The fitness industry is notorious for having very confusing pricing, facility fees, sign-up fees, specials, contracts, and renewals. Unfortunately, gym pricing has become so convoluted, the general public really doesn’t understand the value of fitness or coaching.
At first glance, many coached class-based services like CrossFit, Orange Theory, Spin, or Yoga can seem really expensive. Sometimes these can cost as much as $30/class. But, millions of people are moving toward instruction-based fitness by professionals and seeing an incredible value in the service.
To understand pricing you need to know a little more about the industry’s history.
Historically, there has only been one basic business model in fitness – what I call the “rental plus up-sell” model. You’ve probably been a part of this one. Here are the major points:
- You join Gym XYZ for a super-low monthly rate with a 1 or 2 year contract.
- You go to Gym XYZ for about 6 weeks then attendance becomes…well… spotty.
- If you decide you want to really get in shape this time you may take advantage of a free personal training session from one of the 20-somethings walking around Gym XYZ with a clipboard.
- This good-looking 20-something sells you a 30-pack of personal training sessions for a $1,999 special
Historically, these have been your 2 options: Access to space and Personal Training. Gyms bank on millions of people rushing into long-term contracts on January 1st knowing full-well that about 90% of those people won’t be using the gym in 6 weeks. Think of it like over-selling a flight. But, instead of overselling by 2 or 3 seats, they’re over-selling by almost 10 times capacity.
If you wanted some guidance in your training, the only option you had was personal training. Currently in Kansas City, the average personal training hour will run you $80. Let’s say you want to get the recommended 3 hours/week of exercise with a trainer – now you’re looking at a whopping $1,000/month!
So, there are your options – 20 bucks a month for a membership you’ll never use or 1,000 bucks to have access to a coach.
Enter: Small Group.
Personal Trainers, realizing they could only work a 10 hour day and keep their sanity, began to bunch up their clients by ability levels and goals. Sometimes in groups of 3, 4, or 5. These trainers were able to increase their hourly rate, while effectively reducing the rate to their clients. So, instead of 1 person paying $80/hour now 4 people are each paying $30/hour. It’s a win-win.
This is where CrossFit and other group fitness models were born. Clients would start 1-on-1, learn the movements, see some consistency, then get paired up with other like-minded clients in a small group.
Formerly, the only way that you could walk into a gym and have a coach know your name, know your goals, know your lift numbers, know your injuries and mobility restrictions, and know your health history was to pay a personal trainer somewhere between $80/hr (for those fresh out of Community College) and $150/hr (experienced professionals).
The introduction of the small group class model has given participants the personalized touch of a personal trainer at a fraction (often times 10%) of the price. So, while it may seem on the surface like small group training is an expensive gym membership, a better way to frame your understanding is to view it as inexpensive personal training in a group environment.