Norwich gyms slash membership fees in battle of the fittest
While many of us try to get in shape for summer there's a different battle going on at many of the city's gyms – over the monthly costs to be a member.
As many of us fight the flab, there's a battle for supremacy among the city's growing number of gyms and health clubs.
Gym 'wars' was sparked after the nationwide Pure Gym, which already has one club on Copenhagen Way in Norwich, is in the process of opening a new one in Castle Mall in the former Argos unit, for a monthly membership of £18.99 reduced to as low as £10.99.
The company, which now boasts more than 1m members nationwide, a new UK record for gym membership, saw 30 new gyms opening last year in the UK and revenue increase by 15% from the end of 2017 to the end of last year.
Jason Elves, who was manager at the Copenhagen Way gym and going to be managing the Castle Mall one, said: "We never know how long the £10.99 is going to last, but it is very cheap and really good for Norwich."
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Other gyms are slashing prices too. At Nuffield Health, Barrack Street, if you join by May 15, you pay nothing until June on memberships of 12 months. And at 24/7 Fitness, Riverside Retail park, this month there is no joining fee on a premium membership plan, saving you £20.
Brad Williams, who runs the '121 Gym' in Norwich, offering personal training, has expanded his business to offer fitness management in London, because he said there wasn't enough business locally.
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"What you have are the 24/7, super cheap gyms and the high end, more exclusive health clubs and nothing in between, the middle gyms are just being killed off. The cheap gyms just get so busy and there is a large turnover of staff but they're so cheap, it means those on the fringes who have set up their own gyms and charging, say £25 a month in an industrial unit, are really struggling.
"Few can compete with £10.99 a month because although you don't get a swimming pool, steam room and sauna for that, it is just the gym, if you only go once or twice a month it's still worth it whereas if you are paying £40-£50 a month, you really do need to go regularly to make it worth your while."
Simon Hill, who runs his own gym business Complete Fitness, Heigham Street, with membership for £33 a month, said: "The larger companies can buy equipment cheaper and have a legal team behind them so they probably get a better deal on their leases. However, they also get very busy and if you don't mind waiting around, that's fine. We have less members and more equipment but you do pay a premium for that, however you are assured of getting a dedicated service."
With fitness becoming big business, some of the large nationwide gyms are even offering franchise models enabling you to own your own such as Anytime Fitness, which now has 4200 clubs in 33 countries including two in Suffolk.
Meanwhile, a spokesman from David Lloyd on Drayton High Road, said: "We are a health club and we offer a completely different experience than just a gym. No prices are disclosed online or in print but you book a tour of our club and see what's on offer."
What's the cost of keeping fit?
Pure Gym, opening soon at Castle Mall - £18.99 monthly with offer of £10.99 plus £15 joining fee
Nuffield Health, Barrack Street - join by May 15 and pay nothing until June on 12 month commitments. Anytime access costs either £53 for 12 months or £62 a month for a rolling one month agreement.
24/7 Fitness, Riverside Retail Park - this month no joining fee on a premium membership plan, saving you £20; memberships from £21.95 a month
Bannatyne Health Club, Thorpe St Andrew and also Longwater Business Park, Costessey - full membership from £44.99 a month or off peak from £38.99 a month.
The Gym, Little London Street, also Hall Road - no contract, £18.99 a month.