Behind the Barbell: Saving pounds

Today the BBC published a news article on the rise of budget gyms. As the supply of gyms increases price decreases because globo gyms are simply commodities. They offer the same thing, the only differentiating factor is the price. Even if you attend a class, the likelihood is it's the same class franchise. 

We see this in full effect in our local town, there's a new gym every week offering cheaper and cheaper memberships. That's great for the consumer choice and tight budgets. But what effect does it have in our industry. 

Budget gyms and trainers. 

Corporate gyms have one task. To increase shareholder value. So packing more and more people into the class and driving down the cost of fitness instructors as gym memberships fall is normal. Eventually these instructors will get booted, as gyms now opt to play a video to a group of people and call it a class. Cutting the instructor altogether. 

There may be disagreements between coaches/trainers/instructors and teachers (that's another story) but if you are reading this and instruct a fitness class in a corporate gym, you are under threat - from the very establishment you are supporting. Don't believe me, take a look. The tagline is 'The Future is Virtual', not ' The future is in Fitness Instructing. At £12.99 a month, after VAT at £10.40 the value a client puts on your hour can be as low as £0.52. That IS the value they are placing on your class. I think fitness professionals are worth more, they are paid more here at MVMT42 because clients are asked to pay more to support the coaching team. 

It's no wonder trainers are selling pyramid scheme drinks, or hiring sports halls to run extra classes, or outdoor bootcamps just to survive. Corporate gyms don't have a relationship with their clients and burn their fitness instructors out on low wages in massive class populations. It's become a fitness sweat shop.

Budget gyms and clients.

If more people are at gyms and the fitness market is growing, you would think obesity rates would be declining. But they are rising.

Why? Because it doesn't matter how cheap the access is to a treadmill, without guidance it's hard to see success. Just making up a workout as you go along hoping that you've unlocked the secret to fitness is a shot in the dark. But it's not your fault, it's what you were sold. 

Simply put, if budget gyms worked micro gyms would be shrinking. But we are not, we are thriving because people are tired of the false promise and want a relationship with a professional that cares. 

So whats the answer?

It depends on what you want. 80% of people fail their fitness goal in the first 60 days. Only 5% achieve. So in January, when you look down those treadmills only 1 in 20 will succeed. It's not effort that's lacking as everyone is working hard. It's knowledge. 

And unfortunately, professional coaching will always cost. Because it is our profession, it's what we do for 8 hours every day. It's how we provide for our families. 

Saying that, if you are one of the lucky ones that knows exactly what to do, when to do it and why, I'm telling you not to join my gym. Go join the cheapest one in town, you don't need my help. If you are one of the other 19, shop around and talk to some of the amazing talent we have in the fitness market around the South. 

There are some incredible boutique gyms in Worthing and the surrounding area, in all areas of fitness. We are not owned by large corporates, but operated by professional coaches who care about clients results, not shareholder value.

I can't speak for all of us independent gyms, but I know a lot of us have done our time in the factory that is the corporate gym chain, that's why we set up our own. Because we believe there is a better way to have a relationship with clients. As the gym owner I could price cut a big corporate tomorrow, offer factory classes and budget memberships, but I can't because I couldn't sleep at night knowing I'm selling a false promise, hoping people don't turn up to workout. I know I'm not the only small gym owner who feels that way.  

So if your shopping around, think about what assistance you are getting towards your goal and if you're supporting a local business or a large commodity. If you want a cheap treadmill its a buyers market, if you want expertise you won't find it in a corporate gym for a cheap price. 

P.S.  If the counter argument to this is that there are some great personal trainers in budget gyms, you are correct. There are some amazing trainers. But firstly, the cost of a budget gym plus training is more than most boutique gyms. And secondly, most personal trainers are not paid well in budget gyms, talk to them, ask them. I have a stack of CV's from local trainers wanting to escape but none of my coaches have ever moved from here to go work for one. 


Coach Nathan 


Side note, this blog was to explain the fitness market and how it's moving from behind the scenes. It was never written to devalue other trainers, gyms or workout systems, we all have the same passion. To help people be the best versions of themselves :) 

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