We all aspire to be healthier. Who doesn’t aspire to lose weight and exercise more as an annual New Year’s resolution?
Yet well-intentioned aspirations and actions are not the same thing. To lose weight, you need to burn off more calories than you consume on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, too many people mistake paying for a gym membership as a prime motivation for losing weight, instead of actually using their gym memberships.
Gym owners and fitness club businesses know this fact very well. One in 10 current private gym members signed up around New Year’s day, ostensibly out of a commitment to a resolution.
Yet most then stop attending entirely in a little over three to four months. This self-defeating mindset is then exploited by gyms and fitness clubs, which offer more memberships than they realistically accommodate.
That’s right. Most gyms make money off of people who buy gym memberships but never show up over those that actually show up.
Only about 20% of Americans who buy a gym membership actually patronize that gym 100 times or more in a year. More than 10% of Americans buy a gym membership, work out at the gym a few times, then never return.
A shocking 70% of Americans buy a gym membership and then never go to the gym once.
Think about that. Seven out of every 10 people literally waste their expensive gym memberships.
Like a casino, the gym and fitness club industry are profitable. But it is an exaggeration to accuse them of actively ripping people off.
If they are, the con is willingly enabled by at least 70% of their customer base.
The private gym industry
To better understand how and why the local gym owner financially benefits from member procrastination, let’s take a better look at the industry as a whole.
The American private gym and fitness industry is the largest in the world. There are more private gyms in the United States than in Mexico and Brazil combined.
Almost half a million people are employed by gyms in the United States.
There are over 36,000 membership-required gyms and fitness clubs located throughout the United States. Moreover, membership has increased appreciably in just a few years.
In 2015, over 55 million Americans paid for a gym membership. That number increased to about 60.9 million Americans in 2017.
The American fitness industry is valued at about almost $26 billion dollars. The fitness industry is one of the largest industries in the United States.
Planet Fitness generated over $1.5 billion dollars in 2015. The company also boasts over seven million members and 800+ facilities in the United States.
Anytime Fitness has over 2,000 facilities in the United States and over 1,000 located around the world.
It is an understatement to say that going to the local gym is big business on a regional and local scale.
And it’s a big business because most people who pay for the privilege of using a gym don’t even bother to go.
The problem is that well-intentioned people confuse their motivation to exercise with willingness to pay for gym membership.
It’s an expensive motivation to have. Besides the base membership there are also various equipment fees, initiation fees, and amenities fees that can be added into the cost of membership, depending on the facility.
The average American gym membership fee is about $60 a month. Such fees can be as high as $150 a month for smaller, exclusive, and popular gyms.
Still, at the average monthly cost, that means that most Americans pay anywhere from $700 to $800 a year on gym membership fees.
The gym always wins
It would be a mistake to believe that no one goes to the gym. If you live a population dense metropolitan city, chances are that such gyms are usually full to capacity.
Most gyms however are lucky to meet a significant percentage of their capacity on a daily basis. The fact is that most gyms estimate their potential profits based on the amount of people they know will never show up.
Since gym owners know that 70% to 80% of their members will never show up they almost always solicit more members than their facilities can actually accommodate.
It is no mistake that you see TV advertisements for gym memberships during New Years and other major holidays. These are the times of year when people overeat, obsess over weight gain, and aspire to lose weight. Then, they sign up for gym memberships that they won’t use.
Most people who procrastinate when it comes to working out usually pledge to work out another day. Or another month. Gym owners use this mindset to their advantage.
If you pay for a gym membership via credit card, there is likely a monthly auto-renewal of membership you may not be aware of. A lot of people aware of the auto-renewal function still may not opt out for months.
While vacillating every month over actually going to the gym, hundreds of dollars are wasted in the meantime.
Most gyms also have a pay-per-use option. As in, you can pay to use the gym per visit instead of paying for a monthly membership. Most gyms never advertise a pay-per-use option and encourage people to buy monthly memberships.
After all, it isn’t in their financial incentive to do so. While it can be easy to vilify the gym industry for such practices, they are not wholly to blame. They are voluntarily enabled by people who willfully waste their membership.
A better way
Wasting $700 or more annually on auto-renewed gym memberships is a lot of money to waste for no other reason than to enrich the local gym owner.
Instead, inquire if you your gym has a daily pay-per-use option. Many gyms offer a free trial membership for a predetermined period. Or, try to sign up with a friend for added motivation.
You also have many other options to get healthier and fitter besides paying for a gym membership you likely won’t use.
Look up free exercise programs and classes located throughout your city. Invest in a modest home gym and work out at home. Manifest your motivation to lose weight with action instead of procrastination and just lighting money on fire.