Try out these health club membership tips and get a cheap gym membership now
Free Gym Membership Tips
Try out these health club membership tips and get a cheap gym membership now
There you have it, ten quick tips that will set you way above and beyond the average gym-goer who is stumbling into the health club without a clue and will likely be taken for all of their money. Don't let that be you. Go in prepared. If you want more great tips like this, along with the strategies that make them effective every time, then check out my Free Gym Memberships Book.
The following section is extremely important, and easy to breeze through without picking up on the many nuances of the lesson. It is therefore imperative that you go over it more than once to catch all the detail and let it germinate in your mind.
The professional sales staff or manager is usually trained in overcoming your basic objections. One is time. They will ask you how often you can commit to working out. I am tempted to give you perfect responses to these questions, but then they would be mine, and not yours. I do not suggest making up lies, because that is dishonest. Besides, if they are smart they will smell your dishonesty, and then you have no trust and hence no rapport, which you need. However, if it is true, you can respond by telling them you already workout quite a bit, X number of days per week and you are very happy doing what you do (either at a different club, or on your own). This will force them to unearth your reason for being there in order to convince you that they have a better way, or place, for you to work out. This is fine, of course, since it allows you to force them into price comparisons, which is more challenging for the salesperson. If your life is extremely busy, then tell them that. Tell them that you are unsure you will even have any time at all. They will then have to go back to the prioritization argument about your health. You can then agree that your health is important, and that you want to workout, but you are so worried about using the club at all that you need to get the least amount of access possible, and therefore the lowest possible price.
All of this is discussion to help you see how to work this conversation. A good salesman will look at everything as an opportunity to lead you to their offering. You have to become a salesperson too. You have to sell them on giving you exactly what you want for less than they thought possible. You have to get them to believe that there is a creative way to completely cave in and give you everything and more for free, without them having to lose face. At least, that is the mindset.
Everything eventually comes down to time and money. Now that you have them realizing you have no time, you are almost ready to work on the latter. First, however, you have to understand the sales process further. If they are using something like the intake form or Client Analysis Form, they will be gathering information about you for multiple purposes.
The first purpose was to gather your contact information in order to track and follow up with you. The second reason is to gather health information. The most important reason to a sales person, however, is to uncover your needs, wants, don’t wants, and your hot buttons, the crucial information that you will respond to and take action upon.
A harmless-sounding question like “Do you eat fast food and if so, how often?” may sound as if it is geared towards establishing your health trends, when in reality it is designed to plant seeds in your subconscious mind about your lack of self-control, your need for a professional to change, and most importantly, your wasteful use of money. After all, if you just cut out the fast food, you would have extra money to afford your membership, wouldn’t you? The sales person can sow these seeds into a conversation that will get you to part with your hard-earned money.
These questions, whether they are on some kind of a form, or in the form of a memorized script of thought patterns coming from the sales staff, can come in many forms. They are all geared towards your habits: fast food, restaurants, smoking, TV, job type (both to take a guess about your income, as well as if you are sedentary), all to find an argument to get you to pay for their club instead of paying for these other things. Used properly by a trained professional, they can be used to hit your “hot buttons” and uncover hidden objections that you aren’t stating as to why you wouldn’t sign up immediately.
Some very good fitness professionals may use what are sometimes referred to as “X-Factors”. These are strategic questions that are designed to get you to a point of red-hot desire to join the club today without thinking further and hopefully paying top-dollar. Be on the lookout for these questions (or variations on the themes):
The primary objective of these questions is to get you to a point where you won’t have objections to signing up immediately. Let’s look at these and analyze what is going on so that you can be prepared.
The first question is designed to get you talking about your specific fitness and health goals. Over 70% of surveyed people join to lose body fat, so they are mostly prepared for this particular answer. Regardless of your answer, they are going to take what you say and show how their program (weights, cardiovascular training, personal instruction, and supplements) is going to solve your problem. Only 10% of IHRSA polled participants join for increased muscle, 10% for sports-specific training goals, and 10% for health. You might want to use one of these reasons (as long as it is true for you) to throw them off their pattern. Another option here is to let them know you are still working on these goals, since there are so many directions you could go.
The second question about how long you have been thinking about it is to help you realize that you didn’t just stumble in to the club and decide to look. The average person has been thinking about it for 4-1/2 years. They are usually disgusted with themselves every time they look into the mirror, and that is what gets them to finally show up at the club. Not only is this question designed to increase your desire to start now, but it is also designed to show you that you have been procrastinating, and that if you don’t join today, you are still procrastinating, which is a painful thought you will want to avoid. If it is true for you, admit you have been thinking about it, but that you are really careful about which program you get involved in, since there are so many great deals out there and so many things that don’t work. You are shopping for the very best deal you can possibly get. Being honest about your skepticism helps to deflate the emotional environment the sales person is trying to create in order to get you started “right this instant.” The sales person is trying to avoid you ending the conversation with “I want to think about it.” Make sure you tell them your entire plan involves and requires you to “think about it.”
The third question about what exercise programs you have done in the past is designed to get you to admit that exercise is effective, regardless of where you might do it. The second part is to get you to open up about your past experience (good or bad) with gyms so that this one has a chance to show you how “this time” it will be better or different. If you were burned, they want a chance to convince you that you won’t be burned again. If this particular gym or sales person is any good, they will also be able to show you a program that is somehow unique and better than the competition. If they do, that is good, but don’t be fooled into paying more. You should treat it like an extra bonus you get at the same price as the competition. If not, then that is still good, since you can use their competition to beat them down on price even more.
The fourth area of questioning revolves around the spouse or significant other. The purpose of this one is extremely important for the sales professional. First, they are looking to find out if the spouse is already into fitness and whether or not the person sitting in front of the sales person is there of his or her own accord. The second is to find out if the spouse will support the buyer’s decision. The third is to find out if the spouse is already spending money elsewhere, which means that they are already committed to fitness and support your decision to join and/or might be turned into a member as well. The “spouse objection” is when you say: “I need to talk to my wife/husband before I do this.” It is the easiest excuse in your toolbox that most fitness sales professionals can’t handle, so use it as an escape key if you need. These questions are all designed to manipulate the conversation so that you don’t “need” to get their approval. If they already approve and you are a grown up, you should be able to make a decision on your own two feet about your health which is very personal, right?
One way that you might use this to your advantage is to get your spouse working on this little project with you. You have your spouse shop a different club with the same techniques. Then, if the sales person tries to overcome your spouse objection, you can simply tell them the truth: your spouse is at another club getting the necessary information for you both to make an informed decision. When you get a chance to sit down and go over everything, you will then make a decision together. This one is pretty tough for a sales person to overcome! It also puts them under some pressure to give you a smokin’ deal!
The fifth question is about where you work and what you do. They are looking to find out if you have any money, if you do something sedentary, and how much time you have. Even if you are unemployed, the gym still wants your money. If you don’t have a job it just means you have plenty of time! These questions are also to build rapport with you and to get to the root of your inactivity problems that the gym lifestyle can overcome. As compelling as all of this pro-fitness talk is, remember, you could always go take a walk, do some squats, push-ups and pull-ups, and never have to open your wallet!
The sixth question is about time. They are going to convince you that it only takes a little time, and if you are too busy for 2 to 3 hours of exercise per week, then you don’t really care about your health. Just tell them you understand this, and that you are planning to utilize your time wisely in the right program for you, that you are intent on researching well first.
The seventh question sounds ridiculous, but is very important to them. The reason they ask if you want permanent results and keeping in shape is that they want you to see it as the lifestyle change that it is, even though most people come in on “six weeks for $20”, etc., looking to get in shape really quick for a wedding or cruise. They are looking to see if you will sign up long-term or at least to make you a regular dues-paying member. It is also a great segue to personal training if they sell that too. One way to handle this is to reply that you want to make this a permanent lifestyle, and that you are excited about all the options available for you to do so in this growing industry, like all the other clubs, and all of the independent personal trainers, classes, YMCA, yoga classes, Pilates studios, boot camps, working out in the great outdoors with friends, sports, and the many other things you are planning to do to create a well-rounded fitness life. Remember, the gym is only one of your options out of many! If you convey this to them, then they will know you don’t need them and can move on if they don’t give you a great deal.
All of these questions are designed to get positive responses. Now, if you want to have fun with them, you could always tell them something like this:
Hi, I’m Bill. I don’t really care to get in shape because I think that all the science is bunk. I just started thinking about this for the first time of my life and it is just a funny whim to walk in here. In fact, I’m just lost and looking for the Laundromat. I was on an exercise program before that my militant father forced on me, and I got hurt and it was a terrible experience that I ended up paying through the nose for it and was lied to. I don’t think any of these programs work at all and frankly, I don’t even care. My spouse would freak if she knew I walked in here today because she hates all of these places and really doesn’t want me doing this exercise stuff since I might hurt myself and we don’t have insurance. In fact, we don’t have jobs and are behind on our bills and really need to keep the lights on and try to scrape together enough to buy groceries this month. Do you guys take food stamps? I have no time at all, since I have to go down to the unemployment line every day by bus and I put in a 12 to 16 hour day just getting there and back for no work, and I have to go home and help take care of 6 kids and 5 dogs. Finally, I don’t really care if I keep my results here, since it is all temporary anyway and I don’t care at all what I look like or even what I feel like, since I can just drink my worries away when someone feels kind enough to give me a bottle.
I do NOT recommend you tell lies just to be the worst prospect ever for the sales person. If you go in there with some line, they will smell it and just put you on their loony list. Like I said before, bad attitudes don’t get you any special deals, and lying is just as bad as far as this subject is concerned. Remember, the sales person needs to become your friend, so don’t bother lying. It is better just to be aware of the techniques and general structure of the sales presentation so that you can keep your emotions out of it and focus on your goal of saving lots of money while simultaneously getting the membership you want.
One of the best conversational places you can go to get leverage over the sales person, which helps eliminate many of their best laid plans, is to get to a “no money” situation. This is often the only objection that even the best fitness salespeople can’t handle. Again, we need to tread carefully here, since if you are a millionaire, you don’t want to be lying about being poor. Still, there are artful ways of getting the same result.
Start by finding a way to talk about all the bills you have to pay this month and embellish as much as possible. A good place to get to this is when talking about your job. If you cover in detail how much you are frustrated about property taxes for instance and the new tax on the cable bill, the sales person will likely cringe and forget all about their sales plan. They are going to be thinking all about the money, and that will give you a chance to get back on offense and ask them more questions about themselves, thereby putting the spotlight back on them. This will leave the impression that you are currently tight with your money (which is true), but doesn’t say you are broke or poor. Next, talk about how excited you are to get out of debt and that you created a great budget with your spouse that you have agreed to use to get out of debt finally and be free of financial worry (make sure this is true; check out Dave Ramsey programs if need be). Lastly, let the sales person know that you really aren’t sure this will fit in your budget and the price has to be really good to make it work. If not, you might have to sacrifice something else that is important to your spouse, which of course would require their approval, and you have already asked them to cut so much that this one more thing might put them over the top. If you are going to get out of there unscathed, this gym membership better be ridiculously low!
The “no money” situation helps you to establish your lack of funds, and forces the sales person to search for ways to help you… in the form of a lower price point. Simply by asking for a discount, you are going to get one nine times out of ten. If you ask in artful ways, you increase your chances significantly. Be their friend first, and then ask that friend for help in the form of special deals, waived fees, discounts, or promotions, whether they currently exist for others or not. They can always make an exception for you… just this once.
Finally, just as you would with anyone working the front desk, remember to make a friend. This person who is the “enemy” will drop all defenses if you become a friend. You are more likely to get what you want if they like you. The key is to ask questions and put the spotlight on the sales person. This is the key to the Crucial Conversation. The Crucial Conversation is the conversation you have with the most crucial person in the game, which is the decision maker that will get you your final deal. This person is likely to be a sales person or a manager that actually writes deals on paper for you. It’s the most crucial point in this process, because all of your efforts can be leveraged or destroyed based on your relationship and influence with them. You may end up having to talk to a sales manager for a final decision, but they are all the same in your eyes; just new friends that are going to give you a great deal… whether they like it or not.
The health and fitness club industry is diversifying at an alarming rate. The “big box” clubs (large franchises in major commercial shopping complexes) will most likely have trained sales staff with a sales manager who are paid on performance, i.e. commission. They are hired on the basis of certain qualities. Most importantly, they have to be money motivated and look like a fitness-type character. That’s about it as far as requirements. Therefore, you are likely to run into intense personalities with little education. If they had better education or life experience, or more ambition, they’d probably be doing something else.
Smaller mom-and-pop shops in suburban and rural areas will have a very different atmosphere, and may or may not have a sales-driven staff member there to meet you at the front desk. This may sound ideal to you, but don’t be deceived. Commissioned-based sales staff can work out better for you in the end if you know how to relate to them on their level. A laid back, hung-over, minimum wage earner in a lax club is not necessarily a boon for your membership acquiring endeavors. They probably don’t care if you walk in the door, much less if you join. They may be waving a flier in front of you with published rates from last year and don’t know how to do anything other than hand you paperwork to fill out and show you where the bathroom is. Their ultimate ambition might be to sit down low on the desk so no one can see them and watch the TV or the girl on the treadmill until their shift is over.
The new generation of young workers in America has a different view of hard work, ethics, and hospitality. Service levels vary widely, but are usually disappointing. If you run into the minimum-wage-like situation at your club of choice, don’t despair, you have more options than you think. Of course, if you are in the younger generation, you will have opportunities to relate to these employees in a way that could give you great advantage in getting a cheap membership, or paying nothing at all for all kinds of access and amenities of the fitness club.
All clubs will have a guest registry and require that you sign in. Their goal is to get as much contact information from you as possible. They need it to track how many times you have been there and in order to follow up with you to try to get you to join. Depending on the quality and level of training given to the sales or front desk staff, you may be greeted cheerfully and funneled through their information system. In a larger club you will be asked to sit down and fill out all the information. A more sales-oriented club will have some version of an intake form, a Client Analysis Form, or CAF. The CAF has basic contact information questions, but also represents a needs questionnaire, as well as a tool to overcome your common objections, mostly related to time, price, and having to have your significant other there in order to make a buying decision. For instance, the CAF will probably ask you how many times per week you eat out, if you eat fast food, if you watch a lot of TV, if you have a sedentary job, if you smoke, etc. A casual observer will obviously assume the questions are there to analyze their level of health and fitness and to uncover bad habits. This is only partially true. The real power of the CAF is that it allows the club sales staff to help build a case for how you need the club and can afford the club. If you mention that you eat out twice per week and then you tell the fitness professional that you can’t afford the dues, they can rebut your silly argument by showing you how you can easily afford it if you simply stop your bad dining out habit or if you cut back on a pack of cigarettes. It is powerful because it works. You need to know that this process exists. In my experience, there are very few clubs with trained salespeople that can actually do this. If you run into one who really knows their game, don’t get scared or worried. Later you will find out how to make them your best ally.
In the beginning, the best thing you can do is to remain honest and fill out all forms you need to be conciliatory. This puts you in the position of being able to ask them questions. After all, you opened up to them, so it is only fair that they do the same.
This leads me to a particularly important point of negotiation. I have been in many circumstances as a salesperson where I ran into an irate prospect who had obviously been burned in the past, or who had decided that they could outsmart me. This prospect had a large sales chip on his or her shoulder and decided that all salespeople were bad and all companies wanted to take advantage of all customers and that only the sharp, cynical, shrewd customers that always said no and fought with tooth and nail ever ended up ahead. I believe this attitude comes from a scarcity mentality, where all things are bad and one can only hope for the lesser of evils. In other words, these people despise the fact that they need to do something in the first place to maintain health, despise the fact that they have failed in the past to do so without a club, and despise the idea of having to join one -- before they even show up enough times to prove they will use it! Now, how could they hope for anything other than more of the same? They show up and they hate the whole world before they even arrive (although they would probably not admit it), so now they have to try to lessen the damage by haggling to pay less or talking themselves into giving up and going home. They actually hope that you say something that will give them an excuse for not doing business with you, thereby letting them off the hook.
The irony here is these types of people think they are shrewd and are going to fool the wolves into not eating them alive, but in reality they are sabotaging their intentions. They don’t see that the gateway to what they want is through people and communication. If they irritate the very people they are going to buy from, why would those same people give them a great deal?
Think about it this way: If I have a lawn mower and I start a small service mowing lawns and I am going to charge the average homeowner $50 to mow their lawn, what would influence my decision to move on price? If I moved my price up and down by $10 depending on many factors, such as size of yard, time of day, weather, repeat business, whether I got referrals from a certain customer, and the supply and demand, how would I make a final decision between two identical customers and situations? Let’s say I could go to one customer who smiled and had pleasant conversations and appreciated my offering and paid quickly without much hassle. I might charge full price, but I might drop $10 on occasion simply to keep a good customer happy.
Now think about the other customer, who follows the crafty, shrewd, mean mentality of beating me up mentally and emotionally and not trusting a word I say. To this person, who frowned and doubted and picked and complained and haggled for two hours before paying and then paid only a portion and paid the rest late, I not only won’t give the discount, I will do everything in my power to add $10! If they then talk me down to $10 under my normal price, they would temporarily feel like they “won”, but I would go away feeling taken advantage of and I would probably never forget it. The next time I encountered them I would have a psychological hurdle that would hinder me from even providing adequate service. What goes around comes around.
Therefore, when given paperwork to fill out, the easiest thing you can do is just fill it out. If you feel like you are in a sleazy club or are being conned, then you should just walk out before you get started. There is absolutely no reason to lie to people or to write down fake addresses, or fight them about writing a phone number. If you are of the old school and refuse to give out personal information in fear of identity theft, you need to talk about that with the person right up front the minute they hand you the form and ask if they can make an exception by allowing you to defer this information until you sign up. However, be aware that even the act of doing this will set you apart from the norm as a “problem” customer, thereby making later negotiations more challenging, due to lack of rapport with the person you are negotiating with. If your information privacy is that important to you (which they can probably find on the Internet these days if they really wanted to), then you will have to shop around a lot more to find a club where they are sloppy with their record keeping and don’t care about you filling out a form. Good luck.
After the initial greeting and registration, you will most likely be given a tour. The front desk person will probably call a consultant over to show you the club in a larger facility. If it is a small club, it will be the person at the desk wearing all the hats. Either way, their goal, if they are paid on commission, is to get as much of your money as possible that day. Statistics show that if you walk away without buying on your first visit, the chances of that person getting a sale from you diminish significantly. In their mind, once you walk out the door, you aren’t coming back.
You will be shown the club, perhaps after a questioning process centered on the Client Analysis Form. If you have coupons or advertisements, a good club will validate them right away, so that you don’t feel like it is a bait and switch. Be very careful at this point. They expect a new customer like you to be caught off guard, spending your time just looking around the club, so they have time to size you up. Spend your time enjoying the tour and asking questions about every single detail, but spend most of your attention sizing up the sales person or trainer who is showing you around. Try to put the spotlight on them and ask them questions about themselves, especially if you get a good legitimate opportunity to ask personal questions. He who asks the questions controls the conversation. Their job is to ask questions, so be careful not to upset them by interrogating them. It is important to build rapport, but maintain the initiative at all times. Be proactive and positive and you will gain a psychological advantage that will empower you to sell the salesman on giving you the best deal on earth.
Minimum Wage Flunkey vs. Money Motivated Sales Professional
Here is an important distinction: are you dealing with a minimum wage flunkey or with a money-motivated sales professional? You should be able to tell the difference between these two potential interviewers within the first 30 seconds of your meeting, if not sooner. It is very important, if not absolutely critical that you know which of the two you are dealing with.
The Minimum Wage Flunkey does not care that you are there other than for mild entertainment. If the club is a nice family-owned place or a culture-progressive new franchise, you may get a kid who is just nice, so they might not fit the aforementioned stereotypical description. Nevertheless, we are looking for motivations. The low-level employee is not to be underestimated, however. Even though he might not be able to negotiate a deal out of the ordinary, or change the status quo paperwork in any way, he might be able to get you a free pass for three months or dig up the hidden coupons to use on your membership. He might also give you inside information about the club that can help you down the road. Most importantly, if you befriend him, he can tell you everything about everyone there, since he is like a bartender; after all, it is a very social place. I always recommend becoming great friends with the front desk, as they are the gatekeepers to the entire business: the management, the trainers, the vendors, the other staff, as well as the members. They are the eyes and ears of the club.
My first recommendation is to take your time with them on first meeting and hang out, if possible. Just check things out and try to get to know them. If the club has a prescribed way of handling guests, don’t fight it, but do try to delay it slightly by being personable and congenial with your first point of contact. In a busy club, they may be in a hurry to pass you off to the next person in their chain, but make every effort to use humor or compliments to get moments to ask them questions. Again, questions are key. The more you get them to open up, the more you will have opportunities to glean information crucial to your objectives.
If you are successful at stealing a moment with the gatekeeper before being pushed along, and you have them talking, you must listen intently to their every word and gesture. When they realize you are amiable and sincerely interested in them, they will undoubtedly start telling you inside information about the club without even realizing it. To break the log jam and get the river of information flowing, you may need to throw out some seemingly harmless compliments from time to time, like “You really know everything about this club” or questions, such as: “So, you seem to really know how everything works here, if you were me, how would you get the best deal” (or, less bold, “…what would you do?”)?
Other conversation ‘greasers’:
The minute you turn the spotlight on them, you really do control the conversation. The hottest of these conversation-controlling questions is the hot button last one about their job. As soon as you bring the fact that they are there to make money and herd cattle like you, you destroy the veil that everyone hides behind and bring the full consciousness of the market place to the surface. This often makes the front desk person or sales person uncomfortable enough that they squirm a bit and will do anything to either avoid the personal conversation or they just spill the beans and completely open up to you.
They might not want to talk about their job if they hate it or think the club is terrible. If so, you need to pick up on it. They may love the club and be full of belief about their future there. Good for them. Find out why.
Even if they try to avoid the discussion, the only successful way out of it and back to a professional ‘controlling’ environment that they command is to be amiable and friendly with you long enough to quickly answer the question and fire a question back to you; either way, they are in the hot-seat and more susceptible to giving you what you want… a fantastic deal and a discount on everything.
Keep in mind that none of this will happen if they are going through a scripted routine to show you the club like a robot. You need to break this pattern by slowing down and asking questions directed at the individual. You must slow down their tour rate. Their objective is to keep the spotlight on you and show you everything while asking you fitness related questions to get you thinking about joining, and doing it quickly.
Another great way to break their pattern is to ask for their contact information when they ask for yours. After all, it is how professionals meet, isn’t it? If you act professional and offer your contact information, isn’t it fair to expect an exchange? I don’t mean they say their name is John and then they give you the main phone number to AAA Fitness, the address, and the hours. I mean that you specifically ask them how you can get a hold of them and then ask them if they have a cell phone and an email. Believe me, this is personal, and it screams of accountability. They then feel watched and will have that subconscious knee-jerk reaction to be on good behavior and treat you right so they can either get a good recommendation or at least avoid an angry customer contacting them down the line. Asking and getting contact information sends a very clear message that you care and that you want to be in an open environment of trust with all the people you work with. If you treat them as if they don’t matter, then you allow them to treat you the same. As soon as you make a friend, know their name, and personal information about them, you establish a level of trust that is harder to break than most people think. If you have a business card, give it to them, and ask for theirs.
At this point you are either getting the rates from the gatekeeper at the front desk, or you will have been passed off to the professional sales person who needs to sell you a membership to put food on their table.
The Professional Sales Person
Much of this discussion applies equally to the professional sales person as it does to front desk zombies. Questions are still critical for getting the spotlight on them. They will, however, be more adept at identifying techniques and manipulation than the gatekeepers, so you must be careful how you progress in conversation. The easiest way to avoid problems in this area is to be sincere. If you ask questions about their personal life, you need to not only act interested, but be interested. It is an important distinction, one that will serve you well in life, discount hunting or not.
The sales rep may be trained well or trained poorly. Enjoy their tour and discussion. Notice if they are using anything that resembles rehearsed techniques. They already have your attention and interest (usually), otherwise you wouldn’t be in the club and you wouldn’t be talking to them. Their primary focus, therefore, is to build your desire high enough to get you to take action. They will ask you some pointed questions if they are good, due to the fact that they need you to sign up right then and there. If not, they think (and statistics prove) that you will not be back. If you do come back, they will probably be working somewhere else by then. Either way they make no money.
If January and September are boons to the fitness industry, simple logic can tell you when the worst times (and best times for you) are.
December is probably the best time of the year to get a fitness membership. To some this is counterintuitive, since they think that people have free time and want to avoid the holiday consumerism and poor health choices. This might be true for the occasional oddball, but the truth is that no one avoids major cultural traditions. In fact, I find it funny that the people that try to avoid it the most are often the ones that are the most obsessed with the entire season.
In December, the club is often flat-lined. Between Christmas and New Year’s (even with all those people on vacation), you can have a great laugh by shopping around to different fitness clubs and walking into the lobby quickly. If you are quick, you could startle a front desk employee who fell asleep two hours before and will fall right out of his or her chair. If they are on commission, they will be hungry and desperate. They were told when they applied that they would make a good living in the big wellness industry, but they never anticipated this! Even if the club seems busy at this time of year, it is typically just the die-hards, and not new people signing up, and therefore not much revenue generation is happening.
December is the best time to get a ridiculous deal if there ever was one. The club is hurting and there may even be a chance that they are considering closing or shutting down completely. They are hoping that this year’s January boom will make up for it. Rent continues in December, and they could have a $10,000 to $50,000 rent payment and many hundreds of dollars in utilities bills, not including huge equipment financing payments to make, to the tune of thousands of dollars. The club needs members now and needs them fast. Now is your time.
If you get caught up in the holidays and can’t make it to the fitness club to save hundreds of dollars, you have other runner-up options. You can try August. The dead of summer is like a deserted ghost town for a fitness club in many areas. People would rather be outside (unless you live in an extremely hot climate), having barbeques and going on vacation than be in a fitness club. They are more likely to be out in a pool or going fishing. In fact, even in hot climates, people would rather vacation in a mild 70 to 80’s temperature than sit around the heat of Texas or Arizona in the dead of August.
Either way, you have another situation where the club needs money to pay those air conditioning bills and cover payroll. Sometimes this time of year is even worse, since January boom time is a long way away, and the back-to-school fitness revival is not as strong as January. Therefore they may really be depressed and they really need your business. Why not help them out and go get yourself an irresistible deal that could save you hundreds of dollars over the course of your gym membership lifetime?
If you do nothing else other than go gym shopping in December or August, you will save yourself more money over time to make it all worth it. This one idea alone will make this book worth many hundreds of dollars.
There is a potential third option, depending on the area in which you live. The beginning of summer in some areas can be worse for fitness clubs than other times of year, as people go on vacation. I am sure by now you get the point: Contrarian investing is the way to go. When no one is going to gym, you will find your best deals.
You’re so fat; you can’t afford NOT to buy this membership today. After all, how much is your health worth?
Don’t you respect yourself? Are you now ready to stop procrastinating? When is now a good time to start making the physical changes you deserve?
Hey, we do have this one-time only special. You save over one hundred dollars by joining today only.
You can only get this deal on your first visit to the club.
Don’t worry, that’s just the required processing fee.
Thor the power lifter is the perfect trainer for you. He doesn’t take steroids anymore. The restraining order has been lifted.
What? The class-action lawsuits? No, our club isn’t like all the other clubs, if you need to cancel you can... (Mumble, grumble).
Yeah, you have three days to get a refund, but how can you get in shape in three days? Besides, look at all the classes you get for free!
I know you are going to love that underwater basket weaving class. You know you will love it here! So let’s get you started. Sign here… Which credit card do you want to use right now?
In my years working in fitness clubs, I realized that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I once ran across a survey that questioned people about their perception of salesmen across a multitude of industries. The sales experiences that customers had were appalling. Tied for worst were used-car salesmen and health club salesmen in terms of overall customer perception. This study obviously was a result of years of fast money approaches and slash-and-burn sales techniques that were pervasive in the fitness business models of the 1980’s and 1990’s.
Although the years of class-action lawsuits for fraudulent lifetime memberships may be over, you can bet the lure of quick and easy money has made its mark on fitness businesses, and will continue in one form or another as the huge demand for this industry continues to expand.
In spite of the fact that the numbers are constantly changing, it is helpful to understand some of the financial snapshots. Health club membership in the United States increased by more than 3 percent from 41.3 million members (over the age of six) in 2005 to 42.7 million in 2006, while the total number of Americans who visited or belonged to a health club increased by more than 6 percent from 64.9 million people (over the age of six) in 2005 to 69.3 million in 2006. This is an indication that more people started to exercise and go to fitness clubs regularly.
This growth in health club membership represents an increase of more than 25 percent in just 5 years, while growth in health club patronage represents an increase of nearly 20 percent.
Here is what you need to understand about the industry as a whole:
Seasonal Cycles (And How to Take Advantage of Them)
The fitness industry follows seasonal trends. This means that the hottest time at any fitness club is going to be in January and February. Why? A couple of basic reasons: First, January is when people are just getting over the grotesque hangover of food comas, the overindulgence and gluttony of the holidays, a week or more of becoming a sloth, and of course, the dreaded New Year’s resolution. I have had many conversations with people that claim they don’t take part in those silly New Year’s resolutions, and yet my guess is that it is so ingrained in our culture that no one can completely escape it. It somehow is just natural to want to get a fresh start in a new year. Kids go back to school, and parents go back to work. Everyone craves a healthy routine and everyone wants to “get it right” this time. They are certain that this time will finally be the time that they lose weight, shed unwanted body fat, and become a toned and energetic super-performer. The trouble for them is that they never do, much to the thrill of the fitness tycoons, whose wallets get fat from this simple phenomenon.
This wave will have its biggest push the first few weeks of January. There is often a slight plateau, and then a second smaller wave in February. Depending on your demographic and particular club geography and social atmosphere, the second wave may actually be bigger than the first.
The Sad Truth (of Human Nature and Membership Usage)
This initial buzz around the club will begin to die by mid to late February, and two-thirds of the initial visitors will fade away by mid March. Does this mean that the club owner begins to panic? Not necessarily. In fact, the fitness industry thrives on this! When Joe Schmoe signs up January 2nd with his live-in girlfriend, and pays his entire paycheck to Super Gym Conglomerate, Inc., he has already played right into their preferred business model. Mr. Schmoe and his live-in girlfriend then proceed to not go to the club, and in not doing so, he doesn’t do the following:
I can hear you saying: “Why on earth would Joe Schmoe pay all that money if he never intended on being there?!” I am sure that Mr. Schmoe had great New Year’s resolution intentions. In fact, I am sure that in September of the following year, Mr. Schmoe is still telling himself that one of these days he will get back in and use his membership. After all, he did spend all that money, and he does want to get into shape. I am sure Mr. Schmoe will get around to using it. If he didn’t he would have to cancel, and that would be pretty embarrassing. I mean he would have to admit that he wasted all that money on something he never or hardly ever used. That would create a lot of guilt, wouldn’t it? Maybe he can just keep paying a little longer to get past the next big project at work, and when the kids go back to school he can then find the time after fixing up the house to start a workout program, and then he can use it almost every day and that will more than make up for the lost time and money, right?
In fact, the second seasonal boom for fitness is after Labor Day when the kids go back to school and the routine bug hits again. They were having barbeques all summer and going on vacation and eating like pigs on their cruises. Now that the kids are back and they are back to work, well, they can finally get back to that healthy routine and end procrastination forever!
All this time the fitness club keeps clean, unused and well paid for, fulfilling the dream of the easy-money entrepreneur. Of course, many clubs aren’t this lucky, as their overhead was too ridiculously high to begin with, and they can’t come close to making any money for the first three years, but nevertheless, this is a consumer trap that the average Schmoe gets himself into.
Is this ringing a bell or pouring salt in a wound for you? If so, read on and you may change your habits from this realization.
What does this all mean? It means that the last time that you want to go to the club for your well-planned scream-of-a-deal fitness membership is January or September. You don’t want to be there when demand and prices are high. Perhaps the single best way to get a frighteningly awesome deal is to simply time it right. If you do nothing else that this book suggests, walk into the club at the right time.
Geography and Demographics
Most clubs focus their marketing on a radius of three to five miles around their location. They know that the majority of their members will shop on convenience. They will likely place the club in a highly populated area that contains many people with higher than average incomes. This demographic study will probably contain many baby-boomers, since they not only have disposable income, but also are also very much interested and motivated to increase their health and appearance.
You can benefit from this knowledge by looking at a few neighborhoods around you and think about where you wouldn’t mind working out. If there is a neighborhood that is within a driving distance to where you live that is also in a lower socio-economic class, then you don’t want to rule it out. Just because it is in a poorer neighborhood, doesn’t mean it will be run down, dirty, or dangerous. You should do your due diligence and see if you can put up with it. If so, you have the makings of a fabulous deal on your hands. All else being equal, when using the methods in this book, the middle-class, or lower-middle-class gym is going to be cheaper.
Even if you don’t end up at this “ghetto” gym, you will at least want to use it to practice the techniques found here. This way, you won’t be so green when you go into the gym of your dreams. Also, this will give you some ammunition to use in the next negotiation; a lower price quote. A competitor’s prices always come in handy in negotiating lower rates elsewhere.
Finally, the subject of convenience and geography raises an interesting point. Do you follow the trends like a sheep? Do you really need to work out at the gym that is closest to your house or work? Do you really need to pay more just to save 5 minutes of drive or walk time? How committed are you to both your physical and fiscal fitness? If you truly believe you can have both, you can.
Take the time to look at all the options and see if you can even double up on certain errands while going to an out-of-the-way gym. Perhaps you shop once a week at someplace nearby a gym you never thought of patronizing.
Use their Marketing and Advertising for Your Benefit
The next step is to study the Internet, newspapers (especially small local papers), TV, and radio for all fitness advertisements in your area. Don’t worry; this is not a daunting task. For instance, get a local newspaper and check its health section for the fitness club ads. Start collecting them and cutting out great deals. You are looking for patterns just as much as for specific deals. If you see one club advertising over and over again, week after week, it is a good sign that the ad is either working for them or that they are desperate. Most of the time, the ad is working for them if they continually pay for it. Get the ad and save it. You will dumbfound and impress the club management or sales people if you actually bring one in, since most people only reference them in conversation.
Do not worry if a coupon is expired. That is irrelevant 99% of the time. You can almost always get a deal as advertised, even if it is old, since they often recycle their offers and/or are desperate enough for business to give you old deals if you insist that it was the reason you came in to their club. Collecting the proof of this deal is the best way to do it. When you have the coupon in your hands, no one can deny that it was an offer that interested you, even if it is an ancient one.
Next, do not stop at one club’s advertisements and coupons. You have to collect the competitors’ ads too. This will help you get leverage. It is extremely rare that a person takes the time to cut coupons in fitness and actually compare them. This alone could save you hundreds of dollars or more.
When you come into a club knowing full well what the competition down the street is offering and you flash it after getting the price presentation, you can pretty much just sit quietly as the sales person or manager immediately lowers the price or makes an otherwise competitive deal. If there is room to move, this will surely reveal it. Don’t be surprised if they try to explain away or bad-mouth the competitor. This is a natural human reaction. Just stay cool and ask for a competitive deal. This will get the ball rolling in the right direction. Tell them you really like the other guy and that you are looking for the best possible deal they can make. Point out all the great features of the other gym. Once they make that competitive offer, simply ask: “Is that the best you can do?” After some more examples of how good the other place’s service is, you might even get more serious with: “What is the absolute lowest point you can go today? Is there anything else you can do at all?”
Do Your Homework on all clubs in your area first
This should go without saying, but the vast majority of the public never does any due diligence at all. You should do as much as you have the patience to do. Remember, you are going to save a lot of money over time. You might also find that you prefer an unexpected establishment to another and that it makes all the difference in your final buying decision. Who knows, you might get such a great deal on your first membership, that you will do it again and have two or three club memberships so that you will have the ultimate in convenience and features. After all, if you really love working out, you may end up wanting more options. If you save money on the first, you can do it again. If you have a good knowledge of difference clubs, not only do you know the best deals, but also you know what to compare each one to. Either way, you win.
To summarize, the best thing to do is search online to find everything in your area. Create a map and pinpoint each one within your areas of home, work, family, friends, or shopping interests. Don’t rule out a club just because it isn’t right next to your house. Next, study the ads and look for coupons for all of these clubs.
You might try calling the clubs, but be aware that it is very rare for a gym to give you any real information over the phone. You may get hours of operation and services, but you will be extremely lucky to get any prices. Their primary objective on the phone is to set an appointment for you to come into the club to go through their sales tour. Be friendly and see what you can find out. Set an appointment if you are ready, but you might want to do some other work first, before you call the club.
Next, ask your friends where they work out. A powerful way to get rapport with a gym sales person or management is to name drop. If you know a member, an employee, a trainer, or even a delivery person to a club you are shopping, you have an instant “in”. Remember, the sales person will give deals to people they know, like, and trust. If you know someone in their circle, you are way more likely to get that trust and hence a deal. Name-dropping requires you do your homework and know where your friends and family work out. One efficient method to get this data quickly is to use email or an online social networking site like Facebook.
During the time that you are finding out where your coworkers, friends, and family workout, be sure to ask them if they can get a special deal for you. A coupon, or better yet, the name of a decision maker at their club is very useful. At the very least, get a free week or month pass from the friend. This is going to be a wonderful tool for you later. Even if they don’t get you much of a deal, the effort will create for you an opportunity to name-drop when you visit the club, which will then give you leverage. The person who referred might get a referral reward of some kind too, which is great for them.
Ask your friends what they think of their clubs. Use this information to not only help you decide where you will go, but to help you be the person with inside information when you talk to the sales people at the club. If you hear about something cool, you can praise that. If you hear about a bad rumor, you can use it as a reason you need a great deal to overcome it.
If you already have gone through a sales presentation and have the prices on a club written down, you have a serious leverage tool at another club. You can simply ask them to beat the deal, hands down. Make sure that you really do have the lowest price from the other club first, of course, otherwise you might be making it too easy for the latter club and end up in a pinch where their regular price is already lower and you feel pressured to buy it immediately.
Finally, you may need to shop these clubs by going on tours, utilizing the techniques found within. You need to get in the practice of window-shopping if you ever hope to find the right deal for you. This is a fun and rewarding experience, especially if you are moving about town on free week passes, which are readily available everywhere in today’s market. Sometimes you can even ask for and get a free month, just to try it out. In a way, this is one method to almost never pay for a membership. Shop the club on a free pass, then another club, and then another. Finally, by the time you circle back to the original one, they may not even remember you anymore and you can get another free trial. They may have you in their computer system, but you can explain that you haven’t been there in so long, you aren’t sure if it will work for you in your current situation and with your current schedule and you need to try again. It might not work, but who cares, you just worked out at 25 clubs for free for 6 months. Your body could be transformed already!
The Thorough Answer…
How much do you spend on your health right now? How much is your health and fitness worth to you? These are pretty good questions that you should ask yourself. Of course, the local gym knows that you have probably thought about these and other questions for at least a fraction of a second before calling about its advertisement. They are willing to bet a huge sum of money that you will eventually give lots of your money to them, thereby putting them in a power position to take advantage of the next trillion-dollar industry: wellness.
Memberships in health clubs and fees for fitness services vary widely, not only by location, but also due to seasonal fluctuations and now due to economic trends. In fact, making sense of pricing can be as crazy as trying to track the stock market.
First, let’s go over a little history in order for you to have context for the techniques. The advantage of understanding this is that you will have a better understanding of how the system and “the man” works in this industry.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, the fitness industry was just starting to position itself as a duplicable business model, mostly stemming out of the European health spa concept. The early clubs were mostly large expensive facilities with pools. The idea of neighborhood iron-pumping, free-weight gyms was still a mostly unknown concept other than in schools, and you would be more likely to run into a boxing gym or a gymnastics gym than you would one of these Venice Beach Arnold Schwarzenegger concepts. The general public hadn’t grabbed onto the importance or necessity of strength training.
Of the initial attempts that resembled free-weight gyms, many quickly folded and even those that did well had the ongoing challenge of educating and persuading the general public to see the value of these methods of fitness in the first place.
In those early days, it was common for get-rich-quick salesmen from other industries to be attracted to the early entrepreneur owners with the appeal of capitalizing on a fairly new concept. The sales force had the challenge of educating the consumer on the need for exercise and then, once they built the need high enough, demanded large sums of money to supply them with health services and memberships. It was common in this time for the clubs to offer lifetime memberships for one large chunk of cash up front.
Many things have changed since this time. For one, the average consumer for the most part no longer needs to be educated in the importance of fitness and health. The public is continually bombarded by media information from all sides of the importance of exercise and diet. As the business model began to change to smaller neighborhood clubs, many large facilities went out of business due to high-overheads, acquisitions, ownership disagreements and the like, leaving many consumers with useless lifetime memberships to a defunct club. Class-action lawsuits were often the result, which led to a shake out in the fitness industry as a whole.
In the 1990’s and 2000’s, the consumer demand increased beyond the level of a luxury concept. Fierce competition glutted the market; this combined with bad press from poor early business practices to create a trend toward lower commodity pricing. In other words: what is special about this or any gym? “I just need a place to workout” took the place of “I have been told I need to do something to improve my health and I need trained professionals to tell me how to do it; guide, track, and coach my progress, in a unique, lavish, and expensive environment.” It didn’t take long for the lifetime membership concept to be wiped out completely (by the market and by law), and even for the yearly membership contract to begin to fade away. The new consumer wanted low commitment and low price and didn’t know how long they would even want to stay put in one place.
The fitness industry responded with month-to-month memberships on automatic draft from credit cards and checking accounts. Electronic Funds Transfer, or EFT, became the primary method for a club to appease (or trick) the new consumer so that they could have the privilege of month-to-month payments while club management retained control of an agreement that allowed them to keep charging the customer even if they didn’t use their membership. To be fair to the club owners, how else could they run this type of membership business and make a profit if you only paid when you used it? Perhaps the clubs of the future will have a strong enough consumer base, with a cultural bias towards working out regularly, to support such a business model, but for the most part any clubs of the old school who dare to try full-on pay-as-you-go would certainly go under.
And here we are today in a time of great opportunity …
Although some clubs may still push the annual membership contract, the changes in the economy, recession, and fitness industry shakeouts make this the perfect time to find or create deals with health clubs. Not only are clubs constantly changing their “requirements” for customers, sometimes they will respond to competitors slashing prices by removing or modifying agreements, dropping fees, and all manner of desperate attempts to get new cash in the door. If you’re still paying $540 per year, you’re living in the twentieth century. With the tools you’ll discover in this book you’ll cut your $540 spent each year into $180 or less.
In other words, if you’re in the market for a deep discount, you can find one.
How much money you save will depend greatly on your area and your individual situation. It will also depend on how many of these techniques and strategies you put into practice. Your mind-set will be critical to maximizing your savings. This leads us to the next lesson to fully understand what you are going to be dealing with. In the next chapter, you are going to learn exactly how to zoom in on your victim and get laser sharp focused on your target so that you can land yourself a bull’s-eye deal!
The median annual cost for a new gym member is a whopping $775 as of this writing (which will have most likely increased by the time you read this), according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a trade group for the health club industry. This amount is based on a sample of IHRSA gyms. Of course, this could vary depending on your location. A nice gym in the city is going to cost more than a run down warehouse in a rural community. In my experience, the median price is pushed down by the latter type of businesses, so most of us are going to be paying more than the median if we want to work out in a good environment.
If you are going to invest money or keep investing money in a health club membership, then you need to realize that it is a major purchase. Although traditionally categorized as discretionary spending, the fact is that fitness is a lifestyle choice and requires a long-term view. This means you will be investing in your health for as long as you want to keep it. If you are 30 years old, and you want to live a long and fit life, then you might be working out at a gym for 50 more years.
This means you could spend on the order of $30,000 to $60,000 in your fitness membership lifetime ($38,750, based on the median listed earlier), plus another $250,000 in related products and services such as training, massages, chiropractic, tanning, day care, and supplements. With your $300,000 would you like to purchase a new home or a healthy lifestyle? Of course, these figures could vary wildly depending on the individual, and these numbers represent someone taking advantage of all the offers available to him or her in a decent facility.
According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), home exercise equipment sales more than doubled during the past 10 years, a decade in which health club memberships also saw a 63 percent increase. A closer look reveals the number of people who exercise more than twice per week remained stagnant during this time, despite increased sales. Furthermore, SGMA reports that fitness equipment goes unused in nearly one-fifth of equipment-owning households and annual health club turnover rates hover around 30 to 40 percent. Not surprisingly, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics indicate that despite increased spending on equipment, the American waistline continues to expand. An estimated 64 percent of adults are either overweight or obese—a number that grows constantly every year.
Hopefully by now you can see that the decision to buy a gym membership to invest in your health for optimal results is probably going to be more than $29 for the gimmicky abdominal machine at home or an occasional jog through your neighborhood for free. This illustrates a very important point, however. If you really want to avoid spending money then you don’t need the fitness industry at all, other than some free information off the Internet or from your weekend warrior friends. You do, however, get what you pay for, and you don’t get what you don’t pay for. Bottom line: The best way to save money on a fitness membership is not to buy one. Just like car sales, the worst auto accidents happen on the showroom floors.
If you want great equipment, convenience, education, support and training, and a social atmosphere that is far more conducive to you getting into shape than your living room entertainment center, then you probably do need a health club, or personal training program, and are doing the best thing you possibly can in reading this information first. If you want optimal health, rather than adequate health, this book is for you. Assuming you have convinced yourself of the value of a membership or a fitness service, the rest of this material will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. If you already belong to a club, then you absolutely must read this to understand the system and process you are currently being subjected to so that you can best take advantage of potential savings. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.
A young man came walking down a path towards a town, when he encountered an old man. “What kind of people live in the town up ahead?” inquired the boy. The old man pondered the question for a moment and then replied, “Well, what kind of people reside in the town you come from?” To which the boy said, “Oh, where I come from the town is full of cheats and thieves and no-good scoundrels that will take every opportunity to ruin you and steal the shirt right off your back.” After a brief pause, the old man reported to the boy, “Yup. That is pretty much the type of people you will find in the town up ahead.”
A while later another boy came up the path to the old man. The second boy asked the man, “Sir, what kind of people live in the town up ahead?” To which the old man replied, “What kind of people live in the town you left?” The boy said, “Well, sir, in the town I come from the people are kind and friendly, and will give you the shirt off their back if you need it.” The old man simply looked at the boy and said, “Yes, boy, I reckon that is exactly the type of people you will find in the town up ahead.”
Moral: You will find what you are looking for. In my fifteen years in the fitness industry, I have seen everything and heard everything. The stories that stick are usually the ones that are the ugliest. Anywhere money can be made, you can expect to find some sharks and some snakes. The people who foster long lasting relationships, however are the ones who create the opportunities to make honest money in the first place, and then build careers upon solid opportunities and relationships.
My purpose in this “health club exposé” is not to belittle all those fitness sales managers that are driving to increase fitness club sales. It is not to berate an industry that provided a living for me for many years. Rather, it is to help the average consumer steer through the muck and the volatile pricing of the ever-changing health club environment to make sure that they get exactly what they want: an opportunity to achieve their fitness goals at the lowest cost and with the least impact on their financial well-being.
Health and finances are linked. Good health can contribute to your ability to improve your finances. Good finances can help you enjoy your health.
If, however, you paid:
· $300 to “enroll” in a program that promised you health;
· An additional $78 per month for your ongoing dues;
· $45 per month for your spouse;
· $29 for each child;
· Not to mention the $25 “processing fee”;
· And the $5 increase in inflation dues because they upgraded the equipment (they cleaned the old stuff and moved in some other old equipment from their other, newer club);
Only to find that you:
· Only used the club for the first three weeks;
· Your spouse never got around to going after the initial visit;
· And nine months later your children are not even aware there is a membership;
Then YOU’VE BEEN HAD.
Does this sound like an exaggeration? How about paying “only” $500 for the entire year for your entire family and then never using the membership? Don’t think this hasn’t happened many times over! I am here to tell you that if you ever paid more than $250 for an entire year membership, you paid way too much. In fact, in this book, How to Get an Unbelievable Deal on Your Gym Membership, you will learn so many sure-fire, rock-solid methods of getting ridiculous deals in health clubs that you may find yourself having a blast getting in the best shape of your life without ever paying a dime.
See the 20/20 Investigation of Gyms
Transcript for Confessions From the Gym: Paying By the Pound
Reporter: We are on the streets of new york city with models abby smith and kristin garofalo. Abc news has hired them because pe trainer ryan hugh- come with me. Reporter: -- Is confessing something about gyms we had to see to believe.
Most of the time at these large corporate gyms you're going to get a better rate if you're thin and attractive rather than overweight. Reporter: Ryan's skinny on gyms, if you're fit and thin like kristin, you're going to get a better deal at the gym than heavier people like abby. Why?
Because ryan says trainers think hot chicks boost their business. Having an attractive person on the floor is always a win-win. Reporter: At our first stop, abby thinks she got a great deal from an expanding national fitness chain.
I just got an email. He said it was great meeting me and he's going to set me up with my complimentary guided workout. Reporter: But kristin is about to open abby's eyes to how gym's really do business.
What my sales advisor said to me was that he can waive the $200 initiation fee. Oh. Reporter: It's a $200 savings abby is never even offered.
Could it be a fluke? We drive abby and kristin a few blocks away. How'd it go?
It went well. He said my monthly rate is $152. Different?
Yeah! Reporter: Yeah, different. This time, kristin gets a $276 break on her annual membership -- the numbers don't even compare.
Why wouldn't you offer the exact same rate to everybody that comes in your gym? That's ridiculous to me! Reporter: But if you think it couldn't get any worse -- it does.
We head downtown -- to one of new york's boutique gyms and this time, there's no questioning why kristin gets the better deal. Okay, I got "the model's discount. " Reporter: That so-called "model's discount" is a whopping $706 a year savings for kristin.
Get out! Am I surprised, not at all. This kinda thing happens all the time.
If you're going to bring five, ten people into this gym by just coming in and work out and looking good, then they are gonna bring you into the gym. Not bad, unless you're plus-sized abby. In total, we went to four gyms -- three of them national chains -- and the results were always the same.
I never would have expected it. I never would have. Reporter: And ryan says women like abby should expect something else -- high pressure sales tactics to play on her insecurities and a "sell, sell, sell" mentality.
Reporter: So are the gyms looking for easy money? Membership is huge, and then of course, selling a personal trainer. Reporter: Remember that e-mail abby got just minutes after inquiring about a membership?
What you don't know is the gym offered to waive her initiation fee. Reporter: But? But, I had to sign up for some training sessions which were $100 apiece.
Reporter: You had to? In order to get the initiation fee waived, yeah. Reporter: Ryan says the name of the game is signing folks up for long-term, upfront contracts with the anticipation those new members will never clock a single burned calorie on the treadmill.
Two years down the road you are getting with a gym membership and you have never gone once. Reporter: Have you met or come across trainers who were frauds? I am sure there are trainers out there that are probably doing this strictly to make a buck.
Getting a little pumped there, huh? Reporter: What do you get for your money? I recently worked out with ryan in this south florida gym.
He put me through the ringer. And confessed something you won't want to hear. Ryan admits, he, and other trainers like him, secretly enjoy watching us sweat and suffer.
Have you ever had anybody weep on you? Any crying? Maybe not some crying, but a couple of throw-ups.
Reporter: Really? Uh, people who toss their cookies in the trash can a little bit, yeah. Reporter: That's gotta make you feel great.
I will admit, there is a small bit of satisfaction that you get. Out of making a client puke. It doesn't happen all of the time, but when do you, it's kind of an internal, "yes!
" Reporter: But ryan's about to reveal the biggest secret of all? So you wanna know what goes on behind these muscles? Reporter: Wanna look like this?
Ryan says you're never going to unless you quit day job. Ryan's regimen borders on religion. He works out every day -- sometimes twice a day -- three hours or more.
His diet is not only rigorous, but monastic. So ryan, when was the last time you had a beer? It's been a couple of years for a beer.
Reporter: It's that whole cult of fitness and "looks-ism" that has sople screaming "enough! " Every single day, people get scared to go to the gym. People are afraid of being judged.
People are afraid of getting charged too much. Reporter: At downsize fitness in chicago, justin hazlett now only sells gym memberships to clients who are 50 pounds overweight or heavier. Women like abby smith.
She would be our next client. And this one, she'd be shown the door. Reporter: There's no "model discount" for kristin here.
Skinny clients are banned from joining this gym -- and for good reason. I felt like in the gyms that I've been to before I've always been discriminated against just because of my size, for how much I weigh. Reporter: Back in new york city, abby smith and kristin garafolo are still shaking their heads over that jaw dropping $706 "model's discount.
" I want to go back into the gim gym with abby and go "hey, listen, this was my rate, and this is gonna be her rate too! Let me speak to your gm! Reporter: And, so we did.
We were greeted by the general manager who insisted at his gym there is no price scale-no "wiggle room" for his 1,400 members. We never change our pricing. Reporter: How can that be?
That's just something that we never compromise. We're a luxury brand, we don't discount our pricing. Reporter: What if I told you that we actually had two people come in here and they got vastly different prices.
I'd be very surprised to hear that. Reporter: Really? Yes?
Do you recognize either of these two ladies? He doesn't recognize either abby or kristin, but quickly begins to backpedal on that "one-size-fits-all" membership pricing policy. Is there something called a "model's discount?
" Uh, not -- there are partnerships that we have with businesses. She's probably part of a modeling agency we have a partnership. Reporter: No, I don't think so.
How does this work? Do you pay by the pound? I mean she's also a model.
If she's heavier, she pays more? We don't create deals on the fly for how someone looks. Never.
Reporter: The salesperson who saw this person automatically assumed that she was a model. The salesperson that saw this person did not. Well -- that was a misjudgment.
Reporter: All right, so abby can come here if she chooses and get the same deal? Correct. Well that's interesting.
That's nice. Reporter: Was there anything that really surprised you about this experience? I still don't want to believe it, really.
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