Offensive Ways Gyms Get Your Business
The business of health can be a bit awkward. It’s easy to forget that doctors, dentists and just about any other professional whose job is to keep you alive and healthy still needs to make a living. Your gynecologist or dental hygienist may not be too pushy about getting you in for a visit because, well, they’re making bank either way. But gyms and their employees rely on selling those packages, signing those new members and getting butts in their cycling classes in order to be profitable. That’s why gyms—places that should make you feel welcome and encouraged—can sometimes feel intimidating, frightening, and downright insulting. Some gyms, rather than applaud you for even making the effort of showing up, humiliate you into showing up more, or even frighten you into buying more. Here are offensive ways gyms get your business.
Telling you you’re worth it
You’re worth a hot body. You’re worth attention. You’re worth this $130 a month gym membership. When gyms use this language, they’re playing on reverse psychology. They’re essentially implying that if you don’t go for their program, that you do not believe you are worth much. But maybe going to the $30 a month gym and saving for a down payment on a house is your way of proving to yourself you’re worth something.
Bringing up bikini season
When gyms bring up impending bikini season, they take what was a fun time you were looking forward to—a time filled with imagery of playing in the ocean and barbecuing with friends around a pool—and turn it into something you’re dreading. They imply summer is about nothing but looking hot in a bikini and if you don’t, then your summer is a waste.
Ah the old body analysis. This is when a gym employee weighs you, measures you and does a few other tricks to let you know you are terribly out of shape. They spit numbers at you to make you feel like, if you don’t make some changes, you could drop dead at any minute. Heck, you didn’t even know you were fat but apparently, you are!
If you have a friend who is pushing you to join her gym, that’s probably because her gym offered her a year free membership or some perk to bring in friends. That’s insulting because that gym has turned your good buddy into an annoying sales person.
Reminding you of holiday eating
When you get back in the city after the holidays, after visiting friends and eating a-plenty, every gym has large signs reminding you of the gravy and fruitcake you consumed. They may make some clever comment about how you’re turning into Santa Claus himself. Thanks for turning our lovely holiday memories into shame.
Putting machines in windows
Some gyms line up their machines in the front windows of their business. If you look closely, you’ll swear they put a spotlight on each treadmill. This is to put their members on display and make people passing by feel bad that they aren’t working out right now. If you join the gym then you too could be a part of the guild display.
What was meant to be a pleasant meet and greet with a gym employee turns into an interrogation. The employee may ask you things like, “Do you want to live to be 50? Do you want to be around when your children graduate high school? Do you want your partner to remain sexually interested in you?”
Strutting their hottest trainers
Of course, the super hot, former bodybuilder trainer with the fake tan and perky breasts gives you the gym tour. Subtext: “You could look like me!” What the gym doesn’t mention is that that trainer didn’t get that way by using the treadmill three times a week. She hasn’t eaten a carb in a decade and she works out for four hours a day. So, you probably don’t look like her if you sign up.
Having different membership levels
Some gyms have membership “levels” that come with things like access to masseuses and the super-secret sauna…but only once you’ve purchased 50 personal trainer sessions and referred 10 friends. It’s the cool kids in high school all over again, leaving you out of their exclusive club.
Odd inspirational quotes
Some gyms post some rather pompous quotes around the gym. These quotes may say things like, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and “Fear has two meanings: Forget everything and run or Face everything and rise.” You’re just trying to lose five pounds. You’re not trying to build Rome, and if you get off the treadmill, it’s not because you are afraid—it’s because your kid needs to be picked up from school. Get over yourself, gym.
Suggesting you’re incapable
The second you hesitate, the gym employee says, “Well if you don’t think you can handle it…” or “If you don’t think you’re ready….” Excuse me? Being ready to work out five days a week and being willing to pay $1,500 for the year to do so are two different things. Don’t confuse the two, gym employee.
Posting before and after pictures
Some gyms get the permission of their clients to post their before and after photos around the building. They, naturally, choose the clients who saw the most drastic results. But this is another type of scare tactic; it’s like saying, “Look how this person was without our gym in their life. That could be you.”
Suggesting you aren’t committed
“If you took your fitness seriously, you’d buy this package” or “People who actually want results are taking this class.” In other words you, the person who is at the gym every morning bright and early to get in her elliptical time before work, don’t take your fitness seriously. Your attempt is a joke.
Threatening to take the deal away
When a gym tries to tell you this signing deal will only last today, they are suggesting you cannot read. They’re insinuating you cannot read their adds, that have been promoting this same deal every day for years. They’re saying you are incapable of deciphering their ads on billboards, in the newspaper, on bus benches, and all over the gym walls. You know this deal isn’t going anywhere.
Insisting contracts keep you committed
Many gyms force you to sign a multi-month or even year-long contract, stating that it’s the only way you’ll be motivated to go to the gym. Right. Sure. Okay. If you hand them $2,000, it’s for your good. Uh-uh.
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