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The other day I was at Briarwood mall, walking past Cinnabon, and I couldn’t help but overhear this conversation between three women in line.

The first woman said; “Man, I just got this great Groupon for Franks Fitness Frenzy, 2 full months for only $20, what a deal…I can’t wait to try it!!!”

“No, wait, you should hear about this Groupon I got for Suzy’s Starvation System, lose 50lbs in 50 days for only 50 dollars! – That’s a dollar per pound, can’t beat it,” retorted the second woman.


“Hold on ladies, wait until I tell you about the Groupon I got,” she said turning to the cashier. “Lemme get three large Cinnabons with a side of diabetes.” Without taking a breath she turned to her friends, “I got a Groupon to Lisa’s Little Legs, to elongate all the muscles in my legs…I think it’s Pi-Lots or something… 6 months for $6…what a deal!”

Ok, ok, maybe I’m exaggerating the conversation that I heard, but don’t miss my point – the Groupon Fitness craze needs to stop and stop soon!

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Groupon. I think they’ve built an incredible business model, and being a business owner myself, I am always impressed by great business models. I’ll use the word Groupon in this article, since it’s easy for us to identify with, but please feel free to substitute the latest, greatest fitness deal.

So if my issue isn’t with Groupon, where is it? Two places, one-with my so-called contemporaries, whose businesses offer these Groupons in the hopes of attracting more clients, and two- with the people who purchase these Groupons thinking that just because an exercise program is cheap, it will help get them in shape.

Before we get to that, let me make one thing abundantly clear, AFS will never offer Groupons. We won’t ever have sales, or buy-one-get-one offers. “Why?” You ask…Because real professionals with a valuable service to provide don’t discount their service.

Does your doctor offer you a “buy one heart-bypass get a colonoscopy for free?” How about your attorney? “Tell you what, I’ll give you 50% off the next divorce I settle for you!” You wouldn’t think of going to these people in a million years. You’d think, “How unprofessional!” It’s no different in fitness, if you have a valuable service to offer you don’t have to sell it on price (or discount), it sells itself based on the abundant benefits the consumer gets out of it!

Ok, now back to some of my colleagues (using that term loosely here). Shame on these so-called “fitness professionals” for preying on the masses, desperate to get in shape! Do these people really think the best way to motivate someone to exercise, lose weight, or tone up is to offer them the “deal of the century?” As if all of the sudden, magically, just because a gym membership is cheaper or you can get a 12 class punch card for $2.50, someone is going to be motivated to make a major lifestyle change! For what? Saving 25 dollars! Come on!! I don’t have the time or the tolerance for that, and neither should you.

Only two types of fitness (un)professionals give you this type of offer. Type one is someone who doesn’t know the first thing about behavior change, exercise psychology, or motivation. Indeed, this type of person is either too uneducated to understand these critical aspects of a successful exercise program or they’re completely disconnected from the population they’re trying to work with. Either way, don’t waste your time! If they don’t get this, they certainly won’t help you reach your goals because there’s a bunch of other critical programmatic matters they’re too uneducated to get as well. I guess that’s what you get for taking a weekend workshop, mailing in a test, and calling yourself fitness professional.

The second type of person I have a little more contempt for than the first. Not that ignorance or stupidity is an excuse for anything, but at least it’s a reason, and there’s no true malice behind it. With person two, this isn’t the case. This person is the business/fitness professional, the person with a great business mind, who knows nothing about fitness, but does know how to drive the bottom-line. It’s this person who realizes the non-committal nature of people who buy an exercise plan just because of “the deal.” It’s this person who understands all too well the statistic that over 75% of the people who purchase one of these great deals will only use it once. It’s this person who realizes it’s the perfect business model. Charge people a discounted rate to get them to buy, know that most of them won’t utilize it, and bang! – All that money right to the bottom line! How do you think these training facilities can offer such a great deal in the first place? Since barely anyone uses what they’ve paid for, it MORE than makes up for the small percentage of people who do. Business driving fitness is one of the things that continually gets our industry in trouble, yet no one ever seems to learn to stay away from these snake oil salesmen.

It takes two to tango in this dance, and as I alluded to earlier, the people who buy these Groupons do bear some responsibility here. I think the people who purchase these Groupons (one or several) greatly misunderstand the concept of VALUE. People throw around the word “value” incorrectly all the time. Value has nothing to do with what you pay; it has everything to do with what you get in return. Something that is valuable fulfills every ounce of the promise made to you at time of purchase (and then some), and its true cost is irrelevant. When something has no real value to you, and doesn’t fulfill that promise; even 5 cents is too much money. People confuse this all the time. Just because something is cheap, doesn’t make it valuable, and things that are very expensive can be some of our most valuable purchases. Don’t be fooled by a great deal, whatever the deal is. The reality is the most valuable brands in the world don’t have to offer the “deal of century” because their product or service sells itself, regardless of the cost.

Remember the old saying you’ve heard time and time again, “you get what you pay for.” Bargain basement fitness deals exemplify this adage. You pay next to nothing, you get next to nothing, and you’re still left looking for a SOLUTION to get in shape. So next time you see that great deal for fitness in your inbox, start exercising your finger…by hitting delete!

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