Monday, 25 January 2010

January Gym Offers

January is perceived as the busiest month for health clubs and gyms as people resolve to get fit, join, and then stop going a few months later.

Interested to find out what local clubs are doing differently in 2010, I’ve visited and spoken with managers and members at chain clubs, leisure centres, private clubs, and studios around North London. It seems the classic waived joining fee is still the standard policy to encourage new joiners, followed by a 12 month contract, but some clubs are being more innovative, and are reaping the membership rewards.

The big chains are offering the same old formula of discounted joining fee, sometimes dressed up as free membership periods. For example, at LA Fitness you can enjoy 3 months free, when you sign up for 15 months premier membership (which gives access to other clubs in the chain). If you will make use of other club locations and are happy to be locked in for the long term, this is great, but it doesn’t give me the impression that these clubs have much confidence in their member retention methods. The alternative is a 12 month single club contract, but with no discount. Virgin Active in Crouch End and Fitness First (women only) in Crouch End have similar offers.

The Laboratory next to Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill is much more confident about retaining members, with a monthly cancellation option. Prices are comparable to the chains, but there is big focus on customer service and the integrated gym, swim, spa offering rather than January sales initiatives. General Manager, Vas Hava anticipates having to re-introduce the new member waiting list soon, due to the recent success of new member sales. “Our members expect a certain level of service, and we make sure that we deliver because then happy members bring their friends along.”

Local personal training studios seem to be doing very well at the moment, and bring a great alternative to the 12 month sign-up, along with better motivation and coaching. Movers and Shapers is a Power Plate studio in the heart of Muswell Hill, selling blocks of 10 half-hour sessions. A monthly Direct Debit membership option is newly also available for frequent visitors, but the majority of members still buy blocks of sessions. New member Tracy enjoys the social nature of the workouts; “every session is like a one-to-one, but with a small group of friends. The instructors are all really friendly and I’m really looking forward to toning up after my pregnancy.”

Park Road Leisure Centre offered (reduced price) gift memberships in December, but now has standard annual, monthly, and pay as you go memberships. “December was a bumper month for new joiners,” says Tony Harrison, Senior Fitness Instructor, “and our new member induction timetable is nice and full as usual in January.” The local leisure centre is the most flexible and best value around, and they also have the systems and equipment in place to help with your motivation.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got, as the motivational speaker’s saying goes. Joining a gym is seen as a January duty for many. If you’re looking to do it in 2010, do it differently, with a club that does it differently, and you might just notice a difference.

Friday, 15 January 2010


Thinking of joining a gym in 2010? Here's what you should think about before you start looking, when you go on a tour, and during a trial membership:

Before you start looking
1. What’s your goal? (fitness, shape, weight loss/gain, etc)
2. What will motivate you? (friends, environment, personal trainer, etc)
3. When / how often will you visit? (should it be close to home or work)
4. What facilities do you need? (gym, classes, pool, etc)
5. How much time/money do you want to commit?

Ask on your gym tours
1. Can I have a trial membership?
2. What are the options, can I upgrade/ downgrade/ freeze/ cancel?
3. Do I need an induction and will you set/review my program?
4. Are your instructors REPs certified? (Register of Exercise Professionals)
5. What’s included in the membership, and what’s extra?

To-do on your free visits
1. Visit at peak times, and times you would normally use the club
2. Use the facilities you need (check out the others)
3. Talk to instructors and other members
4. Haggle. Will the club waive the initiation, or reduce the monthly fee?
5. Share your goal with the instructors so they can help you