Undoubtedly one of the best times to be in the health-club business is shortly after the new year, when everyone makes a new year’s resolution to lose weight and get fit, then joins a gym in order to accomplish those goals. As health clubs know, the majority of those new memberships will be of people who don’t actually show up more than a few times to use the facilities — and the gym gets to keep their non-refundable membership fees running to the hundreds of dollars each. My guess is that the income from January alone probably keeps a health club going at least until swimsuit season starts looming near.
On the one hand, it’s hard to fault health clubs for this practice. If you decide to join a gym, pay your money, then don’t show up, whose fault is it, theirs? No. On the other hand, there’s a P.T. Barnum sucker-born-every-minute aspect to this practice that is vaguely distasteful to plain-dealing folks like myself, who insist on receiving money only for actual goods or services delivered. So here is a common-sense consumer-protection suggestion from me to you:
If your new-year’s resolution is to get fit and lose weight (which I encourage), don’t join a gym first. Do ten push-ups, ten squats, and ten leg-lifts every day for fourteen days. (My doctor once told me, when encouraging an exercise regime I was beginning: “Fourteen days makes a habit.”) At the end of that time, if you are still consistently doing your exercises and your enthusiasm hasn’t waned, then join a gym.
(Disclaimer: get a doctor’s advice [I’m not one], do proper warm-up stretches, etc.)
If you do resolve to get fit and lose weight in the new year, and you were inclined to join a gym but you took my suggestion and you ended up abandoning your fitness regime, I will gladly accept a donation of 10% of the health club membership fee that I saved you!