There’s an absolutely fascinating episode of the Planet Money podcast up on NPR now (or subscribe via iTunes) about the tactics that low-cost gyms use in order to make a fortune on low $10 a month membership fees. I’m particularly fascinated by it because I’m the exact kind of gym member that a place like Planet Fitness craves. I’ve been a member for five or six years, and I’ll go five times a week for three or four months and then get sidetracked by work or kids or other commitments and not attend the gym again for three or four more months.
I’m the ideal gym member.
Why? Because places like Planet Fitness are not actually designed to accommodate the number of people who enroll as members. For instance, the gym used as an example in this episode of Planet Money had about 6,000 members, and yet the facility itself could only accommodate about 300 people at a time. If all the members who signed up actually went, franchises like that Planet Fitness would have to charge far more than $10 a month.
In fact, of the members who get gym memberships, about HALF never actually visit the gym once.
So, how does a place like Planet Fitness attract a clientele that’s earnest enough to sign up for the gym but not dedicated enough to actually go?