|by Mr Credit Card|
American Express Gold, Platinum or Centurion card holders can get discounts at Equinox gym memberships. This is a lesser know perk of Amex. In this article, we will look at the Equinox benefits of the different cards and compare them to the usual discounts given to non cardholders.
I will also be sharing my experiences of joining a gym last year so that you can make a more informed decision as to whether to join a gym or not.
Complimentary Benefits Without Amex Cards
Before we look at the equinox benefits you would get if you were an Amex charge card holder, let us examine the offers that Equinox is presently giving (January 2012) to new members who sign up. If you sign up for their membership, you will get a free fitness evaluation (which is a standard practice for most gyms), one personal training session (also very standard), two one-week guest passes and 10% off any spa services.
If you have the American Express Gold Card or the Premier Rewards Gold Card, you will be able to get “special membership pricing”. That would be a discount, though it is not stated on their website what the discount or special pricing was. You will get one one-week guest pass (which is less than the regular offer), and a 15% discount off a single spa service and a 15% discount off a one-time purchase at their THE SHOP store. I was not able to find out if these benefits were in addition to the ones offered to regular new members. If it was, then you would get an extra training session. The best benefit would be the special pricing for the first year’s membership. So there is some savings there to be made.
American Express Platinum Card holders have a higher level of award than gold members. Not only do you get “special pricing”, but you also get four free training sessions. You also get one 50 signature massage or facial. In addition, you will get “benefits” throughout the year ( I would assume that it will be discounts for classes and products). To figure out the value of this, we have to find out the price of their training sessions. I called up a couple of their gyms and what I found out was that different locations have different prices. Their personal trainers are also classified into various tiers, 1, 2, 3 and 4. Tier 4 are the most experienced trainers who have gone through more training and they charge a higher price. What made it more confusing was that the prices also vary depending on the package that you buy. For example, you would get a cheaper per session rate if you bought 48 training packs version buying 24 training packs. From the conversations that I had with their sales representatives, the prices range from $80 to $120 a session.
So since Platinum card holders get two additional training sessions, that is worth about $200 “on average”. The free spa treatment is worth probably about $100. So for the first year, Platinum card members get about $300 worth in value (note: my Philadelphia sports club gym which I am a member gave me four free training session when I joined. Hence, we can argue that perhaps having four complimentary sessions is no big deal. I will leave that judgement to you).
What is more important about Platinum card members who join the gym is that you get additional annual benefits as well. If you buy a 6 session personal training program, you get two additional sessions for free. That is worth about $100 “on average”. If you buy a 12 session package, you get 4 additional sessions. That is worth about $400. If you buy a 24 session package, you will get 6 additional sessions, which is worth about $600. And if you buy the 48 session package, you will get 12 additional sessions, which is worth about $1200.
You will also get 2 coupons that will save you some money if you buy stuff from their “THE SHOP”.
Centurion card members get all the benefits of Platinum card members. In addition, you will get two free massages when you buy a 10 massage pack.
Beware of the Beginning Of Year Resolution – Especially Fitness! – Gyms make most of their money in the beginning of the year. That is because most of us make a new year’s resolution to lose weight, but never follow through. Mrs Credit Card and myself joined the Philadelphia Sports Club last year because Mrs Credit Card tore her ACL in her knee while we were skiing in Colorado the previous year. So we both signed up for the personal training pack (48 sessions I think).
This is what I liked about the personal training pack. It forces you to work out because you have to see your trainer and you get fit very fast. However, you need to buy enough sessions to make it worthwhile. What I did was to work out once a week with my trainer and twice a week myself to make sure I improved my fitness and strength and be better prepared to work out with him the next time.
However, I feel that to make the best progress, you have to train with a trainer twice a week. That way, you really improve very fast. If you do not buy enough training sessions, what ends up happening is that you will train either once a week or once in two weeks with your trainer. But unless you are disciplined, your progress will be slow.
Towards the end of the year, I started doing yoga and pilates and I love it (I can now touch my toes).
So if you do decide to sign up for a gym membership, I would suggest signing up for bulk personal training sessions in advance (unless you are the type who are really disciplined or if you know you would go for their classes consistently). Otherwise, you will most likely be throwing money down the drain.
If there is an Equinox gym near you and you have either the Amex Gold, Amex Platinum or Centurion card, then it pays to at least check it out. If you plan to sign on a fair bit of personal training sessions, then you could actually save quite a bit of money (more than the Platinum annual fee in some cases).
And if you do not have any of these cards, the Citi Dividend Card pays 5% rebates for gym memberships during the first quarter. If you have this card, then use it to get what is effectively a 5% discount.