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Has the credit crunch hit Gym membership?

29 January

Has the credit crunch hit Gym membership.

gym membership

Well the short answer is yes it has. The gym operators will tell you otherwise but the truth is that gym membership has been churning faster than ever before. The “churn rate” is the percentage of total membership that clubs lose every month/year. A really good club will hope to lose only 30-40% of memberships per annum but poor clubs can lose 7-8% per month. Yes that’s right a poor club can churn almost it’s entire membership in a single year.

It hasn’t helped that the VAT rate has increasd to 20% and – membership is VAT rated so most clubs have increased their rates.  If like me you have kept a close eye on the Direct Debit payments you pay out each month then you will have already cancelled your gym membership if you are not using it. Gym operators used to rely on the 15% of members who hardly ever used the club but kept paying – those people have now gone so the operators are having to fight harder to get and keep members. That’s great news for the consumer who can hope for better value from gym membership in 2011.

Gym operators are trying desparately hard to maintain their prices in January but as the year progresses you will see more discounting and contract terms being shortened. And paying a joining fee is God’s way of telling you that you earn too much money. Administation fees are acceptable if they relate to the actual administration but don’t be fooled into paying proper money for a rucksack and water bottle made in China.

This blog has slowly turned into how to get a good deal – sorry I can’t help it – but I just hate paying more than I need to nowadays. While I am on that theme can someone tell me why personal trainers charge so much. Why is £40 per hour a good deal? You can always negotiate with the trainers especially if you can make an off peak slot.

So I think its going to be tough this year as consumer confidence is rattled once more but the gym operators who offer good value gym membership and invest in good staff should survive well.

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Andrew Kitching