MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By mid-January, studies have shown about 30 percent of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions. Some people have probably even noticed the crowds starting to thin out at the gym.

So, are gym memberships worth it? Good Question.

At Maple Grove’s Anytime Fitness, you’ll find lots of regulars.

“It does start to decline toward the end of the month. February is still pretty good, but as you get closer to summer, you do get some drops,” says Mike Merrier, the gym’s co-owner. “It’s pretty normal.”

Despite the dip in the spring, Anytime Fitness says, across all of its locations, 80 percent of its members visit more than 100 times a year.

“A lot of them will disappear but then come back,” says Merrier.

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), 18 percent of Americans have a gym membership. Most of them pay on a monthly subscription.

IHRSA reports average health club attendance for 2014 was 102 days per year, but some economic studies find different results.
According to one landmark study, many health club subscribers would be better off paying per visit rather than paying for a monthly membership. Della Vigna and Malmendier used data from three U.S. health clubs and found those who spend a monthly fee of more than $70 attend the gym, on average, 4.8 times a month. That equals about $17/visit.

“We’re not lazy,” says University of Minnesota marketing professor George John. “It’s just that our brains are hard-wired to do a bad job for planning things spread out over a period of time.”

John says gym know this and build in a margin for the number of people who pay, but don’t show up.

“They always want to sign you up for subscriptions,” says John. “That’s true of credit cards, it’s true of gym memberships, it’s true of season tickets.”

Merrier says his small gym doesn’t work like that, but would rather see his members.

“Life gets in the way,” Merrier says. “So, we try to call them, remind them.”

Heather Brown