30 November 2020

Keeping fit and healthy this year has been challenging for the majority of us as COVID-19 has done its best to disrupt everyday life for New Zealanders. Gyms temporarily closing in March this year gave their members the option of working out online (which for Les Mills was very successful), while most of the population decided to go it alone and keep fit by exercising in the garage, local reserve or back garden.  Since March 25th this year, gyms and fitness centres - like other businesses - have been hit hard. Redundancies and future uncertainty has led to an expected fall in the number of new members joining gyms and fitness centres. And rightly so too; uncertain times lie ahead, and any disposable income might now be used to save for a rainy day. There have been many rainy days this year already and although New Zealand is at alert level 1, the nature of the COVID-19 virus means that it can re-emerge quickly, as it has recently done in Europe at the time of writing this article. A lot has been said of the effect the virus has had on the fitness industry, and though New Zealand is by no means clear in eradicating the virus, there is a small opportunity for some of us to look ahead and get back to normal with our fitness.

 If you are one of these people, or someone who is looking for a new gym or fitness centre to reinvigorate your motivation and passion, here is a list of recommendations for you. Choosing a new gym is not easy, and there are plenty out there. Do your research first; like buying a car or house, complete due diligence first so at the end of the day you can pay your weekly gym membership in confidence, knowing that you have sourced well. Some recommendations to consider include:


What can you afford to pay per week? Gym membership numbers have fallen since COVID-19 came into the country. There is an expectation that gyms and fitness centres are working hard to provide attractive pricing to lure you in, but once you are in, how do they keep you happy and satisfied with the product they provide? Excellent classes or robust high-tech equipment are reasons to join a gym, but they come at a cost, so it’s worth looking around to see what competitors are offering.

Here are some current market offerings at the time of writing this article:

●        Les Mills: $29 per week on a Month Multi membership, 12 months, Auckland City

●        City Fitness, Newmarket, Auckland $6.99 per week, 12 months

●        Jetts: $10.99 per week, 12 months, Albany, Auckland

●        Anytime Fitness: $16.99 per week, 12 months, Takanini, Auckland

You can see there’s a vast difference in pricing, which helps to find something to suit your budget. Be sure to ask questions and get thorough answers before handing over your hard-earned dollars! Paying nearly $120 a month for a year at Les Mills may seem expensive to some of us - but does this include unlimited classes? Can you use the gym membership at other Les Mills gyms in the city, or indeed around the country? If so, this could be great value for money if you exercise daily. In comparison, what do you get for $6.99 per week at City Fitness in Newmarket? Ask the questions: is this for off-peak times only? Is this price solely for the gym? Will you need to pay for additional classes? If you are someone with a tight budget or just looking to train a couple of days a week, paying $6.99 per week would seem excellent value for money.

Sometimes things look too good to be true. How long is your gym contract? Some gyms may look to lock you in to a 24 to 36 month contract, so always be careful and read the small print. A twelve-month contract is the norm - but some memberships can be more flexible, so it’s definitely worth asking. After all, it is a buyer’s market at present. Be aware of added extras or add-ons to your weekly gym membership; the big franchise gyms have experienced and trained salespeople who may try to get you to buy into a scheme or extra classes that you probably do not need. Before you sign your membership contract, ask for a clear explanation on payment methods or plans, guest fees, and your membership renewal. By being thorough and diligent in your research you can be confident that your gym subscription is money well-spent.


How close the gym or the fitness centre is to where you live or work can also be a contributing factor when picking a gym. Will you be looking for convenience of use - ie because the gym is near home, you can easily use it on an evening or at weekends? Or are you looking for a gym that is close to work, so you can access this at lunchtimes? Gym proximity is often up for discussion. Finding the right gym and at the right price often has its limitations, and some users will travel out of the way to be a member of a gym because it offers what they want and the extra travel is worth it to them. However, some of us looking to exercise may look for something in our local community, with just a short drive or walking distance to the facility. This is important as data seems to suggest that the further the gym is away from your home, the less you use it. A report found that users who lived within 4-5 miles of their gym, used the gym five times more a month than those who lived outside a 4-5 mile radius. So when looking for a gym, is location really important? Does physical convenience come into your decision-making?

Equipment & extras

Does the type of equipment, or presence of a sauna and café at your gym, play a part when you are deciding? It’s really important to do your research here. Pick a possible two or three gyms and then look at what they have to offer. Have a good walk around each gym - there’s so much equipment available for gyms to source, so does this gym have what you are looking for? Furthermore, does the gym have enough of the equipment that you are looking for? Squat racks and bench pressing are popular in gyms, but you do not want to be waiting to use the equipment each week if the gym has a large membership, but low numbers of specific equipment. If you like using dumbbells or kettlebells, does the gym have enough or a large range to satisfy you and your training? Are you more of a cardio person?

What level of gym facilities are you looking for? When you look around, does the equipment look new and clean, or is it outdated with bits missing? Check to see if the equipment is in good condition and offers the latest technological features. Do the spin bikes have all their pedal straps? Does the treadmill have an incline and decline function? Does the rowing machine glide smoothly on its rail? Does the Elliptical machine have numerous levels of resistance, or a USB or Bluetooth function for you to listen to your music or watch videos?

Are you more of a social gym member, looking for group classes and a get-together for coffee after a class? Many of the larger gym facilities offer group fitness for members who want to workout with others to a fast and upbeat soundtrack blaring from the speakers. Les Mills have BODYATTACK or BODYCOMBAT, amongst their varied member offering. ALLFIT 24/7 Takapuna, Auckland has spin, boxing or yoga to entice new members. These offerings seem great - and generally are - but competition in the fitness industry is at an all time high. In Takapuna, Auckland, there are 10 gyms or exercise facilities within 3km of each other. This would suggest that there is a large market out there; enough for each gym to have a little bit of the fitness pie. Try these gyms out for a free trial and get a taste of what they offer. What’s their unique service, if they have one? Aside from quality of equipment, customer experience and staff engagement with you should be a primary factor when looking for a gym.

Are you looking for a gym or fitness centre that offers more than weights and classes? Are you looking to swim as part of your fitness regime? Are you looking to replenish, refuel, and socialize with fellow members after working out? One such place in Auckland is Health, Sports & Fitness Club in Kingsland. In Hamilton, Fastlane Fitness offers something very similar. When attending an all-in-one niche fitness centre which offers something very different to the standard gym floor and weights, membership won’t be cheap but it will be exclusive. Once again, it depends on what you are looking for and your demands or expectations. These all-in-one fitness centres often provide child minding services for new-born and pre-school children. Post-natal women wanting to get back into fitness can often be held up by lack of time or opportunity. So, having the confidence and reassurance that your baby or child is being carefully looked after under the same roof as you work out, could be a major decider in which gym you choose. Fastlane Fitness & Health, Sports & Fitness both offer high-end nutritional offerings at their onsite cafés. Healthy meal plans, vegan & vegetarian options provide a service to members which is very hard to compete with. Smoothies and juices provide a better-than-standard offering too. So keeping yourself hydrated or replenished after a workout should not be a problem... but could come at a financial cost. These types of exclusive fitness centres and gyms provide a great option when looking for a new gym, but make sure you financially plan ahead to see what it may cost you per month/year to be a member. You may end up paying more than you budgeted for because of the extras some gyms and fitness centres offer.

Listen to your gut

Lastly, what’s your gut feeling? This is normally a good guide. Little peripheral factors are worth considering. What’s the car parking like? At peak-time, will you have to park down the street and walk 10 minutes (which might be a good warm-up)! Is the gym clean? A good guide to tell you this is the toilets and showers - check and see if they’re getting the attention they deserve. They should, and if not, you should consider why not? Are the personal trainers and fitness instructors qualified? Are they experts in their field? Have they got the correct accreditation?

Like buying a car or a house, make sure you do your research before you hand over your hard-earned dollar. Visit a few gyms you have shortlisted. Ask for a free trial, and be as diligent as possible in gathering research to make your decision. These are challenging times for everyone right now, and gyms and fitness centres are feeling the pinch of challenging membership numbers. As a potential customer, you are in a strong position to pick and choose what type of membership you are looking for, and for how long. Best of luck - and say hello to Gym for me!

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