I’m sick and tired of hearing gym owners talk about wanting to change to a $10/month business model.

“Well Planet Fitness and every other cheap fitness center seems to be doing well, I think I’ll try that too.”

To me it’s laziness.

It takes a lot of effort and time to offer the best service in town. But it takes nothing to drop your price to $10 and watch the people rush to become members.

And there will be a rush, there always is when something with so much perceived value is offered at such a low price. But a) your gym is now full and everyone is pissed because they can’t get on any equipment, and b) you can’t afford enough staff to keep them all happy.

There are more problems with this model though:Low-Priced-Competitor

1. What stops the next gym from coming along and becoming the $9 business model in town. That will put you out of business real quick because the price sensitive people who join for $10 will certainly leave you for a cheaper price.

It blows my mind when people willingly get into a price war. No one wins in a price war. Even if you win, you lose because you’re stuck with a bunch of cheap people who crowd your gym and will question every time you try to charge them for something additional. Cheap prices attract cheap people.

2. You have no margins to be able to provide value to your members and clients. This is the biggest reason I see not to offer less than you are worth. It is 100% impossible to be the best service provider in town, as well as the lowest price. You just don’t have profits available to build a solid infrastructure.

Think about Walmart. Have you ever had an amazing customer service experience at Walmart? Of course not. Walmart makes very little profit from each store. In order to make any profit at all, they hire the worst of the worst. I hate Walmart. Not only does it attract smelly people, it attracts angry employees. If you increase profits, you increase the talent you have providing service.

3. You need volume. BIG volume. To generate 500k in revenue this year, you only need 416 people willing to buy $100 worth of your services. But if you’re a $10 model, with no extra amenities you can sell, you will need 4,160 members to reach your goal. Are there even 4,160 people in your immediate area who would join? Likely not.

4. It turns fitness memberships into a commodity. We are better than that. I know how tempting it is to make the switch if you’re having difficulty competing in your market, but you are hurting the industry. Can you name any other product that hasn’t increased in price in the past 2 years? Gym memberships are the only thing I can think of that hasn’t been affected by inflation; and by devaluing your service you are devaluing the entire industry.

Don’t think I’m naive and I don’t see how profitable this model can be. There are many gyms who have proven this model can make some serious money.  In fact we even helped a struggling big box gym successfully transition to a value model (the only one in a 100 mile radius, but it made me feel icky to do it.  But the conditions have to be right because aside from the “moral” reasons, it is very very difficult for an average gym to make the switch and expect the same result.

Most people demand more than four walls and some equipment. People have bigger health problems that demand better service to help them, and it’s only getting worse.  Which means you have a growing opportunity to help more people.  You can’t help people the way they need to be helped at $10/month. It is literally impossible.

I think Planet Fitness and the other $10 brands who are first in their markets will make some decent revenues, and it is smart business.  But man do I hate it.

With the low cost/high volume model, costs will increase, facility maintenance needs will increase, competitors will undercut you, you will constantly have staff turnover, and you will have to deal with crazy stress levels trying to balance it all.

If you believe that you offer the best results and the best service in town, you need to be the highest price provider in town. If you offer average results and average service, you need to be among the average prices in town.

You answer the question, if you are the lowest price provider in town, what does that say about your results and service?

That’s right, they’re the lowest too.

I’ll say it again…you cannot provide the best service and the lowest price. You get what you pay for and your prospects know it. The ones that take the chance on you will soon find out that they get nothing for their monthly dues…and they will leave the first chance they get.

It is a very attractive business model, but it is unsustainable. Feel free to argue with me, but unless you have the financial backing and the economy of scale that PF and a few others have right now, you can’t keep up.

If you’re stuck in the middle with average pricing and average services just like most of the gyms in your market…and you want to differentiate yourself, I encourage you to increase your prices right now, NOT decrease them.  It’s not as scary as you might think.

Let’s say you have 1,000 members each paying $40. If you bump your price to $44, how many members would cancel? I would argue not many, but let’s assume 100 members cancel. Guess what, you’re still making the same monthly revenues because while you lost 10% of your membership, you’re also charging 10% more.

AND all future members will be paying the higher price. This gives you the ability to provide $4 per month more value to each member…OR it allows you the ability to finally pay yourself a salary that is reflective of what you’re worth.

I encourage you to argue with me or agree with me or add your own opinions to the discussion below.

  1. Bill says:

    I completely agree, low cost is even lower service!

    • Nate says:

      I like to think of everything in terms of “good, better and best”. An affordable gym membership is “good” but personal training is “best”. I think the problem lies in the misconception that people have. A large part of this misconception is in the gym industry’s marketing messages – “join our gym and get in great shape…”.

      In reality, a gym membership is simply a means of gaining access to tools. Tools that can be used safely and effectively in order to get the desired outcome. Most often though, these tools are not fully understood, used properly, used enough or at all.

      The mistake is in comparing these fitness solutions, as if they are alike. I like to use the analogy of building a house. You can have all of the tools and materials necessary to build a home, but without the blueprints and the proper training, you are at a loss for building a quality structure.

      This, I feel, is the strongest and most important message we need the public to understand. It is then, that the price of these solutions become significantly irrelevant.

      There is also an issue of devaluing services. When a company offers cheap or “free” personal training, or even claims to, they are lowering the perceived value of our services. Personal training is not personal training. This is the second strongest message that needs to be conveyed and understood.

      Providing 30 or 60 minutes of exercise, or simply taking clients through workouts, is a slap in the face when compared to true personal fitness training services.

      Statistically, most trainers don’t make it to the 2 yr mark in their profession. This means that most of these trainers out there treat this as a job, rather than a career. Why should someone pay more money for a service, when a majority of it’s providers are not serious about what they are providing?

      16 yrs in this business, I have seen that most of our fellow trainers fail to even write programs for their clients, track workouts, do regular assessments, offer thorough nutritional guidance, or lead their clients toward any type of predictable or planned outcome.

      In my opinion, the $10 or $15 a month gyms are not the issue here. It is; 1.) The quality of service provided in our industry, and 2.) The perception of that service, as it relates from one trainer to another, as well as in the comparison of having a gym membership or a personal trainer.

    • Jeff says:

      What do you have when you have a $10/mo member. The answer: A $10/mo member and that is it. These people are not likely to buy more services / products from a facility as they see very little value in the health club membership. Hence they only will pay $10/mo.

      The $10/ mo membership drives and compresses the market downward and as stated in many of the pots it creates a commodity out of this business.

      The true value of gym membership is provided not only by the equipment but buy the staff that helps people everyday to accomplish their goal.

      I believe that everyone here in this forum would agree that a gym membership offers more value to people then a pack of cigarettes. (Sorry not picking on people that smoke) So why is a pack of cigarettes worth (avg. costs / pak $5) more then a $10/ gym membership. Do you not believe that paying $40/mo. for a membership is of greater value not only to the member but to the industry. Versus $5/day on a pack of cigarettes ($150/mo). Just my thoughts…

    • NO HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARE WE CRAZY 10.00 IF THAT IS THE NEW BUISNESS MODEL . THAN I MIGHT AS WELL GET A JOB AT WALMART!

    • gale sweet says:

      Surely the whole point of budget is that if you cut out the frills (sauna, steam, pool) and provide a great gym only you can substantially lower your price.

      In the Uk the gyms charging £30 don’t actually give a better service than those charging £19.00 consequently the middle ground gyms are completely losing out to both the top end, who do give great service and facilities and the budget end who just provide a great gym.

  2. You are obviously talking about these budget gyms that have now sprouted up around the world. The overwhelming majority of gym members never attend. In fact gyms will have lots of people pay their monthly subscription but never attend.

    If you join a gym they may take an interest in you for the first few weeks but the story I tell you happens inevitably. Nobody shows you how to use the gym equipment. Nobody devises a custom made training programme for you so you reach your fitness goals. Nobody keeps you coming regularly. Nobody checks your nutrition. Nobody reviews your programme. As a result people attend like mad in the first few weeks and then life gets in the way and people drift.

    With a personal trainer like myself there is the camaraderie of group training. You’ll make great friendships and trust me if you drift the others will hold you accountable. I will monitor your attendance. I will also ensure that you have a tailor made programme and I’ll keep you on track.

    If you are a gym member consider this. Most gyms charge £30 a month although there are more expensive ones. That’s £360 a year. Most people only attend a handful of times.

  3. Kieran Dolan says:

    There is a race to the bottom with facilities around the world. I made this mistake last year and it nearly cost me my livelihood. Remember there is no money at the bottom. The best thing I did was raise my rates. I’m not as busy but my profits have increased.

    • Curtis Mock

      Not being as busy is a good thing. I know most trainers think they want a full schedule; but sometimes, as long as you’re making the salary you want, that extra time can be used to strategize how to work smarter, fine tune processes in the business, or to actually have a hobby or spend time with loved ones. Your comment and situation is a perfect example of the benefit of raising rates rather than decreasing rates.

  4. Eric Stephenson says:

    Lazy is a great word to describe owners who choose that model. The answer to every complaint from a member concerning crowding, lack of help, parking, etc. is “It’s only $10/month”.
    The owners of those clubs will even admit that their business model is designed to encourage members to keep paying while at the same time discouraging them from attending. For members who are able to workout at any time of day, it’s a great deal. For those who have to work normal business hours, it’s a terrible deal. So some members would gladly pay more, and some members actually should pay less, since they can never get a workout in because its too crowded.
    I would even contend that gyms charging $10/month are committing fraud. When a member joins, they do so with the implied understanding that they will be able to have access to the equipment when they go in to workout. But as it turns out, that’s not the case. A good analogy is when the airlines used to let you earn frequent flyer miles but then you could never use them because they would only designate a very small number of seats per flight that someone could use those miles to get. The government made them change that practice.
    There are many more reasons, but I’ll just list one more. By only charging $10/month, the gym is telling the public that gyms should cost $10/month. Even if a person never joins that kind of club, they get sticker shock when they actually do go to a gym to consider joining. Because of that, they probably won’t join, so a person who was ready to make the commitment to join a gym and improve their life ends up not joining, and heads back home to sit on the couch and watch tv.
    So in essence, the $10 gyms accomplish the exact opposite of what they should. Those owners have put making money ahead of changing lives, and if that trend continues, it will lead to the demise of our industry. And it won’t take long to happen. The next step will be $9/month, then $8, etc., until only those with the deepest pockets can survive, and even they won’t be making money.

    • Curtis Mock

      I’m with you. That’s the worst thing of this pricing model…people will now think that fitness should cost no more than $10/month. It makes our jobs more difficult. But at the same time it forces us to step up our game. You’ve never seen a gym scramble to improve their offering like a gym that finds out a $10 gym is coming to town. Just stay ahead of the curve, provide more value than you charge, and you will be just fine.

  5. Hi Guys, We compete with a bunch of the $10 gyms. We even tell folks we are not $10 you will get what you get for $10! Those places usually hit you with a $30 maintenance fee 6 months after you have joined. They don’t tell you they just charge you. Cancel….oh yeah….$100! They don’t tell you! Our gym is about as clean as you can get. It cost to keep it that clean. Germ free….almost….that cost too. So yes…you want to attract the right folks….that will clean the machines after you use them….the $10 folks ….not so much. So yes…just drive over to your nearest $10 Gym……watch who walks out the door…..do you want to use a machine after that person???? I doubt it:}:} I am just saying:}:}:}

    • Curtis Mock

      That’s another thing I didn’t mention. Most people don’t realize that around half of the memberships sold at these facilities end up being $20/month. They advertise $10, put $10 in the mind of the public, then put enough stipulations on their $10 option that causes people to choose the $20 option. From a business standpoint, brilliant. From a betterment of the industry standpoint, crap. I’m a capitalist through and through, but I couldn’t sleep at night if my business provides empty promises of improved health, and puts other gyms out of business. Survival of the fittest I suppose, and it’s always been a part of our world…but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  6. Steven says:

    $10 per month clubs take the same risk that full service clubs make. Invest in a facility, build it out and hope you get enough members to cover the cost +. I’ve been to clubs that charge $49-$69 per month and the only service you get is an assessment when you first join. If you want more you have to pay a trainer. And if that club is popular you have to sign up for cardio equipment too. Open you eyes people. Put pencil to paper and most of you will shut down your group fitness program because it is losing you money each year. But you think it is a service you must have. I could go on but this is not the right forum. $10 clubs provide a service and get thousands of people who would never join a club to start a program. They serve as a starting point just like Curves did and does for the industry. At some point members will want more and your service clubs can and will provide it for them. You just need the right marketing strategies to get them.

    • Curtis Mock

      I kind of agree with you, but mostly I disagree. I think there might be some people that spend their $10, get shit service, get fatter, realize their mistake, and look for a better alternative. So your theory I believe can be true for a very small select group of people.

      But I believe the majority of the people who join at $10, now feel that is what fitness is worth. Not only that but they believe that since they had a bad experience, got fatter after paying for fitness, they will decide that a gym isn’t the right option for them. Then they’re even more lost as they try to figure out how to improve their health.

  7. Nick says:

    I wish that was my situation. I have 2 competitors that have one price, that is the same or even slightly higher priced than my club for the general public but they offer a substantially lower price than what I offer for anyone of my members who happen to visit. One even calls “The _____ Switch” just to specifically switch the members of my gym.

    • Curtis Mock

      I’m no lawyer (shocker!) but if it were me, I would look into whether there is some level of slander involved. And if they have your name printed or written somewhere as a membership option, I would think some level of libel might be present.

      If it’s a big enough problem, either a) seek legal advice, b) just focus on providing the best service possible…if people switch and they like you better, they’ll switch back, or c) change your business model. If you are all three providing the same service at the same or similar price, then I would have to say you are to blame for not making adjustments when adjustments are necessary.

      It sucks, and it takes a lot of effort, but you can’t be reactive to your competitors. Always stay ahead of the curve and be proactive so that you don’t get yourself caught like this.

      If you want, send me their name and I’ll send my people over to break their thumbs.

  8. Mason B. says:

    Good points. I don’t see the $10/month model as having long term sustainability. At some point, those machines will get run down (much sooner than a regular gym) and have to be replaced, probably necessitating rate increases. Plus, I haven’t exactly heard rave reviews of the staff that these places hire. You can’t pay anyone much more than minimum wage on $10/month dues.

    • Curtis Mock

      Plus, like Maureen pointed out above, after a while the people with some expendable income will be grossed out by some of the types that a $10 gym will attract. I try not to judge other people and everyone gets the same respect, but I can choose not to go to a gym that smells like foot and has less than savory characters hanging around as members.

  9. Tom says:

    We have two low priced gyms in the area World Gym and Fitness 19 both are $10 a month and they are loaded with clients.
    We are not going that route and will maintain our current price structure. The $10 price is obviously a problem for us since we hear it constantly that these two gyms are cheaper. We respond by pointing out the obvious advantages of our facility but it seems to be of little effect. The trend will hopefully fail but we live in a very poor area of NY State where everyone is pinching pennies.

    • Curtis Mock

      If you see that a strategy isn’t working well (“maintaining your current price structure”) then change!

      Raise your rates, improve your offering, give more value, offer a low price introductory rate to let the price sensitive people experience the difference. I’m certain that once someone tries your service, they’ll see that it is worth exponentially more than the low price competitor.

  10. Terri says:

    I started in the video store industry (30 years ago) and we all know how that turned out. I opened my first club 20 years ago and I’m in a market dripping with fitness clubs of every kind. This is what I know, my video stores still exist and we make alot of money (for how long I don’t know) Cheap people will join cheap packed clubs everyday of the week and justify their choice because the price is right. My city also has a market for bootcamp style clubs that offer classes only (100.00 a month) and they are growing.
    I don’t think $10.00 a month clubs are going away, Crunch has become part of that game (growing a chain in my market)and they offer classes. They are also experts in up selling.
    Success can be found in any business model, but it won’t happen if you don’t constantly evolve.

    • Curtis Mock

      There are a couple chains that recognize the weakness of the PF model and they are offering some more amenities with membership. But those amenities cost money. So unless you’re charging extra above the $10, it’s going to take a massive amount of members to cover your monthly nut.

      That said, if someone were to try this model, the $10 should be the advertised price for equipment access, but there would be a high premium charged for better service and results.

  11. Barb says:

    IMO, it would depend on where your gym is located. In an economically depressed area I see a need for the cheaper model gym, as people who want to join simply cannot afford the fees of higher priced facilities. In this regard $10 a month gyms do fill that need. You get what you pay for and I’m certain those who join the $10 a month gyms know they won’t receive the same quality of equipment/service as would be offered at a higher priced gym. Maybe some food for thought: If you can afford to do it, why not open both! Offering a facility that charges $10 per month will get people to join who likely would never do so and then when they feel they’re able to afford it, offer them a membership at your higher grade facility. Heck, you could even advertize in your $10 a month club showing them what they’re missing out on by not joining your other gym! I call that a win win situation because you will entice people into the one club and groom them for a membership at the other one!

    • Curtis Mock

      Barb,
      If you’ll float me the loan to do it, I’ll give your theory a shot 😉

  12. Mike says:

    A lot of people make assumptions and generalizations regarding the 10.00 model. It used to be the obnoxiously colored, no amenities no services offered express club concept. I do agree that those (PF, YF and the other knockoffs) will flounder, rent escalations, attrition, equipment replacement will contribute but it will be boredom that kills them. There are more sophisticated operators who have figured out how to deliver a first class environment and experience and advertise 9.95. Look at fitness evolution they are the new leader and benchmark in my opinion.

    • Curtis Mock

      I’m familiar with them. And another group called Chuze out of San Diego offers a good program. They all advertise $10, but end up with closer to $30/month. I’m not saying it’s a bad business model for the front runners and the people with money. In fact, from a profitability standpoint, I’d say it’s a brilliant short term money making venture. I’m just saying it’s not smart for an existing gym to jump into those waters just because they see other operators making money.

      My biggest problem though, and forgive me for jumping on the soapbox, but as a whole, advertising fitness for $10 is damaging to the industry. I know that’s my bleeding heart side talking and not my capitalist side, but it pains me to see that instead of finally increasing our rates to keep up with inflation, we have drastically reduced the value of a gym membership with this model.

  13. Jeff says:

    I totally agree with what you’re saying and have been proving it since PF came to town. Initially the $10 price seemed like a big problem for us but we continued to grow. The idea of raising prices with minimum membership loss is true however I’m concerned that the higher price would make it tougher to attract new members that can’t yet appreciate what we have to offer.

    • Curtis Mock

      I’m a big fan of introductory offers and trials. I’m from the Show Me state, so if you aren’t able to prove your worth to me, then I will not buy from you.

      I wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it, I wouldn’t buy a house without inspecting it, and I wouldn’t join a gym without trying it. You can promote a trial, get them in, show them why you’re worth so much, then they’ll roll into your regular membership rates.

  14. Eric says:

    I am often reminded of the TV commercial a while back that featured a new barber in town charging $10 haircuts… the established barbers response was to put a big sign up that said “We fix $10 haricuts” – I like to use that analogy sometimes when talking about the budget clubs.

    We have a growing (pardon the pun) obesity epidemic in this country and while the $10 models may entice some to enter the market, our industry’s problem has never been the price of a membership.

    • Curtis Mock

      Well said Eric. And I love the haircut analogy. It doesn’t matter the price of your membership because without some help, nearly all people will fail to reach their fitness goals.

      People need more than a “good luck” as they start their gym membership. Whether they realize it initially or not, most people will fail when left to fend for themselves in a gym. It’s intimidating!

      No matter what price you charge, as a rule of thumb you should be delivering 10x the value.

  15. Harold otis says:

    I believe it all depends on the management and ownership on how well the gym operates as far as cleanliness and staff turnover. Yes gyms will be more crowded, but I am a Assistant general manager at a Gold’s gym and we have a great facility with plenty of options of equipment and we do offer training from certified trainers. We have a $9.99 and $19.99 which includes Les Miles classes and unlimited tanning. We also offer child care for our members. Everyone’s points are valid in regards to lazy owners in some locations but not all. We do charge a annual fee 4 months out, but even with our former membership we had a annual fee. We do not lock customers in a contract. With rates as low as ours, even if members leave not being locked into a contract eventually they will come back to our gym because we have the best rates and we offer just as much as the other gyms excluding a pool and basketball court.

    • Curtis Mock

      Hey Harold,
      I get it, I promise I do. No one wants to be stuck in the middle with everyone else at the $30-40/month range. So you have two ways to go. Increase prices and improve service or decrease prices and service suffers. No matter what, at $10 you can never provide the level of service I can provide at $100. But it is by far an easier option. I just don’t know if it can be sustainable.

      If done right the model can make money, no one argues that. And as I mentioned before, the capitalist in me loves the idea…if it’s done correctly with plenty of financial backing, a dense population, and no soul (just kidding)

      I’m consistently a member of at least 3 different gyms at any given time. And right now the $10 gym I’m a member of is adequate. But there is zero energy, all people are doing is renting equipment and mindlessly walking on a treadmill. AND during 5:00-7:00 time frame, it’s a bunch of frat boys and deadbeats ogling the girls in yoga pants. Not my scene, but it’s cheaper than going to the bar to pick up girls.

      I would be curious to know what your maintenance fees are compared to when you didn’t have the same volume. Ownership would really need to be proactive to not let the gym get run down, members to lose interest, and word to get out that the service quality just isn’t there.

      I know I’m giving the model you’re operating a lot of grief, but I know there are great operators like yourself out there. I just wish you would apply your passion and skills in an arena where you can have a massive impact on a few people rather than a negligible impact on lots of people.

  16. Trainer ToM says:

    I believe everyone has good points on this topic. I’ve seen PF first hand & these gyms are petty nice but basic. Which a lot of people like. I firmly believe in charging my value but with this economy & ever evolving fitness industry we have to learn to be more “creative.” It’s very similar to real estate…everyone thinks their house is worth more than their neighbors & they should get top dollar and that could very well be the case..but if 6 of your neighbors sell for 100k don’t expect people to come rushing to buy yours for 350k. The market psychology is strong. So unless your the only gym in town with a specific amenity or service you must be creative. Simple idea may or may not work keep your prices at your value but offer one economy plan..even PF has one for the ultra cheap! Lol my 2 cents

    • Curtis Mock

      I like that you mention “being the only gym in town with a specific amenity or service”. I think that’s what more gyms need to focus on. What makes you special?

      ANYONE can be the lowest price in town…for a while. It takes zero effort. But being the best service provider, or the results guaranteed provider, or the most energetic group training, or the best extra amenities, or the staff that always remembers your name (and your birthday)…those are things that take more effort but will pay off in the end.

      If you have 4,000 members, you can’t pay someone at the front desk enough to remember everyone’s name, much less their fitness goals or your last conversation with them.

      Find something that makes you unique, be the best at it, then tell the world about it.

  17. YES! $10/month memberships; dangerous weight-loss, quick-fix pills and cleanses and fad trends guaranteed to produce injuries!

    It’s unfortunate that money is the bottom line for so many–and, if they’re paying for a gym membership–even if they get nil to crappy service–it seems to lessen their guilt about not having a membership and not going.

    People will also think nothing of paying top dollar for a massage but think personal training sessions are too expensive. Passive vs. active activities and short-term benefit or life-lesson.

    • Curtis Mock

      It is funny what some people choose to spend their money on. A guy will pull up in a Range Rover, but then say he can’t afford a $40 gym membership. What? Here’s your sign.

      We need to be better at showing people the value in what we offer and why it’s a better use of their money that the massage or whatever else they spend their money on (though a massage is better than some other alternatives).

      It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, everyone plays this same game. There are low price providers, there are high price providers and there is everyone else in between. Each needs to identify what makes them unique, then they need to polish their presentation so that a prospect understands why the service is worth what the salesperson is asking them to pay.

      We need to be better at this. It’s easy for a $10 gym. “What makes you better than the gym down the street?” “We’re only $10”. The end.

      YOU have to work a little harder at it. But in the end you have great members who are working toward their goals, enough profits to provide the level of service they deserve, and you can sleep at night.

  18. Matt says:

    It’s all about the value. Look at Equinox. You can pay between $100 and $200 a month for membership but they have excellent customer service, it’s always clean and equipment is never broken.

    Now look at Bally before the were bought our by L.A. Fitness. $20/month, terrible customer service, everything was broken and old and you always felt dirty just being in there.

    It’s a matter of ethics. Can you sleep at night taking money without giving a good experience. In Bally’s experience, no.

  19. Steven says:

    So everyone is assuming that $10/ month clubs offer bad service. How wrong you are. They deliver exactly what they promise, which is great service. they do not promise to give you a trainer to set you up, they only promise to give you a place to exercise. The club I went to was very clean and they had so much cardio that you Never had to wait for a machine. Everyone on this blog seems to be misimformed as to what service is. By your thought process, all fast food restaurants stink because they are not offering gourmet food with superior waite staff. The $10 clubs will be here forever so get used to it. And, think about how many of your members that do not use your trainers and just come in and get their workout. My guess is a serious percentage of your members. Your SERVICE, may not even apply to those members. Wake up health club owners.

    • Jeff says:

      You’re right the $10 clubs will be here forever. However,
      we have found in our club that there is enough quality high hanging fruit coming from those clubs to ours because of over crowding and lack of motivational programs in the $10 clubs. The PF concept is good for a lot of people but most find it harder to stay serious about their goals without a support program of some sort. If all you needed was equipment we would all have a multi-station gym in our home.

  20. Missy says:

    Like the haircut analogy, one of my favorites is-
    Think about when you buy a really nice pair of sunglasses(your members) and you love them you take good care of them and you would be so upset if you ever lost them. Now think about the cheap pair($10 members) you bought at the drugstore. You don’t care where they are, if they get scratched, broken or if you lose them; you’ll just replace them with another cheap pair that you don’t care about either.

  21. Jonnygym says:

    If the $10 model is so bad why are there more of these facilities popping up all over the country than any other?
    I’m all for service and value added but the Walmart mentality has impregnated our nation.
    (Walmart crushes small business regardless of quality of service)
    We need to realize, It’s the deal people persieve to get not the actual deal itself.
    We advertise the $10 and sell the $20 plus annual fee’s, enrollent, processing at the end of the day they all add up.
    We want more,We want more…..people expect (demand) more for less.
    If you have a $10 gym opening up near you I would suggest you take a look at your pricing and try and retain the members you have before they open.
    Yes I’m working harder for less money and I’m certainly no guru but I’m still in business.
    Scratching and clawing all the way.

    P.S. Much respect for Curtis, he’s got my business.

  22. coach brian says:

    I thought this was bad and then an owner of a huge gym in my area loved the planet fitness because his idea was planet will get people who never had any membership into fitness. In time, when quality is questionable the. those people will. Look for something better. Just establish yourself as a great quality. Then work to increase you perceived value and you are going to thrive in this cheap mentality.

  23. Osama says:

    Cheap prices attract cheap people is true! I gave an offer 1 month get one month free, 3 months get three months free, this offer was for long time! the last 5 months! cheap people have broken more than 20 electronic locks, broken the walls of changing rooms, stole the showers !!!
    Now I stopped this offer, and having network of cameras every where especially lockers room a lot of cameras.

  24. Matt York says:

    Great post Curtis. All that you said is right on point and makes sense.

  25. Heather says:

    You don’t even realize how perfect the timing on this article is! Thank you for speaking out!

  26. Totally agree with you Curtis, no more need be said you articulated the key points very well, these $10 centers only cannibalism our low paying clients and allow us to continue to get strong in our respective niches, get stronger and more defined in your are of expertise… charge more and the end result is little to no competition with much greater Profits, thank you for the post Curtis!!

  27. Donathan says:

    Well said Curtis. I wouldn’t want to stay at a $10.00 a night hotel either. The fact is I may be a little germaphobic. I like clean facilities and the $10.00 crowd just isn’t.

  28. gale sweet says:

    Whilst some budget gyms my be low cost and low service the real essence of a budget gym is to offer a great gym with no frills. When you cut out the sauna, steam and pool, that 70% of members in the Uk don’t use anyway why should they subsidise the other members. it is quite possible to lower your costs to £19.00 per month and make very good sustainable profits.

    I don’t know if the UK is different to the States but here the middle gound is completely losing out. Those chargeing £30 a month don’t actually give better service anyway so it is the budget gyms and the top end that are flourishing whilst the middle ground is perishing.

  29. Gunnar says:

    Hey Curtis! Love your articles and fitbiz.tv and I share your info with other club managers, especially when it is something that pertains to our certain type of health club.

    I’ve read this article a couple times, and have looked through some of the replies. You make some great points, and there are a few others who make good points as well. I’m not posting to point out who is right and who is wrong, but I thought I’d use our clubs as an example.

    We have two clubs within the same general area. Last August our most ruthless competitor (I say ruthless for a number of reasons I won’t bother to mention) dropped their rates to $10/month with no contract. During that very same month, we actually INCREASED our rates!

    So, it’s been about 10 months now since they started their $10/month deal and our prices increased. What has happened over this time frame is pretty interesting. I must admit, our new member sign-ups have not been as great this year as they have been in previous years, and I know I’ve lost plenty of prospects due to our cost being 4 times what our competitor charges. I’m also sure that our $10/month competitor has had TONS of new sign-ups since converting to a low rate club. That being said, let’s get to the part that is really interesting: our clubs’ total Net of members has NOT DECREASED at all and our revenue has actually INCREASED significantly over this 10 month period!!!

    Yes, our club did not grow this year by 100+ members as it has in at least the 3 previous years, but our revenue grew as if we DID grow. And seeing as we didn’t grow in numbers of members, but increased revenue, we were able to afford an awesome renovation, keep our equipment in near mint condition for our members, and we have some financial abilities to think up other ways to make our club more exclusive.

    I get the $10/month mentality, and I do think it can work for some clubs. Heck, it may still be working for our competitor, which is fine by me, because often times they get tired of the crowds or not being able to get someone to help them with something and eventually they come here.

    When someone asks why we charge 4X’s what our competitor charges, I simply say “unlike our competitor, we aren’t trying to be the cheapest club in town…we want to be the BEST!” So far, by the looks of our numbers, and our member referrals and praises, I’d say we’re doing pretty darn good!

  30. Sam says:

    What do you think will be the main reason this bubble will pop?

  31. Herb says:

    The question is not so much what is available as what is wanted/needed. I want to work out. I don’t have the time nor the inclination to sit in a steam room, whirlpool, or snack bar. I don’t play handball or basketball. I don’t swim. While I have a lot of respect for Personal Trainers, I don’t use one. I have never participated in a dance, yoga, or exercise class and I doubt that I ever will. I don’t mind at all paying for a clean, efficient workout area but I’m not real happy subsidizing a lot of high dollar amenities that I’ll never use.

  32. Dave says:

    I have belonged to, and currently work at a 9.99 per month gym. I agree with the above comment whole heartedly that all you get is the 10 dollar member…the wreck the equipment, disrespect the staff and other members, scream, leave stuff all over the place, and then just walk out. I am currently looking at opening my own training center, and to tell you the truth, am SCARED TO DEATH. I know I have the passion and want to help others (being that I was almost 300 lbs myself at one time) but Im scared that people wont see the value in the “personal aspect” of what I and others like myself have to offer. Still, I intend to forge ahead and do my best.

  33. steve says:

    I am not a fan of the $10/mo clubs either but the one in my town is doing very well. The $10/mo doesn’t really bother me because wether you charge $10 or $50 a month all regular gyms bank on members that sign up and don’t show up. If any gym had all it’s members show up for workouts it would shoulder to shoulder for every square foot of any gym. Now if your a Personal training only gym that is different.
    What bothers me about the $10 gym in town is that they are making big profits off the PT. bringing in over $100,000 a month every month. For every dollar brought in the trainer makes 20% to 30% depending on how many sessions they service. After everyone is paid the gym takes 40% to 50% of all PT sales. The great trainers have left and started their own training studio but that is very few. The gym knows this and that is why they can get sub par trainers to keep working for them at about $10 to $18/hr. Because if they left they couldn’t get any clients on there own.
    Not everyone that joins a $10 gym is a $10 member. A lot of people have money to spend on sub par training. They get a lot of people to sign up for a year of training with monthly auto debit on their accounts. Big selling point is the gym only costs $10/mo.
    So as a trainer I hate the $10/mo gyms but if I was a business man I would love it. Especially the ones in my city.
    The moment you think someone really cares about your interest remember one thing. Making money comes first. At least in 99% of the people I’ve met. Truly caring about someone’s interest and health comes after the money is the bank.

  34. Phida says:

    Good evening Mr Mock,
    I do agree with you regarding how some places are charging such less amount. But yet I’m wondering does their customers received great service. Bargains are great. But as you had mentioned some of those clients have health issues. They want people who have knowledge of which machine he/she should use not a 18 year old who’s just there. Anyway, good questions, good article.

  35. Kiss my ass says:

    Well let me say that for all you richy rich ass people out there that can afford 60 to $200 gym memberships MUST BE F*ing Nice!!!! Do you know hard it is when you want get get healthy and fit and make a change in yourself because you are over weight??? Well when people like us can’t afford gym memberships then we really don’t feel like working out!!! We rather be fat than go outside somewhere and be made fun of they we look when we are trying. But there are a lot of people out there that are like that and why should we have to hear that. When we need more access to help that some gyms have to offer us. Yes a lot of people run to the lowest cost gym. But there are some out there that way over priced too. How’s that help the lower class. Only people that make a shit load of money can afford places like that!!! I was excited that a gym opened in my city that offered $10 or $20 a month memberships!! Now if you don’t want to work out when it’s a little to crowed than go at earlier or later times!! Our gym has been busy at certain times but have not ran out of any equipment for anyone!! and no one makes fun of anyone that you can hear. They know people are there to better themselves!! Now when you want to put a business down for make it more affordable for lower class people that can’t afford much than I suggest you think!!!! Not everyone makes a shit load of money. I don’t care what anyone has posted before this. I HATE SNOBS and people that think they are better than everyone else!!! You all can kiss my ass!!!!

  36. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article author for your
    site. You have some really good articles and I think I would be a
    good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please blast me an email if interested. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Anti-Spam Quiz: