Friday, July 9, 2010

Cheapest Months to Join a Gym

As someone who had worked in the past at a major corporate chain fitness center, I want to let you know a little known secret. The best months to join a commercial gym are July and August. That’s when you get the cheapest prices, because they are the slowest months of the year for membership sales.

Although I was never a membership sales rep (I was a nutritionist and trainer when I worked at a corporate gym), I became friends with the sales representatives and I learned a lot of the in's and out's of every aspect of the business.

During the two slow summer months, the management still puts enormous pressure on the sales staff to meet their sales quota. The sales reps are quite desperate for new members to sign on. Therefore, you have the upper hand in manipulating them for a lower price quote, if you play your cards right.

The sales representatives have the flexibility to quote a higher or lower price (within certain limits), but they will pretend as if they don’t have the flexibility or authority to do so. They will pretend that the prices are more fixed than they actually are. When they realize that they have to lower the price in order to get you to sign, they will pretend to “ask the manager” for a lower price.

There are also a few other pointers in order for you to join a gym at the lowest price possible. Here’s the complete list:

(1) Join in July or August.
(2) Join as a group. While you are inquiring about prices, let them know your intention to get a bunch of people to sign up with you. Ask them how many people you will need to get a group discount. (They would be happy to sign your group up. This is very good for them to get their manager off their backs. When their manager constantly asks how many people they've signed, it is good for them to say five [although at a discounted group price] instead of one.)
(3) Ask also for further discount for paying upfront for a full year or two years.
(4) Get from them all the documents you would have to sign and the quoted price from them to take home, while you get the group of people together. I recommend having a legal expert read over the documents, or at least read them very carefully yourself several times.

I know someone who by applying these pointers got a quote of $215 total per person for two years (joining as a group of five people, all paying upfront) at a major corporate fitness center three years ago. It was essentially a two year contract since they were paying upfront for two years.

Again, the good thing about inquiring about the price before you put together your group is that you can take the documents home to have an expert examine them (or at least examine yourself). While you are getting people together, you could give the sales rep a call in two weeks or so (if he hasn’t called you already) to let him know you do not have enough people yet. Chances are, he will lower the price for you because he is desperate for your group business in the slow months.

Another thing to consider is – do you really want to join a corporate fitness center? You have to be VERY cautious. Generally, you should only join if you can afford to commit for at least two years. Beware that memberships are usually attached with contracts of two years or longer. Also, beware of free trials or trials at reduced rates. I’ve known cases of people who’ve signed up for a month of reduced rate only to find out later on that they were contractually bound to two years (because of some hidden terms in the signed documents.) It's almost fraudulent, but are we really surprised that major corporations are using underhanded tactics? This is why it is important to have a legal expert read through all the documents before you sign ANYTHING. If you don't have access to a legal expert, at least have someone good at reading business and legal documents. You should also read it at least three times yourself.

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Shu Chan 陳樹中