Monday, January 19, 2009

Discounts Fit For Lean Times

“Workout buffs won't have to break a sweat to find good fitness club deals this year. With consumers watching their wallets as closely as their waistlines, fitness club owners are working harder to attract new members and hang onto current ones. Part of an $18.5 billion-a-year industry, health clubs often offer discounts to bring in those vowing to keep New Year's resolutions, but this year many are offering deep discounts because of the down economy. The Arthur M. Glick JCC on the Northside has maintained its 83 percent retention rate and approximately 10,000 members -- in part by trimming fees and offering other incentives. For the month of January, it is waiving the $300 enrollment fee and offering 50 percent off membership fees for the first three months. ‘The competition is being very aggressive. We have to respond to that,’ said Mindi Epstein, director of marketing. ‘We want to be sure we're securing our longevity in the community.’ The reduced fees were one reason Gabe and Sarah Bosslet decided to join the JCC in December. ‘Absolutely, it was an incentive,’ said Gabe Bosslet, who runs and lifts weights four times a week. His wife also runs and swims there, and their 3-year-old twins take tumbling classes and enjoy family swim nights. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis also recognizes it's a tough time for families. This month, new members can "pay the day" -- a $19 enrollment fee if they sign up today, for example, or $31 on Jan. 31 -- instead of the typical $99 fee. ‘In this economy, it's a way for us to try to bring in more people,’ said Jenny Burgess, associate vice president for membership and wellness. More people are asking for membership subsidies, too, with 32 percent getting them now, she said. The economic downturn hit Indiana just as the number of health clubs has been expanding. The state had 622 clubs in July 2008, up 12 percent from the previous year, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, a trade group based in Boston. Core fitness club members -- defined as those who attend at least 100 days a year -- has dipped in recent years.”

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