A Gym Where It Costs You to Skip a Workout

A lot of people who join gyms or health clubs find it very easy to stop going. Gym-Pact, a new program in Boston, aims to change that. “Gym-Pact offers what [co-founder Yifan] Zhang calls motivational fees: customers agree to pay more if they miss their scheduled workouts, literally buying into a financial penalty if they don’t stick to their fitness plans,” explains Susan Johnston of The Boston Globe. “The concept arose from Zhang’s behavioral economics class at Harvard, where professor Sendhil Mullainathan taught that people are more motivated by immediate consequences than by future possibilities.” Gym-Pact launched a small pilot program last fall at Bally Total Fitness in Boston, and expanded its program at two Planet Fitness gyms in Boston in 2011. Currently, participants are fined $25 if they fail to follow the schedule in any given week, but Gym-Pact’s founders are still refining their model. “Zhang and [Geoff] Oberhofer plan to tweak the fee structure to allow it to be customized to a customer’s goals. Future iterations may include a combination of discounted gym memberships and smaller penalties that apply daily rather than weekly.” (HT: Marginal Revolution) [%comments]


I agree with Ian. Instead of having such a large penalty ($25) each time you skip, I feel as though they should reward the not so eager athlete for going. This would keep memebership sign up rates steady and perhaps more. Yet, they are deterring these people from signing up in the first place because everyone knows that there are some days that are just not condusive to fit a gym session in.
So I purpose they put money towards the base rate of the membership per month each time they go. Instead of paying $70 at a BSC I could be paying in the $50 range! SOUNDS GOOD TO ME! TAKE NOTES!


@ Bill

If you pay $10 dollars per visit and the average gym-goer goes 4.3 times per week that is looking at a cost of $2064 per year. Where if you pay the $70 flat rate you could go 16 times per month and be paying around $4 per visit at the rate of going 4.3 times per week.
I would agree paying per visit would work based on a memebership of $70 IF the person went fewer times than 7 visits per month.


It's a good idea, just not for everyone. For those who have the money and need the motivation, it can be a great incentive to keep going to the gym. However, for those whose schedules aren't very solid, a regular membership would be better. The gym gets money either way anyway.


one of the biggest reasons people are obese is because they dont have the confidence to workout and begin losing hope. but if you didnt have to pay so much for a gym or trainer would you be more intrested in working out? with americas obesity persentage rate at a deathly 35% we need something more. what if gyms could only charge you your month to month bill based on the percentage of body fat you currently have. like... what if somebody that has 35% body fat on them and they only paid 65% of the bill. but if you are under 20% you pay full price. and if your over 50% you get in the gym free.


Just downloaded the app last week and finished my first "pact" today. I thought it was great. Not only did I actually go to the gym -maybe I'll get a few bucks at the end of all this!

I read a lot of negative reactions on here and on the NYT article and I just don't get it. The hardest part for me is getting to the gym. Not working out. In fact, i don't know anyone who would go to the gym and sit around or just hang out without working out for at least 30 minutes.

And to the woman worried about the app not catering to parents and caregivers - get a life! Most gyms have daycare and most caregivers get at least one day a week off!