By Mike DuBose and Joel DuBose
At some point in their lives, many people join a gym or fitness club. It’s often prompted by not liking how their clothes fit or the way they look in the mirror. Some might purchase their gym memberships in preparation for a major life event like a wedding, to try a new fitness craze they’ve read about, or to tag along with friends. Others are seeking to establish a routine for a longer, happier life or to channel their stress into a healthy outlet. Doctors will also sometimes recommend that their patients start a diet and exercise regimen to combat medical concerns like high cholesterol, excessive weight, or high blood pressure.
Joining a gym can help with a host of problems, if the person is truly willing to invest the time and effort into building a healthier mental and physical life. According to the Mayo Clinic, following the right long-term exercise program at the gym can allow people to:
All of these benefits are possible, provided that you are following a vigorous exercise program that has been correctly designed, executed, and maintained over time to address your changing health and fitness needs. You should conduct this program at least 30 minutes each day for five or more days a week to achieve maximum results, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Exercise also serves a preventative role, strengthening your body and making it more resilient as you age. As Livestrong.com reported, “Combining aerobic exercise with strength training at the gym helps your muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons remain in good shape, which will make you stronger and more flexible. This is particularly important as you age or face problems such as arthritis. You may lower your risk of falling or fracturing your hip, which may negatively impact your life, especially in your older years.”
With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that many individuals begin their fitness journey excited. They buy slick-looking gym clothes, bags, and shoes; tell their friends that they are going to make some healthy life changes; and charge into the gym ready for action! New gym memberships particularly soar in late December and early January, when many people make their New Year’s resolutions. According to the July 2015 Wall Street Journal, there are over 54 million gym and fitness memberships in the US, and the numbers are rising. Altogether, Americans spend more than $60 billion on fitness measures like gym memberships and weight loss programs each year, according to U.S. News and World Report. It’s a booming business, and one that is likely to continue growing as Americans seek to counter the nation’s ballooning obesity rate.
But although millions of people buy these memberships, far fewer are actually making use of them! In fact, according to a Mintel Survey, only one in five people who has purchased a gym membership goes at least once a month. Some studies have shown that 60-80% of gymgoers dropped their memberships or quit going within the first eight months of signing up (and most after three months!). Millions of people continue to pay for these dormant memberships despite never using them.
Why don’t these individuals take advantage of the amenities offered by their gym memberships, and why do they continue to pay for them after quitting? According to our research, there are many reasons that a person might give up on a gym or exercise program:
With these factors at play, many gym memberships go unused. However, gym operators usually see this as a good thing: the fewer the people in the gym, the less crowded it is; the more parking is available; the more access to the equipment for regular users; the fewer facility supplies and utilities are needed; and all the while, cash is still coming in! In fact, to test the system, we once took out a year’s membership at a well-known gym for a low price and never attended for 12 months. Although the gym maintained electronic records of member attendance, no one ever called to encourage us to come in...until the membership was due for renewal, and then our telephones lit up with sales solicitations!
The bottom line: Exercise is good for you, and the gym is a great place to help your body and mind grow stronger. However, approach the idea of joining a gym with caution. Without proper guidance and support, you could severely harm yourself or, at the very least, lose out on some hard-earned cash. The key to success is to develop a plan, preferably with the help of someone knowledgeable who can guide you to success. Look for future articles from us on how to select a personal fitness trainer, avoid injuries, and improve your overall health through proper exercise.
About the Authors: Our corporate and personal purpose is to “create opportunities to improve lives” by sharing our knowledge, research, experiences, successes, and mistakes. You can e-mail us at [email protected].
Joel DuBose is president of DuBose Fitness Center, a private gym that offers only one-on-one personal fitness training. He studied exercise science and psychology at the University of South Carolina and later served as the strengthening and conditioning coach with basketball coach Tim Whipple at Irmo High School. He is a Certified Personal Trainer with the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America and the International Association of Fitness Science.Visit https://www.dubosefitness.com/ for more details.
Mike DuBose, a University of South Carolina graduate, is the author of The Art of Building a Great Business. He has been in business since 1981 and is the owner of Research Associates, The Evaluation Group, DuBose Fitness Center, and Columbia Conference Center. Visit his nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for a free copy of his book and more than 100 additional business, travel, and personal published articles, including health columns written with Dr. Surb Guram, MD.