Tricky gym contracts

2019-01-28 13:31
Local gym owner Reno Mohan (in red) with client Duane Coetzee.

Local gym owner Reno Mohan (in red) with client Duane Coetzee.

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Are gym memberships a bargain or a complete rip off? What do you think?

Well, I for one regret the day I went to one of the local gyms and signed up for a 24-month gym membership contract. 

Who was I kidding? My mother always shouts at me about how late I wake up on weekends, yet I thought I could be disciplined enough to wake up and go to the gym at least three times a week.

When I signed up at the beginning of 2017 I was so eager and determined to go to gym and actually convinced myself that I could definitely pull this off. I am quite petite, so I really didn’t need gym to lose weight.

My goal was to tone my body and have a six pack. I was like “yes, I can definitely do this!”. I even managed to convince a colleague to also join the gym, so we could be gym buddies.

When I signed up for the membership it was R250 per month, but they had sweetened the deal up a bit to make it more appealing; for the first two months all I had to pay was R99. I couldn’t even see the debit orders going off. My excitement was short-lived though as I only went to the gym for about two months and slowly slipped back to my lazy ways and chose to sleep in over going to sweat it out at the gym.

Cancelling before the contract ended was not even an option for me as I would have had to pay a 60% lump-sum of all the outstanding months. So I just made peace with the heartbreaking debit orders that beeped on my phone every month while I sat on my mom’s couch stuffing my face with fried chips.

According to the gym, I’ve only been inside there 38 times in two years. That’s 38 days out of about 730 days, excluding public holidays. How embarrassing.

I wish someone had told me that joining a gym was almost like getting married. Not only are you financially bound to the gym, you’re also investing time in your gym. Unlike your spouse, a gym isn’t going to get mad if you don’t show up. In fact, your gym is more than willing to take your money whether you go five times a week or five times a year.

Focus on your fitness goals

Local gym owner and personal trainer Reno Mohan said people normally quit gym because they go into it too hard.

“At the beginning, people are so eager that they buy all the necessary stuff like gym clothes to look the part but when they get into gym they have the wrong idea. Personal trainers at big gyms are not interested in you, all they want is your money, so they often make you do hard exercises whereas you need to ease into to it.

“They basically push you out in the long run. They push you into it too hard and you become too sore and leave. They’re supposed to ease you into it by warming up your muscles and strengthening your heart,” he said.

Mohan said the use of cell phones at the gym are a bad habit because people are constantly taking pictures and chatting.

“If you’re going to gym, go with a clear mindset on what you want to achieve. Get a partner with the same mindset as you. You can’t go to the gym to socialise as I’ve seen some gyms advertise that ‘it’s a nice place to meet new people and socialise’. You need to have proper mindset that in 90 days you want to have achieved something and if you can’t do it alone you need to find someone who can assist you like a personal trainer, a friend or even a family member to push you,” said Mohan.

Among things to consider before committing to a gym membershippeople need to ask themselves where they will be in three months, said Mohan. “Ask yourself if you are going to be able to afford it, is your job secure enough and are you in the right mindset. Most people sign up in January and February as it’s a start of a new year but they never think it through properly.”

Locals share their attempts

Local woman Nana Nodada said she cancelled her 12-month gym membership a few months into it as her gym was far from her home and she was not comfortable working out alone.

“I wasn’t consistent so I didn’t see any difference and I felt like I was wasting money.”

Despite this, Nana said she did not think gym was a total rip-off if one was consistent.

She said that with gyms being “a bit pricey and contracts not easy to cancel because of their terms and conditions”, gyms should rather offer people a month-to-month contract “just in case you can’t continue paying or going to the gym”.

For now, Nodada has abandoned her plans of working out.

Another local woman. who asked not to be named, said she has permanently abandoned the idea of signing up for a gym membership after her failed attempts in 2015 and 2016.

She said she and two of her colleagues had signed up for a gym membership but all failed dismally to commit.

“At first we tried to go at least once a week after work but as time went by we started slacking. If one of us couldn’t go, the rest would also not go.

“We eventually became very lazy as we’d only go just to swipe our cards to earn Vitality points.”

Sihle Mfeka, who goes to the gym at least three times a week, said it was all about commitment and being driven. “I mostly work out alone but have made a few gym buddies which is also motivating ...”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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