Frowzy cheap weights room with bad ventilation and old equipment or super expensive fitness-centers, unavailable for mainstream population - this is how the marker of sport services appeared in Ukraine before mid-2000s. Now the picture is different. Players of the sport market have directed their eyes to common people and now try to attract as many clients as possible with various gift vouchers, discounts for annual subscriptions, endless advertisement on radio and printed media.
Selling sport services is now beneficial and profitable. First of all, the vogue for healthy lifestyle overtakes more and more Ukrainians. Secondly, tired of crisis people no longer want to economize on themselves. Thus, according to the data of one of personnel portal, almost half of office workers do sports at least twice per week. Men go to gyms following their passion to certain kinds of sports, women go to relax and lose weight. However, the main reason of mass gym-going is financial: the net of fitness centers becomes wider and in order to attract more clients owners set available prices for sport services.
Count money

Traditionally, fitness centers are divided into very expensive (luxury, premium-class), mid-range segment clubs and economy class. Economy class centers are located in every residential area and provide only the most popular services - shaping hall and weight-lifting machines. Fitness centers of middle class usually have pools, solarium, massage. Premium clubs work for VIP clients and offer a wide range of services, including spa, hairdressing service, aromatherapy, sauna, lounge zones.
"There are two types of fitness system in the world - English one, which has only expensive and cheap clubs, and American system, which has cheap, middle level and luxury centers. Originally, Ukraine used the English model, and fitness centers were considered an expensive and fashionable amusement. But for the last years, the mid-range segment has been developing in our country, meaning there are chain clubs, which offer the same services as in premium class centers but with lower cost of membership," vice president of the Kyiv fitness union and organizer of All-Ukrainian fitness forum Vladyslav Vavilov says.  
According to him, the crisis has forced gyms to lower prices for sport services. "If earlier the membership card in a luxury club cost, let's say, five thousand dollars per year, now the price dropped to three or two and a half thousand dollars. Moreover, former clients of premium clubs have turned to the cheaper segment. The matter is that due to the crisis people, including rich ones, have learned to count and spare. The majority of chain clubs have the same weight-lifting machines and pools, but they cost not 40 thousand hryvnias per year, but 15-18 thousand. Even though there are way more visitors in such clubs, rich clients are ready to tolerate for the sake of economy," Vavilov notes.
According to his calculations, there are about 250-300 units of fitness industry working in Kyiv - clubs, studios, centers, and 50 out of the total are of premium class. However, the future belongs to small clubs, Vavilov believes. "A client can come downstairs in slippers and enter his club, he does not need to go anywhere.  This sector is developing really fast, as the market of chain clubs is surfeited," he underlines.
Price policy of economy class clubs also makes them popular - membership costs from 200 to 600 hryvnias monthly. It's not difficult to calculate that annual membership will cost 2.5 - 7 thousand hryvnias, almost as in a chain club. However, monthly payment policy is convenient for clients who cannot pay at once the annual cost or are not sure they will keep going after two months.
The majority of mid-range segment clubs provide annual membership, costing from 2 to 20 thousand hryvnias. There are so many such clubs in Kyiv that it is not a problem to choose a suitable one. The only difference is that the cheaper the club the more crowded it is during training.
Not always honest sport

With the increase of the number of fitness clubs, there is unhealthy desire to increase the number of clients at any cost. As a result, clients become victims of frauds and misinformation. Among the most common complains there is overcrowding. It happens that a club announces discounts, but does not control the number of comers. As a result, there are not enough lockers for all comers and people have to stay in line to use this or that machine. However, this is the problem mostly of small clubs, while thefts happen in all clubs of all types.
According to the legislation, administration of a club cannot be held responsible for thefts. "There are cases when in the most expensive clubs the chief executives of the state get robbed," Vladyslav Vavilov says.
Another sore spot of the fitness industry is its trainers. "Our educational institutions do not train such specialists, and the old soviet system does not meet modern demands. Thus, the majority of fitness clubs are ready to teach anybody. As a result, there are cases when trainers hurt their clients," Vavilov complains. He recommends to learn about qualification and experience of the trainer of interest before following his program. "A nice looking guy is not always a good trainer," he reminds. Journalist Kateryna, 23, shares his views. Hoping to lose weight, she asked her trainer to work out a training program and a diet. The trainer told her to exclude protein and focus on weight lifting. As a result, the girl started to suffer dizziness, and only urgent return to normal nutrition saved her from the hospital.
Register your relationships

Last year, manager Iryna was lucky to buy an annual membership in a new fitness club at a discount price. There was only one 'but' - the fitness center was not finished, but the client was assured she would have to wait for a month maximum. After half a year, the club finally opened its doors for Iryna and a dozen of other ingenuous 'sportsmen', who had been trying to get back their money for months.

Such cases are not rare - people want to spare and clubs want to earn. Potential clients often do not read what they sign or do not sign any contracts hoping for honesty of the club administration. However, in order to avoid any conflicts, it is better to register relations with clubs officially and read carefully the contract. Iryna, for example, did not pay attention to the fact that the club contract did not stipulate for the date of opening. One of the famous chain clubs has such contracts that it is impossible to get back money even in case of force majeur situation. There was series of legal proceedings, but clients could not get their money back even through courts.
Thus, before taking care of your figure and muscles, take care about safety of the paid money, learn about the history of a club of interest and talk to regular customers. Don't be afraid to lay claims to the administration, as you are a customer, who is always right.

Alina Yeremeyeva


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