How to Go Up Against Gym Salespeople and Come Out Victorious
Ever wonder if that sales rep at the gym came straight from a job at a used car dealership?
That’s what I was thinking last time I gave a new gym in my neighborhood a spin.
How to Get a Deal on Your Gym Club Membership…
Me: Fifty bucks a month is a little steep, even after you waive the initiation fee (whatever that is).
Salesperson: Well, the special ends today. I can’t guarantee the price will ever be this low again.
Me: You know, I’m gonna take my chances. I’m not ready to sign up today.
Salesperson: Most people don’t have the willpower to come back, so you’d be smart to sign up now. Besides, if you don’t, that tells me you’re not committed to your fitness goals.
Me: I am committed to my goals—just not your gym. Hence the free one-week trial membership I signed up for.
Salesperson: What free trial membership?
It’s pretty amazing how quickly a 15-minute no-strings gym tour can turn into something resembling a battle scene from the movie “300” (only without the cool chroma keying).
People say picking a gym is like car shopping? I say it’s worse. Not only are you likely to battle a hungry salesforce, but you’ve got a two-year contract and auto-withdrawals from your bank account to worry about. Not to mention, the fate of your future hot body is in their hands.
If anything, you should be even more Spartan about choosing a gym than a car dealer.
Here Are Seven Tips to Get a Discount on Your Gym Club Membership:
- Know your must-haves and deal-breakers. Salespeople have an uncanny way of making irrelevant features sound like stuff you need. Examples: childcare (even though you don’t bring your kids to the gym); free guest passes (but your friends would eat glass before setting foot in a gym); spa services (because the first thing you’ll want to do after Crossfit is get an oil massage and a haircut). Knowing your must-haves and deal-breakers will keep you from getting seduced by a Benz when you’re shopping for a Subaru—or the other way around.
- Demand a trial membership. Changing gyms is about as easy as returning underwear after you’ve worn it—even if the gym has a “no-strings” setup. So, while few places will make it easy for you to test the waters without some hustling, it’s worth standing your ground to get the one-week or even one-month trial pass.
- Test the crowd. Are people friendly, or do they hover and glare ‘til you surrender “their” treadmill? Does reception greet you with a smile or seem clique-y (he’s wearing that shirt with those trainers)? Can you get help from a class instructor or trainer if you need it? The trial gives you a chance to check out the people, as well as ask other members how they like the gym (and how much they’re paying).
- Be honest about your comfort level. Sure money’s tight, but do you think you’re really going to hit up a dirty, stuffy B.O. chamber every day? Consider the lighting, ventilation, and whether there’s enough breathing room. Ladies, do they have separate saunas for each sex, and machines specifically designed for women? Comfort is one thing I’ve tried to overlook in the past and I seriously regretted it.
- Read the contract. Yes, you actually have to read that. And don’t be afraid to walk away if you see something funky in the fine print. In fact, do what you’d do at the car dealership: take the contract home with you, or at least ask for some privacy so you can take your time looking over it. A few things to zero in on: the stipulations for a pay-as-you-go or month-to-month plan, whether the term is auto-renewing, and whether they can increase rates and pluck more from your checking account without notifying you.
- Polish your brass knuckles. (Metaphorically, of course.) If you’re on the fence about joining, be prepared for some cutthroat closing room tactics, especially at pricier gym chains (at least in my experience). To avoid getting stuck in a room with a “closer,” ask your questions out on the floor, or take the tour and bolt. As for haggling? Some gyms have flexible pricing, others don’t, but it can’t hurt to try. Many will waive the setup fee.
- Know your price. And it needn’t be the lowest. If you sign up for a $20/month gym that doesn’t meet your needs, that’s clearly a bigger financial foul than paying twice that for one that does. Remember: the membership alone won’t guilt you into going. The rock wall, basketball court, heated pool and convenient parking, on the other hand—those could easily have you sprinting in like a kid to cake. That’s why it pays to know how much you can afford and then max out your gym budget, instead of beelining it to the bargain-basement facility.
[box type="note"]Not all gyms are out to rip you off or get you in a chokehold the second you walk in the door. But some are. So be firm about what you want, sign up at the best gym, and everybody wins. (Or at least you and the best gym do. Who cares about the others?)[/box]