Noticed this poster inside the trial room at Shopper's Stop the other day. Pretty clever, I thought.
I mean there you are, trying on a bunch of clothes. Half of them are guaranteed to look awful on you and naturally, as you struggle to get out of a too-tight t shirt, you will glance at yourself in the mirror and say to yourself, "I really need to lose weight".
Let's face it, women never like the size of their bodies. If we're L, we'll try on M. If we're M, we'll try S. And stores do not make it any easier by not having standard sizes in the first place.
It all depends on who their 'average' customer is. At Cottonworld, for instance I would buy an M, but at Globus I know it would not fit me.
So, getting back to the Golds Gym poster, if everyone wants to lose weight, how come gyms have to try so hard to woo us? Well the answer is, about 10% of the junta are dedicated to the idea of working out and keeping fit. Simply because they enjoy doing it.
The rest of us wish we could have great bodies and better health but you know what, joining a gym is just too much hard work. So naturally, we find a dozen excuses to wriggle out of it.
Now what the gym owner wants is to somehow make you suspend your disbelief. He wants you to believe, for a few moments, that you can do it. That you must do it. And in that window of opportunity he gets you to fork out several thousand as an annual membership fee.
But will you be happier the next time you're in the Shopper's Stop trial room? Like I said, joining a gym is never a guarantee for actually visiting it regularly. I should know.
Forking out vs working out
Four years ago, I joined a gym. The first year, I was reasonably committed. Worked out 3-4 times a week, lost a lot of weight. And I actually enjoyed the experience.
Year over, I was not sure if I wanted to renew my membership. The gym had become a bore. And I felt I had made enough 'lifestyle changes' to ensure I kept the weight off.
They kept calling, bugging, offered a discount. So guess what, I got for a 4 year membership for the price of two years.
Unfortunately, this deal did not do much for my fitness. Divided over 4 years, the monthly cost of my membership plummeted. I felt less guilty about 'wasting' it. Now I show up there barely once a week. On good weeks!
Gym owners pretty well know this. The trick to being profitable is to enrol more and more folks like me! I'm sure if all of the members actually turned up every morning and evening, the situation would be no different from rush hour at Churchgate!
So what am I saying? The same thing Professor Christopher Hsee of The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business recently observed:
Choose an expensive gym and pay a hefty non-refundable membership fee. Then you have the gym remind you every week how much you have paid and how little you have used. Thus, you will persuade yourself to go to the gym even when you are quite reluctant, for you have already paid!
Of course, the influence of the sunk cost will be diluted gradually as time goes by. So you'd better not pay a lump sum of five-year fee in advance, but rather pay monthly or twice a year.
Hsee's article is actually about 'sunk cost fallacy'
... There are many cases where more investments are made in the hope that the sunk cost could be recovered and these decisions only lead to more losses... The only reason for such a persistence is the mere fact that they have spent a large sum of money on it (sunk cost).
...Sunk Cost Fallacy" can be found everywhere in our life, exerting negative influences, but sometimes functioning as check-and-balance. If we know how to play with it smartly, it will be able to serve us.
The gym membership is a fine example of a sunk cost used in a positive manner. Here's another tip: throw away all your old clothes once you lose weight.
That way you have no 'options'. And the sunk cost of the new wardrobe (along with the high of looking and feeling good) helps you stay on track.
I know that worked for me.
I will never be size S but that's OK. I'd rather eat without running a calculator calorie in my head at all times.
Cocaine I have never done, but do not underestimate the power of chocolate!