Friday, March 7, 2008

How to Spot a Real Bargain

I have an 83 year old personal training client who has worked with me for almost 10 years. She knows the difference regular exercise has made in her health, strength and quality of life and she’s always encouraging her friends to join Body & Soul Fitness Studio. Unfortunately, most of them prefer sitting around for hours playing bridge and eating and think she’s crazy for working out 3 days a week.

Yesterday, she called me quite frustrated because a friend told her she was looking for a gym but wouldn’t join mine (or any) that require an enrollment fee. I realize that many fitness centers charge an activation/enrollment/initiation fee and you get little or nothing for it but that is definitely not the case with Body & Soul, and her friend knew it.

You see the friend had already called me about 2 weeks earlier and we had a long conversation about her situation and her medical issues. I explained to her that the modest enrollment fee includes an individualized program design and 2 one-on-one personal training sessions. New members complete a health history and then we discuss any injuries/medical concerns and their goals, current fitness level, available time, exercise experience, etc. Based on that information, I design a workout specifically for them. I don’t do "one-size-fits-all."

I’m not upset that my client’s friend won’t be joining. I want to work with people who truly understand and appreciate the importance of regular strength and cardiovascular training. Let me make it clear that this woman’s decision is not a matter of finances; it’s a matter of how much value she places on a properly designed exercise routine and good instruction.

I’m not saying cost should never be a factor in your decisions. However, I would encourage you to compare apples to apples. If you’ve read this far, you know what the activation fee at Body & Soul includes. If another fitness center charges half my fee but you receive nothing for it, and everything else is equal, which is really the better bargain? For a knowledgeable, experienced exerciser, it may be the other place. However, for most other folks, I would say that Body & Soul or a gym like it would definitely give you more value for your dollar.

So before you make a decision on joining a gym compare what each club offers along with all the costs.

One of my others members just asked me to set her husband up on a program because the activation fee for the gym he just joined (which is only $20 less than mine) entitles him to just a group orientation. (Unfortunately for him, Body & Soul is just for women.)

Some women’s gyms are not open 7 days a week; some have inconvenient hours or close multiple days for holidays when you’re off from work. Too many gyms employ people with little or no exercise background; these are the people who will teach you how to perform the exercises, set up equipment, answer your questions, etc. Is it worth saving a few bucks if you get hurt or don’t get the results you want because of inadequate instruction or supervision?

Just some things to consider. Remember, you get what you pay for.


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