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Employee Gym Membership Discounts: Going Beyond the Rate!

Holly Iftner

People at the gym riding exercise bikes to do cardio and improve their health.

As the New Year approaches, joining a gym may be high on your employees’ resolution list and offering them a gym membership discount through a gym your company has partnered with may be high on yours! Corporate discounts on gym memberships are very common, are generally low administration for companies and can be a good way for employers of all sizes to provide employees with a wellness benefit in a cost effective manner.

Here are 10 things you should consider as you make your final selection of a gym to partner with for your employee workouts:

  1. Survey – Most people have been members of gyms, toured them or heard of them in a positive and/or negative light. Ask your employees for feedback. What facilities or clubs have they had positive and negative experiences with in the recent past? Are there any trends in their recommendations (chain, small, pool/no pool, family options)? What did they use most within clubs when they’ve been a member?
  2. Safety – Take a good look during your tour of the facility. Is the equipment in good condition with all pieces working and is the locker room clean and secure? Locker rooms can be good places for theft to occur – what security does the club have in place for locker burglary? Is the facility staffed appropriately? Are there AED(s) and CPR/AED certified professionals at the facility during all facility hours?
  3. Accessibility – It may be a great deal on the monthly rate but if the hours and proximity to the office or homes of your employees are unattractive, it won’t be used. Nothing worse than a great deal at a club that is the wrong fit for schedules and distances. Do you have employees that travel a great deal? See if they can use affiliated clubs outside of their primary state of residence. Even if it’s a smaller, one location gym, they may belong to an organization that is a network of gyms that provide ‘away’ privileges at out of state facilities.
  4. Qualifications of the Instructors/Trainers – the idea is for your employees to get healthier not injured so know who your employees will be entrusted to for their fitness routines. ACSM, NSCA, NASM and ACE are a few of the well respected organizations with rigorous certification exams for health and fitness professionals. Talk to some of the Trainers or Instructors that will be working with your employees. Are they employees of the gym or Independent Contractors?
  5. Programming – Some of your employees are die hard exercisers and would join a gym even without the discount. What about the group that isn’t? Help make them more comfortable by making sure that the environment and programming will appeal to all genders, ages, shapes and levels of exercise experience. Is there specific programming available for beginning exercisers or individuals with medical risks? Will their families be involved and if so, do you need a gym partner that has babysitting and family program options?
  6. Service With a Smile – Workouts are meant to be stress relievers not the source of stress. How well does the club do with responding to complaints in a timely manner and making members feel welcome as they enter the gym? Mistakes can happen and people can become upset, it’s unfortunate but it does happen. How comfortable are you with the club’s ability to resolve complaints and issues efficiently?
  7. Partnership –You’ve got specific reasons that you are interested in offering gym memberships to your workforce.   Will the club truly partner with you and support your corporate wellness initiatives? Will they provide onsite programming at your location or company specific workouts and seminars in their facility?
  8. Strike a deal – Gyms are so much more than weights and treadmills. Many have services included in the general membership and then additional fee based services. Personal Training, Massage Therapy, Snacks and Smoothies and some group exercise classes are often not included in the general membership fee.  Are they willing to do a special discount rate for fee based services and products not included in the membership rate specifically for your employees? Know exactly how much your employees will have to pay out of pocket for activation fees, specialized programming, the dues and add ins such as locker fees, parking fees.
  9. Outcomes – You’re in a tough spot trying to justify the expense of wellness in the workplace. You need information to provide to your team to show the value of the benefit internally. Is the club willing to monitor participation of employees and usage? Do they offer any initial health and fitness screenings of employees and aggregate data to show measurable outcomes in the future? Baselines can be established and monitored in a number of ways including number of club entries, program participation and health screening improvements so check and see if they have a mechanism in place to do this or are willing to create one for data collection.
  10. Breaking up is Hard to Do – Sad but true, breaking up is hard to do (humming the song), but what is your liability if things aren’t working out? What happens if employees leave your company?  What is the communication cycle on membership cancellations for current and former employees? Make sure you know all of the fine print of the contract you and/or your employees will be signing to thwart potential issues when employees leave your company or just leave the gym.

Keep these tips in mind as you make important decisions about how you and your employees can make the most out of your Corporate Gym Membership. Don’t be shy about asking questions about what they can offer you as a partner in improving your employees’ health so you can make the most informed decision about which partner to choose!

About The Author

Holly Iftner is the Sr. Director of Global Operations for HealthierCompany, a Best of E-Health Award winning, global employee health risk and corporate wellness firm. Since the mid 90s, Holly has been involved in the innovation of new health initiatives and programming that positively impacts corporate and community health. She has appeared on local TV affiliates of FOX, CBS and NBC, ESPN radio and a variety of newspaper articles. Her career includes over a decade of experience as a successful health and wellness Entrepreneur during which time she owned a successful wellness facility and founded a nonprofit organization focused on childhood obesity and family fitness. Her 15 year background includes US and International health and wellness appraisal and program design and she is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health and Fitness Specialist. Holly is a member of the International Association of Worksite Health Promotion and is on the International Board of Advisors for the Medical Wellness Association. In 2010, she was a Making Connections Session Leader for the 20th Annual Art and Science of Health Promotion.  In her spare time she is an avid runner and is a marathon coach for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and IronMommies in Atlanta.  To find out more about HealthierCompany and Holly Iftner, please visit  www.healthiercompany.com or contact Holly at holly@healthiercompany.com

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