Think carefully before joining a gym this New Year

Gym resolution

Australians looking to improve their fitness or lose weight this New Year after being urged to think carefully before agreeing to expensive gym memberships.

Canstar Blue research shows that gym-goers spend an average of $72 per month on memberships, but more than half (54%) don’t go as much as they thought they would, for a variety of reasons, including the general atmosphere of gyms, their cleanliness, or even because they feel intimidated by other gym-users.

“We all start the New Year with good intentions, which is great if you’re looking to improve your health and fitness. But unlike some New Year’s resolutions that don’t go to plan, your gym membership could cost you big. You may end up wasting hundreds of dollars on a service you don’t use,” said Head of Canstar Blue, Megan Doyle.

“It’s mostly a lack of time that prevents people from using the gym as much as they thought they would, but there are a range of other factors that put people off. It’s important to do your research and find the best gym for your needs before making any big financial commitments.

“If you’re considering joining a gym, try to look past all the marketing gimmicks and promotional offers, and consider exactly what type of gym you want to join, because there can be a big difference between them. If you can, ask for a trial period or just use the gym for a couple of one-off visits to get a real idea of what it’s like. The atmosphere of a gym is just as important as its facilities.”

A Canstar Blue survey of more than 1,000 gym members found that just 5% visit the gym every day, while 7% go six times per week and 18% five times. Most people visit the gym three times per week (25%).

Of those who don’t use the gym as often as they thought they would, the majority cited a lack of time as the reason, but plenty of other factors were also significant.

  • 14% feel intimidated by other gym-users
  • 13% don’t enjoy exercising in front of people
  • 12% don’t like the general environment of their gym
  • 10% don’t know how to use the equipment properly
  • 7% are put off by the showers / changing facilities at their gym

“The survey revealed numerous complaints about loud, repetitive music, noisy groups and general sleaziness from some gym-users,” said Mrs Doyle. “Some people are clearly put off by the mucho, testosterone-fuelled atmosphere at some gyms that are full of men flexing their muscles in front of mirrors. And it’s not just women who don’t like it.

“Opening hours are also a major bugbear, as is the cleanliness of the gym and changing rooms. These are the sort of things you really need to consider before jumping into a gym membership.”

The survey revealed a strong desire for single-sex gyms, with one in four respondents (26%) saying they would be happy to pay a higher membership fee it meant only working out in front of other men or other women. And men (25%) were just as likely as women (27%) to find the single-sex option appealing.

“For some, gyms are as much about socialising as they are pumping iron, so that means working out with like-minded people,” said Mrs Doyle. “Our customer satisfaction ratings for gyms found that a female-only chain, Fernwood Fitness, was rated highest overall, with social atmosphere a major driver of satisfaction.

“The turn of the year is a great opportunity to make a lifestyle change. Just make sure you give serious thought to the gym you choose, to help you turn that New Year optimism into long-term success.”

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