3 min read

How The Gym Is Like Cable TV

I’m not a gym guy.
Not to say I don’t like to exercise. I do. But I’d rather get my exercise outdoors – walking through the city, jogging through the park, or playing a game or two of pickup soccer.

I sit at a computer in an office for way-too-many hours a day – why would I want my exercise to be indoors as well?

Alas, circumstances have forced me to join a gym.

Starting last week, I signed up for the $30-for-30-days introductory offer at the local NYSC. I really like this gym. It’s small and quiet, and it’s not too busy early in the morning.

But, from what I’ve read so far, I don’t think the costs are worth joining. The monthly cost is heavy to me, especially since I only use a few exercise machines / options, mainly the treadmill and stationary bike.

Actually, I only use the treadmill and bike. I have no desire to use the weights or other contraptions.

So, why do I have to pay for the entire package?

It would be much more attractive, to me, if there were different membership options. Maybe something like:

  • $30/mo for aerobic machines
  • $30/mo for weights
  • $30/mo for classes
  • $80/mo for all access

It’s the same idea as cable TV. Why should I pay for the ‘Premium Package’ when I only want to watch a handful of channels? If the gym was more like the Apple TV – where you can pick and choose which shows / movies you want to watch, and pay for only those selections – how much more enticing would it be to join?

(By the way, I’m not a cable guy, either.)

It also makes sense for folks who use those contraptions. You don’t want someone like me walking over to a weight machine and pulling pins and moving things around. That’s not good for anyone.

For folks who don’t like the treadmills or bikes, that would free up a bit more time / availability for those who do.

Implementing something like this might be tricky. There are probably a few ways to do it, maybe stick the different equipment on different floors. Or give pinnys depending on the membership. Maybe even work with the manufacturers to install programmable scanners (wave your fob to unlock, based on your membership).

Yeah, I get it. It’s not the way things work, and I’m sure all that equipment is expensive. Better to have folks sign up for the whole thing to pay back costs much more quickly.

But, those who are members will hit the gym regularly anyway, and will gladly pay their fees. Why not open it up to an entirely new clientele – folks like me who would join if we didn’t have to pay for the machines we don’t use?

If your goal is to make your customers happy, why not try something different?


The HBR Series is great, and this book in
particular asks the right questions for a better you.

On Managing Yourself

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