Damien Maher runs B Fit 4 Life, a gym in Sandyford, Co Dublin, and writes a fitness column for the Irish Independent's Health & Living magazine.
He has noted with interest the rise in outdoor fitness companies --"they work great in Californian weather, but aren't so tempting in an Irish winter" -- and accepts that many of their recruits have had their fill of "warehouse gyms", many of which have slashed their prices for 2011. "It's a business model from the 1980s -- pack them in and let them fend for themselves," he says. "It's no wonder that a lot of people feel that gyms are useless.
"They're signing up on long-term contracts and not receiving proper tuition, so when they don't see any results it's hardly a surprise that they're tarring all gyms with the same brush.
"And then there have been horror stories about people unable to get out of long-term contracts.
"I would advise people to be very careful when choosing a gym. Don't be blinded by talk of flatscreen televisions and X number of treadmills. If they're not trying to sell you their staff's capabilities, forget it.
"And before even approaching a gym, I'd advise you to take a long, hard look at what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve it."
B Fit 4 Life is centred around personal training. A three-month intensive course can cost up to €3,000.
"We are expensive, but we offer a money-back guarantee if results aren't attained," Damien says. "I take a tough-love approach. If clients aren't interested in putting the work in, or changing their diet, I don't want to work with them. They can keep their money. People are in love with the goal but not the effort to get there, and believe me you have to work hard at it."