7 sneaky ways gyms trick you into buying a membership

It’s happened to most all of us: We lock ourselves into a gym membership, thinking we’ll go more than three times a week if we’re paying a monthly fee.

After one month of treadmill struggles, we lose motivation.

This is exactly what gyms want.

While most companies would flop if no one showed up, at a gym, emptiness means success.

“Gyms want to be this product that everyone buys, but no one actually uses,” Caitlin Kenney and Stacy Vanek Smith explain on NPR’s Planet Money podcast, “The Planet Money Workout.”

For this business model to work, gyms need to tailor to a specific customer: the person that thinks they’re going to work out, but rarely will — the “casual customer.”

Here are seven strategies gyms use to get you to buy that membership:

They design the welcome lobby to look a cocktail lounge.

Courtesy of SoulCycle
You never see the bikes upon entering popular cycling studio SoulCycle -- rather, you're greeted with a sleek reception area.

Instead of laying eyes on equipment upon entering, gyms have created reception areas designed to make you feel like you're in a fancy restaurant or hotel lobby. The less the gym looks like a gym, the better, Fabiano explains to NPR.

In fact, his latest gym in Chelsea -- with clear doors, a white marble welcome desk, and a swanky lounge -- resembles a bar more so than a gym. This is completely intentional, as out-of-shape people feel comfortable in bars, he explains, and gyms want to attract this type of customer.

'This kind of design gets you in the door,' Kenney and Vanek Smith explain. 'Suddenly, you're imagining yourself sitting in those chairs, chatting with a friend, and before you know it, you're shelling out money for a yearly membership.'

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