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How To Find An Honest Health Club

by Mark Cammack    April 1, 2018

health club message board without posted rates

The message board on the left does not post rates. They can charge any amount. The board on the right openly lists fees.

With the wonderful increase in fitness interest has come a not-so-wonderful surge in questionable practices. We will cover what to look for when shopping for a health club or gym.

Years ago, a fellow and his girlfriend invited me to visit a fitness center. They had a free one day pass for me. I rode with them along the thirty mile trip to the larger city. They mentioned their experiences there. “The club has plenty of equipment and floor space, and the people are friendly,” the fellow said. His lady confirmed,”I think you will like it.” Indeed, the place was roomy with adequate training gear. A strong man was performing repetitions with 315 lbs on the bench press. A couple were doing cable crossovers for the chest. Other people drifted about going from exercise to exercise.

What was noticeable was that their were no membership prices posted at the front desk. An employee began a sales pitch and I tactfully stated that I was not joining that day. I asked my friends about it. ”They charge different rates to different people. They charged one lady we know $900 a year and told her it was a special deal and not to tell anyone else. They charged other people $300 a year. If you do join, don't pay more than $300 and you might be able to get them to go even less,” came the reply. I thanked them for letting me visit, but passed on joining.

The practice of multiple pricing and not posting prices is, in my view, unethical yet common. It is a means of taking advantage of others. This should not occur in a field that is supposed to be about health, wellness, and treating people well. There are many businesses, including fitness and martial arts programs, that use high impact advertising. If you call, they often will not tell you the price over the phone. This in itself is dishonest. The goal is to get people in their place of business and give them a full sales pitch. Frequently, a preset script is followed that works on newcomers.

If you want to be treated with respect as a person and not seen as only a dollar, here is what you need to know:

1. Prices at health clubs should be clearly posted at the front counter or near the entrance. If the company has a website, all costs should be shown there too.

2. The business should tell you the full price and details if you call by phone.

3. There should not be any hidden administration, sign-up fees, or surprise costs. It may be helpful to ask,”What is the total cost including taxes?”

4. Be wary of health club contracts and what you sign. Is it OK to pay monthly or are they trying to lock you into a long-term deal? I have known persons who signed up at gyms, went a few times, and were still paying membership dues months later because they had signed a contract.

5. What does the place feel like? If there is the sense that something is wrong or the management is untrustworthy, leave immediately.

There are a few gems of gyms still about and they have to looked for. One of the best options today is to get basic quality equipment and exercise at home or form a club with friends. In this way, you are not renting a membership, you own the equipment and can workout whenever you choose. You will also come out dollars ahead in the long run.


The fictitious Shady Sam's Health Club and True Fitness Center message board images © Copyright 2018-2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2018-2019 Mark Cammack. All rights reserved.