T Nation

Gym Contracts

A few months ago I opened a small free weights gym,which is available for all members of the public to use on a pay as you go basis.

I decided that unlike the large “commercial” gyms,I would not have contracts and agreements tying people down into a membership for at least a year.

The focus is purely on training,though the gym is small it has the very best free weights equipment I could find (Power racks,Reverse Hyper,Glute/Ham) to name a few.

I thought I could develop a friendly,though serious gym for people to train in, who were fed up with fitness centres and all the geeky exercises that are performed in them.

So I threw open the doors to the public,no joining fee,no contracts no agreements.
And I have to say that after 3 months I now understand why all the major clubs have people sign contracts.

I have had many people use the facility without paying or book a PT session then not turn up.
And when I finally manage to contact these people(by phone) they tell me that they do not have to pay a cent as they have not signed a contract/agreement.

This has happened enough times,for me to of changed this policy.
I have now introduced a 12 month agreement,which stipulates that you pay before each training session and that if you book a PT session and do not turn up without giving 24hrs notice you will be charged for the full session.

I know that no T-men/Vixen would behave in such a dishonourable way.
But the fact is the public want contracts.

I tried to be different and put trust in the people to have honour and dignity,and it was thrown back in my face.

So next time you find yourself having to sign a contract with a new club.
Do not blame the Gym after all they are only giving the public exactly what they want.

Hey Zippy. I don’t blame you for going that route. Rule no. 1: Cover your assets.
Any T-man wouldn’t have a problem paying for what they get, and being responsible for their own actions. In general, people are dishonest and will get away with whatever they can. Sad but true.
You gotta do whatcha gotta do.

Billy

Our gym(Planet Gym)is $300.00 ayear or $40.00 a month pay as you go.If you don’t pay, you don’t train.I can understand your frustration. The folks who really want to train will have no problem with your new policy,good luck.

I’ve had a policy in mind similar to what Tony stated, but a little different. My gym will be pay-as-you go, but the membership will be limited (as in only so many members, no continuous drive to increase membership). When it’s full, it’s full, and your name goes on a waiting list. However, if you don’t pay your membership by the 10th of the month, your spot goes to the next person on the waiting list, and your name goes on the waiting list. If you abuse the equipment or start any fights, you’re out for life. I wouldn’t care if any of the members are on gear or whatever, but no using or selling on the premises. Trainers will be paid by the facility, and will train any one who is a member for free (as in there’s no additional charge to use the trainers, use them if you want). And I wouldn’t be in this to make money – as long as it breaks even, I’m happy.

I believe this will do a few things – people will value the membership if they’re long-term, and if not, it’ll go to some one who is. The membership will be filtered rather quickly. There won’t be any pressure on the trainers to become salesmen rather than trainers. No pressure on the members to “upgrade” their membership will generate a better atmosphere.

Equipment will be all the good stuff, with areas for odd lifts and sandbags. Strongmen (and women) are more than welcome. Cages and platforms will abound.

I don’t think most people have a problem with contracts. Its issues like Bally’s refusing to stop debting your credit card/ bank account even after you’ve notified them 3 times that you’re moving out of state - or just continuing to charge you after the contract is over, that infuriates people.

Yeah, you need to cover your own ass first. Wouldn’t it be great if you could only have T-men and vixens in your gym? That would be a good environment.

Btw, where are you located?

My gym is located in Birmingham,England.
I forgot I was using my brothers pseudonym when I posted.

Some good points have been raised,I can understand the frustration re the Ballys incident.

It really is true how a small minority can spoil it for the rest.But you learn from your mistakes.

I have no doubt that us T-folks would never be so deceitful.And indeed those who have visited from this forum have been honourable people.

T-men/Vixen are welcome to visit anytime.

I had a gym give me problems when I tried to quit, “Oh, to get your refund you have to call next week when X is around.”

I had another gym continue to bill me for 2-3 months after I quit and then finally cancel my membership for real.

I had yet another gym allow me to transfer the membership to a friend so they got my rate with no signup costs.

I just joined another gym with a flat rate cash/check fee (a very reasonable one) for the year. It’s a good, simple system, I think.

Contracts suck. Have a policy that requires up-front payment, if its mid-month it gets pro-rated. Talk with financial institutions about automatic deduction. Provide membership cards that when scanned tell you whether someone is up to date, if they aren’t, they are out the door.

Contracts with these organizations suck. I go month to month. Usually there is a sign-up fee which is non-refundable which is a good incentive to continue paying.

FYI - Not all those who claim to T-men/Vixen are honorable. I can say it from experience.

Cover your ass at all cost and make sure you can force them to pay you what they owe you. When it comes to money, you’ll be surprised at some of the dirty stuff people would do regardless of their T-men/vixen status.

So how is the gym doing besides for the few bad seeds? How many square feet do you have? I would to open a similiar gym someday so I’d like to hear some of the good and bad experiences so far, please.

Contracts are a necessary evil. Gyms usually require decent amounts of floor space, insurance, 16-24hour staffing, etc. That all costs money to run.

As Beni has found you cannot reliably run a gym without contractual commitments. Going day to day or month to month would require higher overall rates to cover the bills; something that might actually dissuade patrons. Think of contracts as subsidies for the dedicated T-man/vixen.

Just for anyone who’s interested, there is a relatively painless way to avoid the contract hassles that so often occur with some of the larger gym chains.

Before you sign up, open up a new bank account at a different bank from the one you normally use. This account will be used ONLY to pay this gym membership fee. Once you decide to quit, notify the management and fulfill whatever contractual obligations you have, then just close the bank account.

No fuss, no muss. And let me tell you, BOY does it feel good when Bally’s (or wherever) screws its paperwork up and calls you asking why it is that you’re behind in your payments… You can have a LOT of fun with them then. Heh heh heh.

Zippy,
One other tool you could use is GYM ASSISTANT,it’s swipe card system that members use when they come in to the gym,it keeps track of members and thier paid status.Check out gymassistant.com. It will help take away one your headaches.

Beni’s gym is awesome. I went there in early October to train for a couple of hours.

I was going as part of the British T-Cell, I couldn’t make the original date so went on my own in Oct.

I was scheduled for 2 hours training under Beni’s guidance. I got about 4 hours of guidance and tuition and after that we were chatting for a good hour or so. Would’ve been longer if it wasn’t for the car parking time elapsed…

Since then I’ve changed over to Westside training and as I’ve had tuition from someone who has trained at Westside for a number of months I know that I’m not just assuming I’m doing ok from reading an article.

Beni is a bloody nice bloke and a very good teacher…

Very nice gym as well…

Cheers…Stubob…

What I have is a 1 year contract with month-month after the year. There is no change in price. The gym has about 12 in the area and has expanded into DC and Florida, which we can use.

I don't like contracts but 1 year isn't a big deal. The Bally's and Gold's have a 50 mile policy. If there is another one of their gyms within 50 miles you can't cancel. This is strange to my especially with Gold's since they are independent of one another. BTW, it's 50 miles "as the crow flies" and not 50 highway miles. Big difference.

Good luck on your gym and T-Men/Vixens are honorable. The problem is just cause they look the part doesn't mean they are.

Very smart! Good luck!
Give your clients a free gift for every new client they bring in - a free session or a free Protein Tub!

I’m not fully understanding this, so maybe it’s a brit thing.

You say pay as you go, yet people still worked out for free?

Wouldn’t you just collect payment when people walk in the door, ie a true pay as you go?

Or are you trying to collect payment the month after they went, or at the end of the month they started?
That would be called “pay after you go” in my book.

Anyway, yeah some people need contracts to keep them honest. And some dont.

I like the concept of pay as you go, but a tough part I see in it would be the collecting of fees every time someone comes in the door.
So to deal with that I would go with a card system. Cards have gotten quite cheap to make, so you could effectively have people come in, and pay for it when they first show up.
Then, if they like the place, they can start paying for each month at the start of the month, and have a photo card made with the magnetic strip. That would give them access for that month, and they could then just pay for future months or just toss it and be done.
Good members would be willing to pay in that manner I believe, and would eliminate the needs for contracts and sales of contracts.
Now, you still have to deal with legal issues, so you would need a waiver to be signed.
Also, another tough issue inherent with short term is theft. Not a lot of stuff could be swiped, but people could slip away with little parts of machines and smaller free weights.