Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Open House Leads to Close Quarters

My gym has regular open houses to bring in new members. They usually hold them on long holiday weekends, where anyone can go in, and check out the facilities. Also during the open houses, members are encouraged to bring their friends and family as guests.

Gyms traditionally oversell their memberships. Most people that sign up at a gym don’t really know much about working out, and really haven’t ever been a member of a gym. They tour the facilities, see beautiful, healthy people working out, and think that if they join, they too will be fit.

Problem is, if you don’t enjoy going to the gym, you won’t. As with anything voluntary, if you don’t like it, you usually won’t do it. There are lots of ways to stay fit and to be active. But most people that join a gym are looking for a quick fix, rather than taking their time to explore their options.

Gyms themselves also compound the problem by forcing people to buy into one-year long contracts. They do usually offer shorter contracts, or even monthly ones, but these they price well above the cost of a one-year contract. And with these one-year contracts, typically once you’ve taken the time to workout and realize it isn’t for you, you’re stuck – unless you buy out the rest of the contract, which can cost quite a bit.

Back to the open house concept – my gym will hold regular open houses, luring in people en mass to sign up on one-year contracts. Most will come for a month, maybe two months max, and then quit. They are still paying for their monthly memberships – their contracts go for a year, but they just don’t like working out in a gym to go.

Problem for those of use who do enjoy working out at a gym, is for a couple of months after the open house, we regulars are cramped. All those people the gym management count on not showing up, do show up for the first month or two.

Yesterday my gym held a big open house party. They had a live DJ, contests, give-a-ways, free food and drink. They also signed up a lot of people who were eager to drop some weight, but probably won’t last for more than a month or two.

Today, I went to do my usual biceps and triceps workout at the gym. It was a chaotic mess! There were simply too many people in the building to even traverse the stairs safely.

I managed to get a locker right away, but had to wait a couple of minutes for an exercise bike to do my warm-up. The stretching room with the mats and Swiss Balls was also jammed with people. I moved a few of the stretching machines which no one was using, to create a little floor space for me.

Then, I had to be creative to get the weights and equipment I needed to do my usual workout. I had to do things slightly out of their usual order, so that I could do them. I just grabbed whatever I could use when it was available – and I made sure once I had a workout bench, I didn’t give it up until I had finished.

After my weight routines, I go to my cardio – but none of the cardio machines were free! I went back down to the weight room, and focused on some hips and thighs for a while. Then I managed to get onto an eclipse machine.

The steam room which I use to relax and sooth exhausted muscles after a good workout was also overly crowded. But at least I managed to find a corner and just relax and enjoy the steam.

I suppose this will continue for the next couple of months. But as new members grow tired of the gym, they will slowly stop coming, and then I’ll be able to really workout without having to worry about being crowded out.

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