(Disclaimer: No offence to serious gym users and the like)
There was an offer which I saw from a website for a 10 day free trial at Carlifornia Fitness. And so I went to check it out, thinking that it was a harmless adventure to test out some professional gym equipment. I went to the Republic Plaza (Raffles City) branch yesterday afternoon and was greeted by the lady staff who called me. Firstly she gave me a tour of the luxurious premises. It was pretty impressive, 3 storeys of extensive facilities: the first with the huge changing room (which I almost got lost) equipped with lockers and steam and sauna rooms; the second with the usual treadmills and various other equipment, flunked by plasma TVs on the wall (actually what’s the point of watching those TV programmes without sound? Then I realised that you can tune your FM radio to listen a la TVMobile style); and the third level with a studio for classes and the weights training stuff. All very cool.
After the tour she sat me down and made a personal profile for me. There was a persoal trainer guy who came to assist me and asked me to step on a digital weighing machine-like thing, but in fact it was a high-tech fitness analysis system. By measuring my weight and sendin electromagnetic signals through my thumbs, the machine was able to detect health stats such as water mass, protein and mineral content, body fat mass, skeletal muscle mass, etc. After that, I was given a printout summary of the analysis, and the guy explained to me that I got a pretty good score of 80/100. He also commented that my body is quite well built, with a higher muscle mass than normal. The only gripe is that my waist-to-hip ratio was a bit high (signs of growing fat after army), and my lower body is less well built than my upper body. Very cool stuff.
After all that, being curious, I asked for the membership charges. I knew that it would be definitely expensive and I would not sign up. But I just asked anyway. She first presented to me the company portfolio (it originally came from 24 Hour Fitness in the US) and then standard Gold plan charges. It was $225 first time member charge, $99 processing fee and $99 per month. Then because I clicked on that website and it was my birthday month, the processing fee will be discounted by $100. She then asked me what ar3y concerns about whether I should sign up with a gym or not. Of course, other than convenience and commitment, price will be a factor. She asked me what’s my budget. I thought for a while, actually I don’t really a budget for this. I gave a rough gauge of $50 per month (that will be $5/session if I come twice a week). She then asked me to hold one while she went to consult anothe staff. Hmm.
Now here comes the interesting part. She came back with another staff member and she seemed very keen to find a price to suit me. She started by saying she can offer a ‘student’ discount by waiving off the $99 processing fee, and reducing the monthly fee to $89. I still said I was pretty expensive. She asked if I was working part time while studying and asked what is my eagerness how much will it take for me to commit to a gym routine. I said probably 6/10 eager to do so. She then tried to persuade me that I am still young and this is the best age to do so…blah blah. I then replied saying that this money could be better well spent for other purposes. She asked, like what, buy things for myself? I think that there are many people around the world, or even just in Singapore, who are struggling to pay their school fees. Even though I do not need to worry about my allowance since my parents will provide, I still think I should not misuse this money and plurge on such unnecessary expenses. Besides, I could exercise on my own or go the school gym sometimes (which I have not done). She then said if I exercise on my own, there will less motivation as compared to coming here, I will have a personal trainer and other people to help me etc. Oh well I am still not prepared to commit to that now.
Here comes the even more interesting part. In an attempt to entice me further, she said she could gave me a ‘staff corporate’ discount by reducing the monthly fee to $69. (I was supposed to say wow!) Now it sounds like selling insurance or multi level marketing in which the price keeps changing. And she also said I only need to pay the first two months and the rest can pay by installments which I don’t think really matters since the total amount paid is still the same. I replied and said maybe I would consider later. She then said (pointing to a sign at the back of the wall which says ‘Special Offer ends today’), “No need to do consider, today is last day. ” (One wonders if the sign is forever there to cheat people.) I said urmm okay. And she thought I accepted the offer and said, “Welcome to…”. I said, almost about to shake her hand out of courtesy, “Welcome means what? No, I’m not commiting to this!”
After some brief closing comments, she left me alone with the original lady. I asked her if they earn commission, she said yes and depends. Hmm. She then proceeded to process the guest trial pass for me while the other lady passed me a referral form and asked me to refer 10 friends. At first I refused to write any. She said my phone so big nobody to write? Apparently this is a common way which they get new members. I then reluctantly wrote some names, people whom I think would use gyms. She then gave me a towel as a token souvenir and said “Happy Belated Birthday”.
Interesting experience. I proceeded to use the gym facilities for a while. Coincidentally, I met my old friend who was surprised to see me here. I asked him how much does he paid. He said he’s under his mum’s corporate plan and they pay around $30-40 thereabouts, renewal at $50 or something.
Update: They just tried to offer me a new price of $59 without any admin/processing fee. Amazing.