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!