When you visit a new gym, whether you’re in your hometown or on a vacation, it’s typically a standard procedure to pay a day pass fee.
Some gyms may offer your first visit free under a promotion and others (in my experience) charge as much as $45. As a part of business, everything cost money, so being charged something doesn’t often come as a surprise. Recently I was reminded of my personal “why” for charging only $5 at my gym for a day pass.
I’ve gotten a lot of pressure to raise this price in just the few years we’ve been open. “It’s not enough,” “You’re devaluing your gym by being that cheap.”
Here’s MY story and my reason behind it all.
While on vacation I visited 2 gyms; one gym charged a $15 day pass, the other charged $20. The first gym was one I thought had some nice equipment I wanted to try out and see if it was something I would potentially add to my gym, so I saw it as a small investment for my personal knowledge. The second gym, I just needed a place to workout. At 30 years old coming up with a total of $35 for day passes wasn’t a hard task, but it wasn’t always that way.
When I first started being “allowed” to go to the gym, I was 13.
That was the minimum age. I’d get to tag along with a friend and their parents would typically pay for me, so no big deal. As I got into high school and started enjoying going to the gym I started having to pay my own way.
$7 got me freedom. I could go to the gym and for just a few hours escape reality, my problems, focus on me, and making myself proud. Whether it was doing 1 more pull-up or moving the pin down on a machine to lift more weight, I began to build this internal confidence. I found a way to show myself I was capable of progress, not matter how small. It was my favorite thing that I really didn’t share with many people because comparatively I was “weak.”
Coming from a big family I wasn’t able to just ask my parents for money and even if I did, I hated the feeling of asking. So I saved money when I could and I followed other members in if I couldn’t afford it and prayed I didn’t get caught. I know I’m not the only one that had that issue as a teenager, but that freedom, that experience, that escape, I needed it. It kept me out of trouble and it helped me mentally every day. The gym completely changed my life, quietly.
So why just a $5 day pass?
Because there’s a kid just like me walking around needing exactly what my gym can give and what the gym always gave me: support, confidence, an experience, a family. Not every day-passer that comes through may need or be looking for that. They may just want to workout and that’s ok too.
Everytime I see that $5, and even begin to think about how much I should charge, I’m reminded of WHY I’m even here running a gym in the first place, and there’s not a dollar amount that can buy what the gym gave me.