Whatever you may think of Brexit you can’t deny it’s a mess. However the more it goes on I can see marked parallels between the European Union and the fitness industry.
Gyms hire highly trained people to recruit members and let’s face it gym membership is relatively cheap and it’s deliberately cheap.
At present, the minimum wage in the UK is around £8.19 per hour. (1.) After taxes and national insurance that comes to over £274.38 over 40 hours. Most gym memberships are between £30–45 per month i.e. £7.50–12 per week. It’s so cheap that people won’t notice. It’s around 2.74%.
When you join a gym and you are in your 14–21-day cooling-off period they are very nice to you. During that time the sales staff will call you to ensure that you are getting value for your membership, if you don’t come in they’ll call you to say “we missed you.” They’ll get your “valued comments” on each class you attend.
However, once you are out of that cooling-off period and made your first payment they’ll forget about you. You won’t get letters, emails or texts reminding you to come in.
Indeed they won’t want you to come in. Gyms make their money from people signing up, paying their membership subscriptions and not coming in.
Most gyms have a membership of 5000 and at best 5–10% of those members will be active and come regularly. People do not mind paying for something if they are getting value for it.
Many gyms will send you the terms and conditions in the post and most people won’t read them. In many gym memberships, there is the rollover clause which states that there is a narrow window period when you can cancel your gym membership. If you don’t cancel it during that time they will unilaterally extend it for another 12 months.
In many cases to cancel your membership, you have to make an appointment with the membership services manager and cancel in person. They won’t accept a letter. They deliberately make it hard for you to leave.
These video illustrates this perfectly.
If you do leave they will move heaven and earth to get you to stay. In some cases on leaving you’ll get a nice letter from the membership team giving you a month or two of free membership with an appointment with the membership team to show you what you’ve missed. Then they’ll try to get you to join.
Case study- the General Manager at fitness first.
There was one man who came in like clockwork every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30am. I was on reception and I checked his membership. He was on an unlimited membership for £75 per month which allowed him unlimited use of any Fitness First anywhere in the world. He got his membership online. On checking his attendance he only came to our gym at 0630 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A £21 off-peak membership would have covered that.
I had a chat with him and arranged for his membership to be downgraded saving him some £54 per month.
The general manager gave me a real telling off.
The following day using the money he saved he upgraded to a family membership for his wife, his son and daughter. That was very short-sighted, especially when his daughter brought three of her friends to join. That made the general manager looking very silly.
Stop bringing members back to the gym
When I was a self-employed personal trainer at Fitness first I would write to everybody on the birthday list. That was a list of all those who had a birthday that week. I would write to them saying “As it’s your birthday I’d like to give you a free personal training session. As you can see from my rates this would normally cost you £30. Please phone me to book in.”
One in thirty would phone me to book in.
However, the general manager was far from pleased. He pulled me across to one side saying that I was getting members who hadn’t been in for months- in some cases years to come back and re-train.
He said that gyms require a minimum of 50% nonattendance to remain profitable and the higher the level of non-attendance the more profitable they are.
The member who wanted to leave.
When I worked at one gym I was covering reception and this young man came in and asked to cancel his membership. I called the membership services manager (MSM.)
This man explained that he’d been paying some £25 per month and not been once- he’d been a member for 5 years and hadn’t been in for four years. He could not justify paying £25 per month and getting nothing for it. He explained he was out of contract and had sent a letter in by recorded delivery and it had been received. He said he had to just give one months’ notice.
The membership services manager then tried to persuade him to stay offering him a free paid classes package and a few free personal training sessions with me and a free session for his better half with our nail technician. Before I could say anything the MSM said they’d be when I was on hours so I had to comply. This man still said no.
I asked this man what was he planning to do to get himself in shape. He said he’d decided to join a bootcamp.
Then the MSM said “under the terms and conditions of your contract we can roll over your contract for another 12 months if you do not cancel within a certain window period every year. You failed to do so and you have another 12 months. You can buy yourself out by paying a year upfront but you’d have no access to the gym at all.
The member went off rather annoyed.
I said to the MSM “you should have had this conversation with him four years ago when he stopped getting value for his membership. The moment you noticed a fall in attendance you should have phoned him to get him to come back in. You can’t blame him for wanting to save his money.”
The following day this man turned up and said he was cancelling his direct debit. He had phoned up head office who told him that his window period was ironically that month. He told the MSM if they made any attempt to sue him he’d get 20 of his friends to cancel and move to the bootcamp. In fact, he turned up with his parents and his two sisters who found out when their window period for cancelling was and served notice. Ironically it was that month.
The MSM then phoned up our legal department who basically said it would be pointless in taking any legal action. A year’s membership would be £300. Legal fees would be a few thousand. It would take some 6 months to get to court, he’d reveal in court the rollover clause and that the gym was very happy to take his money off him without giving him any value back.
Similarities with the EU.
Britain pays some £55 million per day to the EU in membership.
Total government income is some £605 billion (5.) That is some £1.657 billion per day. £55 million is a drop in the ocean. It works out at some 3.13% of daily income. That’s neither here nor there.
Only a small number of people benefit from our membership of the EU.
The EU has been milking us off all that money every day but we’ve not been getting value for it. This is why the people of the UK chose to leave for 4 reasons (3.)
1. So we could make our own laws.
2. So we could control our own borders.
3. So we could make our own trade deals.
4. So we could be governed by our own democratically elected government.
Gyms raise their prices every now and then and they do so slowly so people don’t notice, the odd pound or two.
In 1972 the UK signed the European Communities Act. Under that law if there was a conflict between UK law and EU law then EU law prevailed (7). Whilst that act was in force we were under contract to the EU and so if we wanted to leave we’d have to pay the membership for the remainder of the contract but not have access to the services. In exactly the same way that if you want to cancel your membership outside your window period you have to pay the remainder of the contract.
This was in effect what PM Theresa May’s withdrawal act.
The problem here was that PM May never repealed the 1972 European Communities Act. It was only done in 2019 (8.) However, despite that they have moved heaven and earth to get us to stay.
The UK is one of the only three net givers of money to the EU. Once we leave and we don’t give them £55 million a day they will be financially worse off.
The reasons why the EU doesn’t want us to leave is simple.
Firstly it makes them look bad.
Secondly, there is the money.
Thirdly it will make it harder to recruit other European Countries who are not members e.g. Russia.
Lastly, it will make it easier for others to leave as the floodgates will open.
These conversations should have taken place several years ago when the UK stopped getting value for its membership to the EU.
This happens all the time. This is why with our flagship £1.50 per day programme Mums in Mind where we livestream fitness classes across the internet we send people email and text message reminders of classes. If someone doesn’t attend we telephone them, email and write a letter to them reminding them to come in. We want people to come- gyms don’t.
What you will gain on this programme
- You’ll look better.
- You’ll feel better.
- You’ll lose excess body fat.
- You’ll save money because you won’t need those all those expensive weight loss items you’ve bought which haven’t worked. How many methods have you tried which have not worked?
- You’ll save time.
- You’ll save effort because your programme will be devised for you.
- You’ll feel more comfortable in yourself.
- You’ll get compliments from your friends.
- You will receive praise from people.
- Your health will improve no end.
- You will sleep better.
- You will wake up with more energy.
- You will feel less stressed.
- You are losing excess fat faster than before.
Check out http://www.operationmumsinmind.com
1. National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage rates https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates
2. Friends — Chandler and Ross “Quit the Gym and the Bank” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_LM2ZlbmP8
3. News Moorhead man says he had trouble cancelling gym membership https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyWolhgYxdE
4. Fine print can make gym memberships tough to cancel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BaHaFbku4s
5. HMRC annual report and accounts: 2017 to 2018 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmrc-annual-report-and-accounts-2017-to-2018/hmrc-annual-report-and-accounts-2017-to-2018-executive-summary#our-accounts
6. Anne Widdecombe to the Brexit Party
7. Reality Check: Did the UK lose its sovereignty in 1972? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35766434
8. Brexit Secretary signs order to scrap 1972 Brussels Act — ending all EU law in the UK https://www.gov.uk/government/news/brexit-secretary-signs-order-to-scrap-1972-brussels-act-ending-all-eu-law-in-the-uk
9. Share of Member States in EU GDP https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-eurostat-news/-/DDN-20170410-1