Thursday, February 12, 2009

Many Gyms Offer Unprecedented Deals In Bad Economy

“January is one of most lucrative months for gyms and health clubs, a time when new members sign up to get fit. But in this tough economic climate, the fitness industry is facing an uphill battle to keep members from quitting. To get results, gyms are changing the way they do business, to stay in business. With millions of Americans out of work, health clubs and gyms nationwide have seen a wave of cancellations. ‘We've seen members come up losing their jobs. They love the club but they've lost their jobs,’ said health club owner gene Meehan. To keep customers from running out the door Miami's downtown athletic club is offering a three month free membership. It is just one of the ways the $18 billion dollar fitness industry is adapting in this recession. Other ideas taking shape at national chains and local gyms, Zero initiation fees, month to month memberships, and free perks. In Chicago, Flirty Girl Fitness teamed up with local businesses to offer members a free monthly service like a manicure or massage. ‘Everybody's cutting back right now. This makes it all inclusive package,’ said gym member Jennifer Jackson. In the past few years, gym memberships have declined for the first time in two decades. And higher priced clubs are facing the biggest challenge to keep customers from quitting. Many of the customers who canceled their memberships at luxury clubs are turning to smaller and independent gyms, where they can still get a workout without breaking their budget. ‘Uh, I see a lot of them switching, yes. And, I say if you can brown bag your lunch two times a week. You can afford a health club membership especially in our gyms,’ said gym owner Vincent Consalvo. At Mid-City Gym in Manhattan, members can work out for less than 10 bucks a week. A price just right for Rick Giannini. ‘Well you know what, I got laid off and what I made sure of was that I actually had this gym membership paid for because this is one of the things that I do with my new found spare time,’ Rick Giannini. Survival of the fittest, for waistlines and bottom lines. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association the median annual cost for a new gym membership is nearly $800.”

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