Friday 20 April 2018

Time for yearly gym rush, but limber up by shopping around

Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

GETTING a body beautiful after Christmas could cost you an arm and a leg, with membership of hi-tech gyms costing anything up to ?2,000, a survey by the Irish Independent has shown.

GETTING a body beautiful after Christmas could cost you an arm and a leg, with membership of hi-tech gyms costing anything up to ?2,000, a survey by the Irish Independent has shown.

Irish people are spending hundreds of millions of euro each year on leisure club memberships, with new super gyms opening each day.

But major competition by better-value mogul Ben Dunne has led to a shake-up of the sector, making shopping around a very lucrative exercise.

Thousands of people will flock into gyms next month in the annual mass bid to work off the plum pudding; but the majority of people will drop off the exercise treadmill quickly, making easy money for the gyms and meaning consumers should be extra cautious about what they sign up for.

The good news about gyms is that increased competition has led to more reasonable prices and more special offers than in the past, said Consumers' Association of Ireland Chief Executive Dermott Jewell.

"It's also very worthwhile haggling because there is a level of competition, which means they should be open to it," he said.

In particular, it would be a good idea to seek a three-month trial membership at a quarter of the yearly rate rather than signing up for a full year in advance to make sure you'll actually use it before you fork out the full amount, said Mr Jewell.

It was also worth making sure the gym looked reliable as the CAI did have a number of complaints earlier this year from members of a Dublin gym which closed abruptly with no warning and no compensation, Mr Jewell said.

Figures from analysts Mintel Ireland last year showed that Irish people shelled out ?300m on health and fitness in 2003, and rising; and one in five Dublin adults belongs to a gym, the highest rate nationwide.

Convenience is probably the number one factor affecting gym use. Regardless of good intentions, if it's not handy to get to from your workplace or home, you are less likely to continue making the effort to go there.

After that, some people prefer the most hi-tech equipment and atmosphere possible; but others are intimidated by too young and lycra-clad clientele and prefer a place where they won't feel out of place in a baggy old tracksuit to cover up their bumps.

The most expensive membership in the Irish Independent survey was the David Lloyd Riverview Club in Clonskeagh, Dublin, which has a joining fee of ?700 and a monthly rate of ?108, bringing the cost to ?1,960 for the full year.

That annual fee also includes use of their state-of-the-art gym, exercise classes and swimming pool, but members must pay extra for tennis, squash and badminton.

Ben Dunne's massive Westpoint Club in Blanchardstown has a ?325 yearly deal on offer until next week, and his new Carlisle Club in Kimmage is also squeezing competitors in that part of Dublin.

The YMCA on Aungier Street in Dublin has a much smaller premises but is extremely popular for its central location and range of price options, including pay-as-you-go rates and reduced membership fees for students and the unemployed.

Standard yearly membership is ?343.

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