Five warning signs your gym may be going out of business.
Between the buyouts and the flops, I’ve been a member of 8 fitness centers since 1983. I’ve seen them come and go. I’ve seen fitness trends change. Weight lifting and aerobic machines become more advanced. I’ve seen Aerobics classes, Step Aerobics classes, Jazzercize, Kickboxing, Yoga, Zumba and many more group exercise trends morph into new ones. Childcare facilities have been added. In the larger gyms, racket ball courts, tennis courts, swimming pools, saunas, whirlpools, steam rooms, eucalyptus rooms and more have been added. (Of course, many of these larger accommodations have been around in gyms longer than I have been around.) I’ve watched complete renovations take place working around the construction while I was working out a the gym.
While all of these changes have been productive or just necessary to sustain membership, many of my past gyms have gone out of business and/or were bought out by another company.
After all, these gyms are expensive to establish and maintain. According to the 2016 Statistic Brain Research Institute there are 30,500 gyms in the US, with 58,000,000 members (about 16% of the population) belonging to a gym - 67% of whom never use them. When you start to break it down, the fitness center/gym business is risky business. It’s no wonder so many go belly up and/or get bought out by larger companies.
Of course, there is a lot of “flash” and glamor around fitness centers to entice folks into the fitness lifestyle. Most gyms are constantly campaigning to attract new members and compete for advertising space on TV, radio and in print. They count on many members signing up and not actually using the gym to workout in.
So, through the years, I’ve seen a pattern take place when I think the end may be near for the gym I am a member of. These are 5 warning signs I’ve noticed over and over.
1) You start to slowly see maintenance begin to slack off. The exercise equipment begins looking shabby with tears in the padding, parts missing or broken that were once replaced quickly. Warn out carpeting is not being replaced. Large screen TVs are missing or not operating. Even the locker rooms are not being cleaned as regularly as they once were.
2) The staff has suddenly been reduced. And sometimes even becomes a bit apathetic toward the day-to-day business at hand. Maybe staff attendance hours have been cut back.
3) Men in suits you hardly ever see show up and begin looking around the facility. Maybe eyeing to buy or are talking with the staff behind closed doors.
4) The normal member day-to-day traffic flow seems to be disrupted or slows down.
5) You are asked to extend your membership contract months before the renewal date.
In spite of these things, I think most gyms are quite stable these days but may be bought out by new owners affecting very little in the way of change to the facility. When public gyms, besides the old standbys of the YMCA/YWCA and the like, and lengthy contracts were legal in most states, gyms were getting a bad reputation through the 1960s and 70s. It never hurts to check out the company who owns your fitness center by doing a little research on them. I’ve only once, back in the late 1980s, been stuck with a contract that extended a few months beyond the life of the gym I was attached to. And I lost some money there.
Otherwise, enjoy your time in your gym! As they say, you get out of it as much as you put into it… and then some!
See ya' next time for Friday Fitness tip #10!
DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a fitness expert in any way. I’m not a certified trainer, dietician, or medical doctor… nor do I hold a degree in physical education, dietary science, sports medicine or any other field related to today’s fitness. I am just a normal guy who’s been working out regularly at a gym, 3 - 4 days per week for the last 32 years. I take my health seriously. I figure, I do no service to my profession as a Voice Actor/Voiceover Talent (sometimes on camera) nor to anyone else if I don’t try and maintain good health. And I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with you. These ideas work for me and just might work for you. Please consult with your physician before starting an exercise program. Stay tuned for many more tips!