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the Price of Prepaid Gym Memberships

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$ 500
Feb 2007
San Diego, CA
3 years
National chain health club, 3 year enrollment  more... close row

Description of service

Though I enrolled with my health club in San Diego, it is a huge national chain, and I'm eligible to attend all but like 3 of the super-elite locations (in Los Angeles, no doubt).

The $500 represents $450 for three years of unlimited use of facilities and classes, plus $50 for five 30 minute sessions with a trainer. At the end of 3 years, my monthly fee to maintain my membership is like $8 or something very reasonable.

Review of Service

First of all, this is a huge national chain that I've committed to. So, the service isn't fantastic, but it is what I expected, so I'm not unhappy.

The machines work, the instructors are competent, and it's always open. I have found there to be some regional differences in the quality of instruction, though. In San Diego, the instructors seem to be geared toward inclusion--letting everyone feel successful. This had the side effect of making classes often not very challenging and sometimes downright boring. So far, the instructors I've encountered in the Pacific Northwest seem to be far tougher. The classes are far more challenging--often too challenging--but always more interesting.

On the other hand, the salesman was pretty pushy during the enrollment process. I didn't even know that $50 of my $500 payment was for personal training until 6 months later when I tried to enroll in personal training!


Especially with large chain gyms, do your homework before signing an agreement. Wait for a special, compare offers (even one location to the next may be different!), and make sure you know exactly what you are paying for.

If it's possible, memberships are significantly cheaper when you can pay a lump sum up front, rather than a quit-any-time monthly fee.

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