If you decide to sign up for a gym, how do you go about finding the one that suits you? Let’s look at an example.
Cheap And Everywhere
Germany’s largest chain of gyms goes by “McFit” and if the name for you conjures an association with a fast food restaurant, you got it exactly right. McFit prides itself with having one of the lowest monthly fees nationwide: €16.90 (about $21.50) per month, while they are open 24 h / 365 days a year. And in Germany you can normally expect to pay around €30 / month.
I had a look at one of their places years ago, but what got McFit back to the forefront of my attention was when in the wake of the Love Parade catastrophe I read that Rainer Schaller, the festival’s organisator, is also the owner of McFit.
One news article especially stood out, as it looked at Schaller’s business model: one way to explain McFit’s low price is them not offering any of the additional amenities you get at other gyms – no sauna, no whirlpools, no nothing. Another part of the equation the article infers from a report by audit firm Deloitte:
On average, auditors at the multinational firm Deloitte found, there are only 10 trainers for every 7,000 customers at McFit gyms.
10 Trainers per 7,000 Customers?
Let me repeat that: Around 10 trainers per 7,000 customers. How much coaching with how much quality and how much safety can we expect with that ratio? In a job offer for a fitness trainer I found on McFit’s website, the only fitness-related qualification being asked for is (my translation): “You have rudimentary knowledge in the area of fitness and can successfully apply it”.
If you aren’t living in Germany, Austria or Spain, countries where McFit operates, you might wonder why all this should be of any concern to you. The answer is that McFit is a large operation, standing out for conducting business that way, but there are enough smaller fitness chains or single gyms operating very similarly.
Therefore, when you choose a gym, look out for the following:
- Is the staff qualified? Don’t be afraid to ask for their qualifications, after all you are paying for this, and when in doubt look up who issued the qualification. Anyone with a laser printer can give out certificates, so make sure they come from a respected organisation.
- Is enough staff around to assist you and are they friendly? The best trainers mean nothing, when they aren’t available or not willing to help you.
- Are the facility and the equipment clean and in good repair? You don’t want to run on a treadmill that decides to stop when you go at 30 mph, nor do you want to take home any little critters that might live on the handles.
- Does it have the equipment you need? When you are just starting out, you need a good selection of free weights, ranging from small to large. When you are advanced and want to train specific muscles in isolation, the machines for doing so need to be around.
- Do the opening hours fit in your schedule? For a good workout you need to be focused and shouldn’t have to squeeze it in, because “the gym will close in 30 minutes”.
Only and only if you can put a checkmark next to all of the above, look at the price. If a gym fails on just one of these points, the lowest of prices will still be too much.