If you’ve been an active gym-goer at any point in your life, it's safe to say that you have at least tried out a regular ‘big box gym’ at some point. These gyms are a dime a dozen, and I will refrain from using names, but they are the type that are open all day (sometimes 24/7), have various strength and cardio equipment, and sometimes will also offer a variety of classes. But there's one big secret they don’t want you to know…




Let me explain. These gyms sign up as many people as possible (preferably for a whole year contract or longer) then hope that not everyone shows up or actually continues to go throughout the year. If they did, there is NO WAY everyone would fit! These types of gyms have hundreds and hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of members, but at any given time you might see 10-20 people there. Can you imagine if every person who signed up for a membership actually used it the entire time? The gym would get so many complaints from allowing too many people in at once! There would never be any machines/free weights available, it would always be a mess from people not putting their weights away, and you’d have to park about 2 miles away.


The hope from these types of gyms is that you sign up for a long contract, and then never show up, all the while collecting your sweet sweet dollar bills. Now, they KNOW that some people will continue to show up and work hard daily, and they plan for that. They know a certain percentage will keep up with their routine, and it's probably in the ballpark of 10-15% of all members. So that means they EXPECT 85-90% of all members to NOT show up!


You will often see “specials” which offer a discount if you sign up for even longer (ex. $250 for a year, or $450 for 2!), but really they know that you probably won’t be showing up for initial term contract anyways, so that’s just extra money in their pocket. To them, the more things they can get you to sign up for right off the bat, the better. Want to purchase this vastly overpriced tub of protein while it's ‘on sale’? SURE sounds good! Want to buy this package of Personal Training with one of our ‘qualified’ instructors while it's 25% off even though we know most of you won’t end up using it? SURE sounds good!


Another thing that really grinds my gears… they really could care less if you make any progress at all, and some even throw a weekly pizza party so you can gain 1500 calories after burning 300! What a sweet deal! (again, no names will be mentioned :). You’d think after being in the fitness industry for so long that they’d have some idea on what actually works, but it's fairly clear they don’t! Where’s the programming? Where’s the mention of progressive overload and what it takes to make progress? Instead you get a “lunk alarm” which is set off when people are trying too hard to better themselves… what the hell?


These gyms cater to the average, lazy individual who thinks that 2-3 trips to the gym will make a world of difference in their body fat percentage. Usually, when they realize how much hard work and dedication is actually required, they start to make excuses as to why they can not continue (but they already signed up for 1-2 years!). Then they are stuck paying for another 11 months without utilizing the facility once (along with thousands of others just like them), and that is exactly what that gym wants to see.


Now I will say that there are some big box gyms that are much better than others, and have great trainers and offer a wide variety of classes that keep members coming back, and that’s great… but they should ALL have that!


Also, I am not trying to say that these types of gyms should not be used by anyone, ever. There are plenty of people out there who are self-motivated, know exactly what they should be doing at the gym, and can make progress on their own (the 10-15%). I was one of these people for many years, and I went to many different types of big box gyms which all suited my needs perfectly fine. I knew exactly what to do when I got there, and how much of it I needed to do to make progress… the problem is that there is a HUGE discrepancy amongst the average gym-goer on what they should actually be doing in the gym, and what they end up doing. Have you ever seen someone who went to the gym for months, years even, but never made any progress? Yea, me too… unfortunately it happens to most people, simply because of a lack of knowledge and understanding on what it really takes!


So what’s the solution? Well, many people are now seeking out different types of gyms such as boot-camp style gyms, crossfit, etc… and enjoying much greater results because of it! These types of facilities (should) always have certified and qualified trainers leading each and every class. These types of facilities actually CARE about your progress and your health and well-being. These types of facilities actually WANT you to show up! There’s the biggest difference right there, if you don’t show up, what can you really accomplish? The smaller gyms also realize the importance of smart programming, nutrition, and will usually incorporate fun challenges to keep members engaged and having fun!


It’s that time of year… don’t be a statistic. Don’t fall for the New Years Special Membership at the big box gym that you won’t actually use! You’ve heard the saying, “You get what you pay for”... in the fitness industry that couldn’t be more true! As an owner of one of the smaller gyms, I sincerely care for the health and well-being of each and every single one of my members… and it pains me to see people sign up for these big box gyms and then never use them! Not only do they not get any healthier and stronger, they are wasting their money at the same time :(


If in the past you have tried the big box gym every January and only lasted through February (but had to pay throughout the entire year), ask yourself “am I really going to do this again? Or is it time to try something different? Something that might ACTUALLY work?” I think you’ll be happy you did.


End rant. GET FUSED.


Brian Lepine

Fitness Fusion