Having worked at multiple gyms in both member sales and as a trainer. I’m here to tell you the top 10 secrets gyms don’t want you to know. And while these “secrets” are widely known by most insiders. Many gym goers, especially those starting their fitness journey, tend to trust what they are being told by the gym’s staff. So yo help you get the most from your gym experience. Saving time and money, while seeing better results. Below I’m going to give you the insider tips that gyms don’t want you to know.
Top 10 Secrets Gyms Don’t Want You to Know
1. The Gym Business Model is Based on You Not Going
That’s right, the gym’s business model is designed knowing that most people that sign up either wont go very often, or wont go at all. And they are counting on this. If everyone that has membership started attending regularly, the gym would be overflowing with people. There just isn’t enough equipment or space to handle their total enrollment. This is also why they make it a challenge to cancel your membership. Hoping to keep that no show member as long as possible.
2. The Best Time to Sign Up for a Gym Membership is at the End of the Month
Selling gym memberships is a commission based position. So like most sales people they have quotas and numbers to hit for bonuses. The gym itself (management) also has numbers and marks they are trying to hit. Because of this the best time to sign up for a gym membership is at the end of the month, when a salesperson is looking to hit their quota. And the Gym is looking to increase their monthly revenue. So if you’re looking to sign up, go at the end of the month and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Often paying for 6-12 months in advance can get your membership to a very low rate. Well below what is being offered by the gym.
3. Trainers Don’t Know Everything – And Are Mainly there for Accountability
Over the past decade becoming a certified personal trainer has gotten easier and easier. First, there is not one governing body. Just multiple businesses that provide certification competing with each other. Lowering standards and pricing to compete to draw in more people. 10 years ago you had to take the certification test in person. Now you can take (and re-take) the test online until you pass. And one of the biggest personal training certification programs lost a multi-million dollar lawsuit after falsifying data against another fitness brand. Many gyms have stopped requiring certification because of these changes.
Beyond that, while many trainers have the best intentions. They are just not knowledgeable enough on the topic to really provide guidance that will set you up for success long term. Many are the following base programs that you can find for free online. With many not really even paying attention to the form of correct body mechanics of their clients. This is a commission based position so the goal isn’t to push you hard, rather to keep you comfortable and paying for more training. Now if you need accountability to show up to the gym, this is really the only reason you would need to keep a trainer beyond a few weeks.
4. More Equipment is Always Better
Gyms love to show off their huge selection of machines and equipment. But the truth is that more doesn’t mean better. In fact, despite the number of machines you will find there to be a line of people waiting just to use the squat rack or the bench press. So why don’t they have more of these and less of the hyper specific machines. If they had a bunch of squat racks and benches, and you didn’t have to wait for one to become available, more members would show up to the gym (see #1 on this list). Having a bunch of fancy machines that look good to potential new members, yet very few people actually use them. This all just plays into the “let’s sell memberships to people that wont show up” business model.
5. The Supplements and Products Being Sold Are Overpriced and Not needed
The supplements being sold at most gyms are useless for the majority of gym goers. That new fancy protein bar or creatine infused pre workout isn’t going to make a difference for most people. And in most cases they are lower quality while being sold for much more that you can find better options for at your local Vitamin Shoppe or GNC. There are tried and true supplements that many bodybuilders and athletes take. But quality matters. And unless you have heard of the brands and know what ingredients you are looking for. Stay away from the over priced supplements the gym is pushing.
6. Gyms Don’t Care About or Even Want Serious Lifters as Members
The reason gyms don’t want serious lifters as members is two fold. One, serious lifters show up and spend a lot of time in the gyms. This goes against most gym’s business models of wanting members that will not show up. Second, they tend to make new gym members and personal trainer clients uncomfortable. New members see the guy with the big muscles and just assume they can’t achieve that, compare themselves physically, and get discouraged. Which is sad because many of the strongest and most dedicated gym goers are also the nicest. And are more than willing to give tips and advice based on their experiences, which obviously works. This again can make trainers uncomfortable. Many of which are not in great shape. Most are above average physically, but is above average” what you want in a trainer. So to these trainers, people in peak physical condition are considered a threat to their jobs. Which is also why most gyms have a rule against non- trainers training anyone at the gym. Even if they aren’t charging them.
7. You Can’t Outwork a Poor Diet
Most gyms will act as though they provide the key to you getting healthy. When the truth is that getting fit or losing weight really isn’t rocket science. You simply have to burn more calories than you take in. And the better the quality of the calories you eat. The more beneficial the gym will be and the more results you will see. But at gyms like Planet Fitness they will often have pizza or donuts available for members. Going directly against the basics of fitness and weight loss. So if a gym offers you these as a membership perc, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why they would be doing this. And the real answer is if you keep going but don’t see results, you will probably stop going. With many forgetting or not canceling their membership. Playing right into the “no show” business model.
8. Most Gyms are Even Dirtier Than You Would Think
The majority of gyms are cleaned once a week and at best every few days. And these cleaning typically focus on the floor and things that are clearly unclean. They don’t focus on cleaning every piece of equipment thoroughly. And often skip anything that doesn’t look noticeably dirty. Having worked and worked out at more than a few gyms in my life. The things I would see people do in a gym was beyond disgusting. From sweating all over a bench and not wiping it up. People with their pants almost falling off and bare ass on the seat or bench. And people sticking used gum or personal products on the treadmills. There is a reason to this day I wipe every piece of equipment down both before and after I use it
9. Never Use A Gym Hot Tub
While the typical gym is pretty dirty, the hot tub is down right gross. It’s literally the equivalent of taking a warm bath with a bunch of strangers. The first gym I worked at was a large well known gym chain with a good reputation. So their cleaning practices were well above average, which included draining the hot tub every week for cleaning. And every week the stuff they found in the water and trap would make my skin crawl. Female hygiene products, condoms, Band-Aids, nail clippings, and dead pests are just a few that stand out. So if you value your health, please do not use the hot tub at a gym.
10. Canceling Your Membership is not Easy
This may not be a huge surprise if you have ever tried to cancel a gym membership. As I’ve outlined in the previous items on the list. Gyms make their money on people not showing up. So making canceling their contract easy goes directly against this business model. Meaning they are going to make it as difficult as possible to cancel your membership. Make sure when you read your contract and before you sign that the salesperson shows you where in the contract it outlines how you can cancel. This will often mean emailing or sending a physical letter to the gym’s parent company. And often includes a one month notice. Meaning if you send a cancellation letter in June, you will still have to pay for July before your membership is canceled.
Conclusion On Gym Business Practices
I want to be clear when I say that these top 10 secrets gyms don’t want you to know aren’t universal. And that some gyms do go above and beyond for their clients. But these gyms are rare and few and far between. Typically being smaller one to a few location franchises. Most globo box gyms will hit every check on this list. But don’t let that scare you off from starting. Just know what you’re getting into before signing up. And use these tips to get the most out of your gym membership.
If you feel like I’ve left anything off this list, let me know in the comments below.