Gyms slash fees for customers running on leaner budgets
IT appears people are thinking of their slimmed-down wallets when it comes to fighting the flab this new year.
Gyms have reported strong interest from potential customers in the early days of 2011 -- but many are seeking discounted packages and shorter-term memberships.
Throughout the country, fitness clubs have noticed many more people are looking for three-month contracts due to uncertainty in the economy.
Deirdre Webster, manager of the leisure centre at Killashee House Hotel in Naas, Co Kildare, said the cost of gym membership had been slashed in half since the hotel opened its doors in 2002.
"There are fantastic offers available. When we opened, it was €700 for membership," Ms Webster said.
The price has been reduced to €365 for the year, or €182.50 upfront and the remainder before March 31.
"More people have time on their hands and they are eager to get out of the house," Ms Webster added.
The centre received more than 30 phone calls yesterday inquiring about membership with a rush expected next week when children return to school.
Throughout the country, prices as well as the quality of facilities on offer vary dramatically, with some facilities offering saunas and free fitness classes or assessments with a qualified instructor.
Lloyd Fitzgerald, health club manager at Sanovite at the Clarion Hotel, Cork, said people were shopping around for options such as off-peak membership, reductions for couples or discounts for companies.
Usage of the Zest Health and Fitness Club at Cavan Crystal Hotel was up due to people having more free time and going more frequently, club manager Gayle Anderson reported.
Ger O'Toole, assistant manager at the Leisure Club at Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel, said people were signing up for a month or three-month membership rather than a year.
"People are joining up to keep their minds active with the recession," he said.
Ben Dunne's chain of five Dublin gyms reported a surge in sign-ups after Christmas -- with up to 3,000 expected to join or renew membership in January.
"People want the right facility but they are price conscious more than ever," Mr Dunne said.
His gyms have slashed prices for groups of three or more people joining together, to €175 for the year in the Carlisle or Northwood branches.
Mr Dunne said he felt the maximum people were willing to pay was around €200 a year. "At the height of operations €500 to €600 would have been considered good value," he said.
In Limerick, the Dooradoyle Leisure Club pointed out that the yearly membership of €375 had dropped by around €50.
John Carey, manager of the Ennis Leisure Complex in Co Clare, said people had been slightly slower to join up this year with many instead opting for pay-as-you-go.