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Trying Out Fitness First (And Comparing it With Gold’s Gym)

9:44 pm PHT

I recently got a complimentary workout at Fitness First Eastwood and availed of it last Tuesday. I’ve never worked out at Fitness First before and I wanted to try it. My current gym is Gold’s Gym (I decided to get a membership after trying it out last year) and I was curious about the differences between these two popular fitness franchises.

Note that my observations are based on my experiences at Gold’s Gym Galleria, Gold’s Gym Glorietta, and the single workout at Fitness First Eastwood. I certainly won’t try to generalize for all Fitness First branches.

First up are the nice services FF has that Gold’s Gym doesn’t. FF offers its members free VCD rentals (1 disc per two weeks, I think), and has a refreshments counter where you can drink up on free juices, iced teas, and coffees. A really good service they have are the free treatment sessions (i.e., massage). As far as I know, Gold’s doesn’t offer this for free to its members.

Both Gold’s and FF offer the standard steam and sauna rooms, group classes, and power cycling rooms, though it seems that FF has more classes, which are really popular among its members.

The real downside to FF is that they don’t offer towel services. This is one thing that I’d come to really like from Gold’s Gym. I don’t want to be bringing bulky towels everytime I work out, and I dislike bundling wet towels in my bag after a gym visit. I knew this beforehand so I was fairly sure that I won’t be switching to FF anytime in the foreseeable future.

In addition, I already got a really, really good deal from Gold’s Gym. I only paid 31,000 pesos for my lifetime membership, got 19 initial months without monthly dues, and only pay 900 pesos every month thereafter. The membership includes an unlimited number of sessions and I can practically visit any Gold’s Gym branch in the country (good thing that the Alabang branch finally opened recently).

Fitness First is, however, a really popular brand. People enroll in FF because they have many more branches, has better services than Slimmer’s World, and probably because they feel Gold’s Gym is too expensive. I can safely say that unless you have company discount promos from FF, you’re probably better off with the packages of Gold’s Gym.

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On 7:27 a.m., 19 Jan 2008, Mrs. B wrote:

And this is our negative experience at Fitness First. I will share with everyone I know and everyone who will listen so that they do not make the same mistake of doing business with Fitness First Philippines. Our email below only terminated the account, but did not resolve the major issue of our wedding money being returned.

January 18, 2008

Mr. & Mrs. B

To: The Management Team of Fitness First

This letter is to inform you of the unfair practice that we have experienced during our sign-up for a 3-month membership at the SM Fairview Fitness First location. We were approached while shopping inside the mall on September 28, 2007 by one of your sales team, Ms. Jackie Gaw (who by the way is no longer employed by your company according to the manager, Ms. Nia Gutierrez). We informed Ms. Jackie Gaw that we are only balikbayans who plan to stay in the Philippines until after our wedding in January 2008. She then continued that there is a 3-month membership available that would be perfect for the both of us which would include the months of October, November, and December. Ms. Jackie Gaw was adamant on our sign-up on that very day because it was the last day of your anniversary special which reduced the membership fee that took care of the first month. We were very clear in agreement that the charges will only be until December since our budget for the January 2008 wedding has been set. The fine print on the contract was not discussed in great detail since we trusted Ms. Jackie Gaw’s word of assurance that everything will work out very well. I must admit that the whole sign-up process was quick and easy and Ms. Jackie Gaw was very pleasant. We were also eager to become members because we saw for ourselves the great facility and we heard positive comments prior to our sign-up about the equipment from our next door neighbors who are also members of your establishment.

It would have been ideal to have used our membership for more than 5 times within those 3 months. It would also have been ideal to have completely used the rest of the power packs, free passes for family and friends, and the coupons for the massages. Unfortunately, our schedule prior to the wedding became very busy for us to take advantage of the P15,020 total paid for the months of October-December. And for that, we both take full and complete responsibility. Our lack of use of the facility if broken down cost us P1,502 per person for each use. We later found out that it would only have cost us P550 per person for each use if we did not sign up for a membership. But again, that is completely our fault. In that respect, your company has already made approximately a 200% profit. What we do not agree with is the P11,320 which is approximately equivalent to $276.00 US dollars that was charged in January 2008. This very unexpected charge from your company caused us a great deal of added stress for our wedding and wedding celebration. This also added a great deal of embarrassment when we checked in ourselves and our guests into a prominent hotel in Ortigas only to be told that the credit card is being declined. We specifically opened up the funds for that account to be used only for our wedding. We tried contacting the proper people at the SM Fairview Fitness First again to sort out the issue and were told twice that a manager will contact us. And when we did not receive a phone call from anybody, we went to the location and were told that the manager was not there and that we will receive a call. The receptionist was kind enough to schedule us an appointment with the manager to resolve the issue. We did receive a call from Ms. Nia Gutierrez in the middle of our wedding reception. Needless to say, we were unable to resolve the matter right there and then. Unfortunately, our meeting with Ms. Nia Gutierrez on January 16, 2008 did not resolve the issue. Ms. Nia Gutierrez was very pleasant and understanding but was unable to help us out with the P11,320 that we need back into our account as well as the immediate cancellation of the memberships as of January 2008 to stop any future payments.

We are writing this letter in very high hopes that the management team of Fitness First will take responsibility for the actions of their employees. The lack of explanation just to make a sale does not promote a long term relationship with customers. Neither will it leave a positive lasting impression for us balikbayans regarding supposedly trustworthy companies such as yours. We have done our part in taking responsibility for paying a total of P15,020 for the months of October-December. Please do your part in returning our wedding funds in the amount of P11,320 as well as the termination of our accounts as of January 2008 without any future balances. Your company probably spends thousands more for media advertising in comparison to our wedding money that we are pleading for. But we all know that there is nothing more effective than the advertising from real customers by word of mouth. We hope to not go home to Seattle , WA with this negative Fitness First experience to share with our family and friends both here in the Philippines and the U.S. Please be fair and help us spin this into a positive situation and return our wedding funds that we both worked and saved very hard for.

We thank you in advance for your time in reading our letter as well as resolving this issue quickly and fairly.

Sincerely,

Mr. & Mrs. B

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On 8:22 a.m., 9 Apr 2008, PatrickM wrote:

I read you do not like bringing your own towel to the gym. You should try the Platinum branches of Fitness First (Trinoma and RCBC Plaza Makati) because they offer bath and face towels everytime you visit. Also, the Fitness First RCBC branch is the only franchise gym that has a jacuzzi and lap pool in the Philippines.  :)

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On 5:45 p.m., 18 Apr 2008, seav wrote:

@PatrickM, so I have to pay more (Platinum) just to get towels? No thanks.  :p The jacuzzi and lap pool looks interesting, though.

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On 7:59 p.m., 22 Jul 2008, donna advincula wrote:

I agree with you guys I used to be a member of FF RCBC and they indeed give hand and bath towels tho not necessarily something to be envied about by other non RCBC members because the quality of towels is one I habitually complained everytime I visit for a weekend workout.

I joined them back in 2002 when it is still called The SPA at RCBC. The management then was okay until it was acquired by a team of Australian guys from Fitness First International. Being a corporate and pioneering members we are allowed to settle in cash or in cheque. However due to demand at work I travel frequently but i still end up being asked for my monthly fees. Paying the Php2750 + charges is fine with me and since I intend to keep my lifetime membership with them. The only thing that annoyed me is when I was assigned overseas and I emailed the branch manager about my desire to freeze (not to terminate) my membership monthly dues for I won’t be using the facilities for the next 6 months. I was told that is fine adn t hey would like to serve me when I’m back. After 7 months, I resurfaced to work-out and I was told by the people at the reception that I need to pay 40% of my monthly duees x 7 mos for freezing my membership dues. Since I earned enough for my trip—I dutifully paid.

During the last 2006 I had financial difficulty and had an injury from working out (back problem from a bad fall in the gym) I have to freeze again my account. I wasnt able to go back for a year and when I return they were charging me again with a 40% of my total 12 month dues. I try to appeal for a reconsideration considering I informed them prior. Being fined is fine but to pay again for a 40% or almost half of your monthly dues, i realized is way too much!!!

By the way as a loyal patron and friend (?) of the sales manager I recruited dozen of members without getting anything in return, just a goodwill. Now they dont wan’t to get me in if I dont pay the 40% per month fine and I have to pay in credit card or issue 18 Post Dated Cheques (18 PDCs )!!!!!!

I don’t think we should tolerate this MGA DAYUHAN WHO IS MILKING US FILIPINOS DRY! fine we can choose FOR any gym out there, BUT THIS IS A WAKEUP CALL FOR THE FITNESS FRIST MANAGEMENT SPECIALLY THE ECONOMIC CONDITION WE WORKERS ARE INTO. I certainly thought that you guys are committed to provide healthy lifestyle to us Filipinos but YOU ARE NOT BECAUSE YOU ARE MAKING MY BLOOD PRESSURE RISE WITH YOUR BROAD DAYLIGHT HOLDING UP PRACTICE.

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On 5:31 p.m., 6 Aug 2008, Sarah wrote:

I’m so torn between ff and Gold’s!

With ff, with 2,5 a month I can go and work out even everyday. Pero iba-ibang membership consultant nakakausap ko, iba iba ring amount ang binibigay sa akin for start-up costs! ang gulo-gulo diba? others would say 4k, 5k, 6k. Also others would say I can pay thru PDC, sabi naman ng iba Credit card lang. Yun nga lang dami nilang perks and programs and free drinks.

With Gold’s ( I just called them ) the girl was really nice and not as pushy as the people from ff. She guaranteed na they never had credit card issues, and I can pay with cash or check. With annual I just have to pay one time 14,5 (96 visits) and she will extend it daw up to 120 visits. For 6mos, 5,5 (20visits) which I can extend anytime if I like.

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On 7:17 p.m., 12 Aug 2008, Iris wrote:

I used to be a member of Fitness First but I terminated my membership because of my busy schedule and change in lifestyle.

I found out months later that despite my having terminated the account, they had still been charging the monthly fees on my credit card. I only found out when my card was declined at a restaurant.

I never got my money back.

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On 10:11 a.m., 1 Sep 2008, TheBachelorGirl wrote:

I’m glad that you found a gym that you’re happy with. The main reason that I love Fitness First is because of the Les Mills classes, which are internationally recognized choreographed classes that ensure safety for different levels of fitness, while offering a fun way to work out.

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On 5:09 p.m., 21 Oct 2008, Fitz wrote:

There are rumors that Gold’s Gym is trying to get Les Mills to handle their group exercise classes. If ever this happens, there will be an exodus of members from Fitness First.

In any case, I’m seriously considering to switch gyms soon. FF has become too crowded really.

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