Ezra Klein, Washington Post - Every year, Google searches for gyms spike every year in January, and membership purchases and foot traffic soar. According to Gold’s Gym, its traffic jumps 40 percent between December and January. But just wait a few weeks – it won’t be long before all those good intentions die.
In fact, the gym industry depends on it. Perhaps the most vivid reminder came in a 2014 episode of the podcast Planet Money. Planet Money visited Planet Fitness, one of the biggest gym chains in America. The gym had capacity to hold only about 300 people, but had signed up 6,000 total members. Half of the Planet Fitness members don’t ever go to their gyms, Planet Money says.
Most gyms offer lower prices if you sign up for longer-term contracts, banking that you probably won’t get through the door. Planet Fitness and other chains, like LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness, offer frequent specials to entice people to pay now, and the occasional free pizza or bagels.
If you’re one of the few who really do go to these gyms, you end up getting a great deal. All the people who are at home sitting on the couch are essentially subsidizing your membership, allowing you to pay way less than what your gym services actually cost.