Mike Boyle's Blog

Joining a Health Club
Posted 4/19/2011 10:00:00 AM

This is the first installment in a series designed to get everyone angry with me. Today we look at the concept of joining a health club or fitness center. The progression of the club environment in my lifetime has been an interesting one. We have progressed from the early gyms that were simply places with weights inhabited by this subculture of those who lifted them. Most who lifted weights were considered a bit odd. Females were seen with the frequency of unicorns. The next generation of gyms was also the first of the supposed miracles: The Nautilus Center. I think most of us over forty at one time or another belonged to a small storefront-type Nautilus center that had a row of twelve machines and promised a miracle. The lesson was, and still is, if it appears too good to be true, it probably is. I don’t believe any Nautilus Centers survived, although I think the equipment line still exists today. Next came racquetball clubs and finally the big fitness centers. The club environment today is dominated by large players with multiple clubs across the country. These clubs provide one-stop shopping for the fitness enthusiast. Clubs provide personal trainers, an array of machines, a cornucopia of cardiovascular equipment, and group exercise classes. Clubs have become less of a Mom and Pop operation and more of a corporate entity.

The truth: Health clubs are in the membership business, not the health business. Clubs provide a well-equipped location, but probably hope you don’t show up. The best-trained and best-compensated people in most club chains are the sales force. They won’t take attendance or call if you aren’t around for a while. Don’t choose the biggest or the best. Choose the most convenient to your home or work. The number one correlation to workout consistency is proximity.

The personal training boom has been great for the fitness industry. Personal training has actually made the big club chains more customer-centered, not because they are trying to be nice, but because personal training allows clubs to often double membership-related revenues. Many clients will easily spend 3-5 times the cost of memberships in personal training fees. Personal training has become big business. Five years ago personal training was a temporary job done while figuring out how to get a real job. Now personal trainers who are willing to work hard can earn six-figure incomes while doing something they love.

The bottom line:
1. Chose a club near your home or work to increase the probability of attendance.
2. Get a workout partner. Partners help compliance. It’s easy to stay in bed when no one is waiting for you. It’s also easy to head to the bar after work rather than to the gym when no one is waiting for you.
3. Think about small group sessions with a trainer. Most clubs will offer a better rate on small group or what some call semi-private personal training sessions.

The key is to find a convenient gym, get there and get a workout. The more convenient, the better.

Posted By: Mike Boyle  

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Mike Boyle is known internationally for his pioneering work in the field of Strength & Conditioning and is regarded as one of the top experts in the area for Sports Performance Training. He has made his mark on the industry over the past 30 years with an impressive following of professional athletes, from the US Women’s Olympic teams in Soccer and Ice Hockey to the Boston Bruins, Boston Breakers and New England Revolution. You can learn more about him at his web site, Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning.
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