Above is the current offer at Fitness First Australia. Of course they want you to get in the door at the beginning of the year. It will be so crowded - at least for the first two months before everyone gives up. But there’s a hidden topic of discussion here: how does the type of membership, incentive, or contract, affect our behaviour when it comes to fitness or going to the gym?
For most of us, we’ll probably get too busy finishing up work we take home with us, or chores around the house, or catching up with friends. That’s why those type of people would probably go for the month to month contract; this way, they won’t experience a sunk cost or any cognitive dissonance if they can’t make it all the time. Alternatively, these same people may even spend more to get the full year contract so that they have to consistently go to the gym to get their money’s worth. This indecision is exactly where the gym’s marketing efforts pay off.
So which plan is really better for you if you do decide to take the new years resolution plan? Well, Anytime Fitness Australia, as displayed above, compares their membership fees to other common daily expenditures on their website landing page. Here they added the extra effect of guilt tripping you into their reoccurring small fee membership type. Yes, it’s inexpensive. Yes, you should probably be going to the gym instead of buying coffee. And yes, you can afford it every month to keep going back because you’ll be so much happier if you do and you wouldn’t be wasting your money since it’s on your health. All of these thought statements pertain specifically back to experiencing sunk cost if you don’t go. Either way you’ll experience it. Either on your promise to yourself if you don’t get healthy because you didn’t have any obligation to keep going back, or on your money spent because you don’t use it as often as you intended to.
So before you make the decision, just know that marketers have already built pathways for your money around whichever type of behaviour you end up exhibiting. Once they’ve got you, they’ve got you for good. So even if you’re on a monthly pass, they will find some way to tell you exactly how well you’d do on your new year resolution if you get a friend to sign up too! How about some money off next month’s fees?
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School