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Why do almost all gyms have "joining" fees?

And other consumer-hostile issues...

     
2:23 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Why do they?

It's the biggest thing which puts me off going to a gym.
After five years of intending to go - yes, I know, that makes me a champion procrastinator - I am determined to go now, but I really need to get past this.

Paying monthly membership already means that I can't choose how often you go and pay only for what I use, which is irritating enough. (What if I go on holiday for a month? That's a lot of money down the drain, isn't it?)

But paying a joining fee as well?!

What happens if the equipment is substandard or the staff are annoying and you have to go and find another gym? I suppose you forfeit the joining fee, do you? The only reason I can see for a joining fee is to dissuade one from switching gyms all the time... but surely the guarantor that you don't go somewhere else should be the quality of the gym, not the fact that you stand to lose money?

I went to check out a gym near where I live about a year ago and the trainer showing me around showed where I could plug my headphones into their music system. And I asked: "Great, is there somewhere where I can attach my music too and listen to that?" and she seemed slightly surprised that I might not want to listen to the middle-of-the-road, indiscriminate pop muzak that they were pumping out through their various sound channels. Apparently there wasn't a "My Music" option.

Also, I just visited a website for a gym chain in London, which has a branch near to my new house. Couldn't find any info about prices. Just a form which I could fill in which would enable a salesperson to come around to my house or ring me up and annoy me on their terms or something.

Do gyms hate customers? Or am I so used to the non-linear customer experience found on the web that the offline world is slowly ceasing to make sense?

3:43 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Statistically, something like 40% of members join a gym just after Christmas and have stopped going by about February ;-)

They rely on the join fees as part of their economic model.

TJ

11:01 pm on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Paying monthly membership already means that I can't choose how often you go and pay only for what I use, which is irritating enough. (What if I go on holiday for a month? That's a lot of money down the drain, isn't it?)

Certainly the Hotel based gym-chain I go to (central London) offers a 'pay-as-you-sweat' option, and regardless of membership level you can cancel fees for one month and start it again the next to fit in with hols, Xmas or whatever...

But paying a joining fee as well?!

Lol! Based on my experiences: The 'joining fee' only exists so that they can tell you, "And if you sign up now we'll waive the joining fee..." No one actually pays the joining fee, do they? I don't know anyone who ever has.

Apparently there wasn't a "My Music" option.

Lol! What an excuse!

I take my iPod Shuffle - ideal for the gym. Haven't tried it in the pool yet, though :)

Sounds like you're trying anything to avoid getting fit. Just try and remember the old saying: "Gym'll Fix It!"

Syzygy

3:41 am on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Why do they have "joining" fees?

Because people like the "idea" of a gym.....but don't like the exercise.

Because people would rather boast of their gym and the fees they pay instead of being truly interested in trimming down.

If you want to exercise, just go for a good long stretch every day! Costs you nothing but time and it's the best!

The minimum I try to get in every day is 4 km. More often I can get 8 to 10 km in.

You can do 10 km in about 2 hours, more or less.

1:11 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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My experience is the same as Syzygy's. Even the Y will drop or reduce the sign up fee if you push a bit, unless it's a tight market. And, as has been noted, don't look for a deal in January.
8:58 pm on Aug 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Forget the gym. I never felt so good as when I recently got back to a daily bike ride. I'm up to 8 miles in about half an hour now, and could go farther if I only had more time. 15MPH isn't so great, but then it's not so bad given that my bike weighs 24lbs, has 2" knobby tires that won't hold air, and the road is rough! ;)
6:33 pm on Aug 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've always found gyms one of the most overpriced and least consumer friendly establishments going.
7:05 pm on Aug 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What I want to know is why do gyms always have big car parks? I mean, if you are so unfit as to need to go to the gym to work out, why not get some free exercise by, like, walking or cycling there?

DXL

11:25 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What I want to know is why do gyms always have big car parks? I mean, if you are so unfit as to need to go to the gym to work out, why not get some free exercise by, like, walking or cycling there?

I go to the gym to lift weights, not do cardio.

If people were enthused about walking or cycling, they wouldn't be shelling out $250-$60 a month to go to a gym and use a treadmill or exercise bike, now would they =)

11:31 pm on Aug 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It's a two tier pricing system. The same as why some theme parks charge you to get in and then again to get on rides.

This is done to maximize revenue. There is a whole economic model based on this two tier pricing structure and how it's superior to charging just one fee, because it get's the most $$ out of the customer.

I am not going to explain this model here, because a graph is helpful, but I'm sure if you google it, you'll see it.

I'm an economist :)

11:42 am on Aug 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

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A lot of them will waive the joining fee if you happen to drop in that you were very impressed with the nearest local chain (make sure you read the smallprint though about the contract stuff...)