How Gyms Can Trick You Into Buying A Membership

How Gyms Can Trick You Into Buying A Membership

If you’ve ever signed up for a gym membership, but didn’t end up going that often, you were that gym’s ideal customer. Here are some of the clever methods gyms use hook casual costumers into buying a membership.

Photo by istolethetv

On a recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money podcast, hosts Caitlyn Kenney and Stacy Vanek Smith spoke with gym architect Rudy Fabiano and behavioural economist Kevin Volpp about the ways gyms entice new customers sign up. Here are some of the clever strategies they uncovered:

  • They hide the equipment: According to Fabiano, the casual customer will be intimidated by loud machines and hefty looking equipment, so they hide it from view. Instead, they will have a swank welcome lobby that makes you feel like you’re in a relaxing hotel.
  • They make you sign a contract: We don’t normally like contracts that lock us in, but when it comes to the gym we convince ourselves that the contract will make us go to the gym more. This is what Volpp refers to as “pre-commitment.” Whether you end up going or not, you’re definitely committed to paying.
  • They offer low prices: Low prices get you to sign the contract and keep you from feeling too guilty for never showing up, which they actually bank on.

In general, the consensus is that gyms don’t actually want you to use their facilities. They just want you to think that you will so that you’ll pay for the privilege every month without filling up their space or wearing down their machines. If you plan to sign up for a gym membership, make sure it’s something you actually plan on using. If you’re not 100% sure, you might be better off doing your workouts at home. To hear more clever ways gyms get people to buy memberships, listen to the show at the link below.

Episode 590: The Planet Money Workout [NPR’s Planet Money Podcast via Business Insider]

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