Most if not all businesses would have to close if their customers never showed up. For example, imagine a restaurant with no customers. Or a clothing store with no people in it.
Well, that’s not the case with gym chains.
In episode 590 of Planet Money Podcast they show you the mind games gyms play with you. From design to pricing to free stuff.
These gym chains want to be a product that everyone buys, but no one actually uses.
Much like Planet Fitness does.
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Their ideal gym member is someone who goes few times per week for couple of months until they get sidetracked by work/kids/other commitment/excuses and “don’t have time” to go to the gym for another 4 months.
Why do they do this?
Well places like Planet Fitness aren’t even designed to acommodate the number of members they have.
Most have tens of thousands of members but their facility can only acommodate 200-300 people at a time. Doesn’t make any sense.
Some mind blowing stats that about HALF of the people that buy gym membership won’t even visit the gym ONCE!
So how do the gyms do it?
How do they get you to buy, but not come visit.
Part of it is design. They design their gyms to actually look like bars, a place where fat people feel comfortable to be in. And the actual gym with weights is usually hidden somewhere in the background. They absolutely do not want bodybuilder types to sign-up, so they have the actual weights hidden. While out of shape people will feel comfortable signing up because they only see the “bar-like” comfortable atmosphere.
Also, contrary to what you might think, humans like long-term contracts. It locks you into a commitment of going to the gym that we will feel compelled to follow through. You think “I’m paying $10 per month so I HAVE TO GO”
BUT, when it actually comes down to going, your brain changes it to “Well, it’s only $10 so it doesn’t really matter if I won’t go this month”.
So, now it’s about the free stuff. Why do places like Planet Fitness give out free pizzas and bagels every month? The reason is simple. It’s so that the people that NEVER go to the gym, won’t cancel their membership. Because hey, “every month I’m getting 2 slices of pizza for $10 so it’s basically worth it for me to keep paying them $10 every single month”.
Meanwhile a good gym is the total opposite. The atmsphere is hardcore and some actually drop you if you don’t show up for X period of time.
Remember that when you make your New Year’s resolutions.