Health Club Advertising — Meant to Mislead?

Would you set up a system where you deliberately disappoint and anger the people who respond to your marketing? The fitness club industry appears to be doing just that.

On the Get Rich Slowly blog, J.D. Roth details his adventures as he attempts to figure out what it will cost to join a health club. The post is called “Ads I Hate: East Side Athletic Club”, and it begins with a sour experience he has when he responds to that club’s direct mail. He also has trouble getting a straight answer on prices at 24 Hour Fitness and Bally.

More than 75 comments follow the post, many detailing bait-and-switch tactics at fitness clubs all over the country.

Do all health clubs act this way? No — Roth praises Nelson’s Nautilus here in Portland, and the YMCA gets high marks in the comments section. Clearly, there are some good guys.  But it appears that few industries generate more distrust with their marketing than this one.


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