-unhealthy snack in one hand and a glass of empty calories in the other, clicking through videos on YouTube like it’s our job. It occurs to us that we could be doing something to get in shape, so we put it on our mental to-do list and get back to mindless video browsing.

Fitness is an excellent goal, and should be pursued (so put down that grinder). But your time is valuable and you don’t want to waste it in efforts to get healthy if those efforts aren’t going to bear fruit.

When you are considering steps to take for your health, consider the tactics gyms use to earn money, and the motivations behind them.

Here are the top three secrets gym owners don’t want you to know about their sales strategies, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Gyms don’t want you to show up.

You read that right. That fancy gym, with the endless rows of shiny new equipment and fuzzy heated towels, doesn’t want you there. They want you to sign up, sure, and they want you to pay your monthly membership fees on time, but they don’t want to see your face.

Most gym memberships go unused. And gyms rely on our tendencies to sign up for a membership and never come back. If everyone who signed up for the gym came to the gym on a regular basis, classes would be overcrowded, machines would have lines out the door, and equipment would need more frequent repair and replacement.

If you don’t come, management can keep their gym sparkling, their classes from being too full, and their machines and equipment in peak condition. Why is that important? To entice more new members who will never show up, of course!

2. Gyms charge you as much as you’ll pay

Gym employees have you at a disadvantage. If you have decided to buy a gym membership, they can charge you whatever they want and hope you’ll assume it’s a hard, fast price.

Justin Leonard, a bodybuilder and fitness writer, puts it like this:

A new customer walks through the door and asks about membership rates. They are quoted, lets’ say, $40 per month. The customer may say, “Well that’s too high. I’ll look around for a lower gym membership rate.” The salesperson may say, “Wait a minute… We really want you to become a member of our gym. If I can get your membership rate lowered to $35, would you join today?” The customer will say, “Uh… yeah, at that rate I can probably join.” The sales person will say, “Great, let me go talk to my boss to see if we can possibly lower your rate (1).”

The gym employee goes and talks to her boss about nothing special, and then comes back with a lower price. You’re happy because you think you got a deal, and the gym is happy because you’re still paying the hard price they need to make from you.

And don’t get us started on fees! Annual fees, maintenance fees, signup fees—they’re just more ways gyms get a hold of your wallet. They know that when you walk into their club, you’re determined to get a membership and at that point, you’ll probably pay whatever you want in order to start toward your goals.

Shop around, and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

3. Gyms love to sell you stuff you don’t need.

Supplements, personal training packages, branded merchandise—these are all ways to take your money without providing much value.

Supplements are unnecessary for the large majority of exercisers, but many personal trainers will try to convince you that they are necessary if you ever want to build muscle and burn fat.

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There are pre-workout supplements, post-workout supplements, meal replacements, and a whole array of other products meant to make you think you aren’t getting enough from your food.

Personal training is a good way to learn what you need to do to accomplish your goals. But gyms often take use your insecurities to sell you more, larger packages than you need. Examine your goals and make sure that what you’re purchasing is what you want, not just what they say you need.








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