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Finances & Money

Oh really Bally Fitness? You think that’s a “Special Offer”?

I’ve been a member of Bally Fitness for about 7 years now. For the first 3 years, I spent about $46 per month, and I think I got some of my money’s worth, at least with the amount of racquetball I played. After the first 3 years, though, my rate went to a promotional level of $8 per month. Same goes with Stacie’s plan, but it went to $11 per month instead.

Each year, I get an email or letter from Bally Fitness telling me they’re bumping my rate up 10%, which was part of the promotion, and I can “lock in” a special rate if I prepay for the whole year. In past years, they’ve actually given up to a 15% discount, but I never took it thinking I would cancel the plan that year. But we’ve found it hard to justify cancelling when we pay about $27/mth COMBINED for our gym memberships (mine is around $11 now and Stacie is up to about $16). Also, my last employer paid for half of my premium (all of it had I stayed there more than 3 years). However, we’ve mostly just been “donating to the Bally church” by only attended “workout mass” once every 3 months or so. Now that my new employer has a free, decent, on-site gym and showers, I’m really considering cancelling though.

But I got an email this week from Bally Fitness announcing yet another rate increase AND a special offer. SEE IF YOU CAN SPOT THE POOR MARKETING OF THIS OFFER:
Dear Michael,

Thank you for being a loyal member of Bally Total Fitness. We value your membership.

As operating costs continue to rise, modest increases in monthly dues rates are necessary.* Because you’re a valued Bally Total Fitness member, you deserve preferred savings. That’s why we’re giving you the opportunity to save when you lock in your current low rate for one year. You can continue to take advantage of the latest brand-name equipment and an amazing variety of the best group exercise classes!

If you decide not to take advantage of this special offer, then you will continue to enjoy the benefits of electronic funds transfer for your monthly dues payments. In accordance with your membership agreement, your monthly dues will be $12.10. Your dues adjustment date: 5/15/2009. The electronic funds transfers will continue until you notify us to change your payment method.

Your special membership offer:
One year for $145.20.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Good one. You can save a whole zero dollars and no cents if you pay in advance. This reminds me of the time when I was a kid that my dad was buying cans of soup for 33 cents each. There was a sign that offered another deal: 3 cans for a dollar. My dad took 6 cans and demanded two cents change from his two dollars. I can’t decide if he was principled or obnoxious.

  • Wow… I wish I could find that kind of price to go to a gym. So many are way more than that, you can easily pay 30-50/month per person that is why I don’t have a membership.

    I would pay either one if I could have that price though.

  • Does “Your dues adjustment date: 5/15/2009.” mean that on 5/15 your rate will be re-assessed? If so, there is a possibility that your monthly rate could rise from $12.10 which would lead to an increased annual total. Perhaps the offer is to basically “lock in” the rate you currently have for the next year. I would check into it to see what that date really means.

  • Hmmm, I wonder if that’s a typo. Seems silly that they’d do that, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Capitalism at it’s best.

    At any rate, if you cancel your membership, does that cancel out Stacie’s, too? You might have to consider that as a factor in the decision since Stacie probably won’t be using the gym you get at work, unless she’s allowed. In that case, I say cancel it. But, you have a pretty decent rate on your memberships, mine is $20/month and that’s only because I have a corporate discount. The other factor for consideration is what is the cost to cancel? Most gyms have a cancellation fee if you cancel in the middle of the membership. But, if neither of those factors come into play, there’s no sense spending $27/ month for something you’re only using a little bit.

  • I once sold t-shirts at a garage sale for $0.25 each or 3 for a dollar. I did it as a joke, but there were people who wanted the 3 for a dollar “deal.” Seriously.

  • @Kristy, Stacie’s is a different membership, so she could keep hers if I cancel mine. And I’ve had this membership well past the original contract so I would expect they wouldn’t charge me to cancel, but you never know until you try or ask.

  • hahaha this is a great post. The gym is pretty much a joke in my house. I have joined pretty much every gym in the area, and pretty much every time I would go one time and be locked into that year rate…just paying month by month. I never went. It looks like you are in denial like I was. I think it’s time to give up on the gym…lol…I have accepted that I don’t go. Even if it’s $5/ month thats $5 going to waste if you don’t go to the gym..


  • The Panera Bread by us has a similar “sale”. You can get a single chocolate chip cookie for 40 cents or get a dozen for $5.00. I asked why it costs 20 cents more for the dozen than if I buy them one at a time and they really were not sure. They just exclaimed that the prices are set by corporate… I think they may have gotten their pricing strategy from Nickel’s shirt sale!

  • Well thanks for the post this definatly helped with my decision to renew my contract for another year. I have had a lifetme membership for almost 15 years now but never went but now that I am over 30 it is more important to me so maybe me and the wife will go this time. I renewed for the year for 180.00 but our memberships have been inactive since 2007. So I guess that’s not all bad. Anyway time to work it out for 2010.

  • Not sure where you all live but check out PLANET FITTNESS…..we are in Baltimore and we love it… open all night and only 10.00 a month on one plan and 20..00 for a different plan……awsome place

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