Finances & Money Saving Money

Unused Gym Memberships Waste Money (And Are A Boon To Gym Owners)

unused gym memberships

I spent almost $800 on a gym membership a few years ago. It was the most embarrassing waste of money I ever spent. Going to the gym is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that most people, like me, have no intention of going regularly. Paying for a membership is not motivation within itself to lose weight or getting into beach going shape.

Getting healthy or wanting to like what you see in the mirror, and the real commitment to work toward that goal should be the motivation. Yet, most people give up and only go to a private gym after a handful of time. (I went about 10 times before giving up.) Or, never go at all after paying for a membership.

The 80% With Unused Gym Memberships

Over 80% of people give up and stop patronizing a private gym not long after they pay for membership. About 60 million Americans are members of a private gym or fitness center that requires membership and monthly dues. Of the 20% who do patronize gyms that they pay membership privileges for, only 10% will actually go to that gym 100 times or more in a year.

The average monthly gym membership in the United States is about $60, although it can certainly be more for more exclusive gyms. That means that the average gym membership costs over $700 a year. When adding in initiation fees, equipment fees, and other fees required by some more exclusive gyms, that cost can easily be $800, $900 or better. Most people mistake prepaying for a gym membership that they subconsciously know they will never use as proper motivation to work out.

It’s a horrendous waste of money. I speak from personal experience, not as a righteous judge of character. Also, when you pay for a gym membership you don’t use, you are paying into a profiting strategy employed by most gym and fitness club owners. They know most applicants won’t show up at all or regularly. And they use this information to their financial advantage.

The Gym Owner’s Financial Stratagem

There is no question that many gyms and fitness clubs are packed to capacity with members jockeying for time on popular exercise machines. However, that usually happens at gyms located in dense population areas. A lot of gyms, depending on the time of day, are lucky to be a third or half capacity full of members on a daily basis. So, how do gyms make money if it is a statistical fact that most members don’t show up?

Gym owners know that over 80% of the people who sign up for membership will give up or never show up. They estimate their profit margins on the probability of you never showing up. So, almost all gyms sign up more members than they can realistically accommodate in their facilities. You can do the math if you consider that the average monthly fee is $60 or better.

Also, it behooves you to check the fine print if you do join a gym. If you join a gym and pay by debit or credit card, there may be a stealthily employed auto-renewal of monthly membership clause that you must voluntarily can opt-out of. Most gym owners know that most people join a join as a motivation to lose weight and probably don’t read the fine print of application.

Gym owners also know that a good percentage of people who are aware of the auto-renewal clause may not cancel it. They know such people may just procrastinate and project their motivation for going to the gym for the next month, or the month after that, and so on. Any way you slice it, gym owners make money by your misplaced motivations to lose weight.

Motivate Yourself

Apply to gyms that have a free membership trial to see if you can commit. Try to sign up with a friend for added motivation. Look for any free, public exercise events near you. Research how to workout safely at home or look up fitness videos on Youtube. There are many ways for you to find the motivation to lose weight. Wasting money should not be one of them.

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About the author

Allen Francis

1 Comment

  • I’m a member of Planet Fitness and pay $10 per month. The company is growing and making lots of money. But I’ve always figured that they aren’t making money on me. I go an average of 3-4times per week, and put plenty of wear and tear on the equipment I use. Having owned a treadmill in the past, I know how expensive they are to purchase and to keep up. But, I figure that for every person like me, there’s probably 3-4 others that don’t show up but at all yet keep paying the monthly fee. In fact, the $10 is a great price, because it’s likely low enough that many people won’t even bother canceling even if they realize they aren’t using it, figuring that they’ll just start up again ‘next month’.

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