Last updated on November 17th, 2022 at 04:18 pm
The fact that gyms need a bank account may be of concern to you.
By this I mean that most of us typically only ever need to give our bank details to our employer and the tax man.
So, it probably seems somewhat weird that paying for a gym membership requires you to hand over your sort code (routing number) and bank account number.
However, there are potential advantages for both you and your gym by paying for your membership through electronic funds transfer.
With that being said, there is a potential disadvantage to you as well.
So, allow me to explain your gym’s need for a bank account in more detail.
Why Do Gyms Need a Bank Account?
The main reason that gyms need a bank account is for the ease of billing. Your sort code and account number (routing and bank account number) will never expire. However, as debit and credit cards have an expiration date, this will require your gym to obtain your new information to continue your membership once the card expires. Additionally, electronic funds transfer from a bank account is encrypted which makes it more difficult for hackers to access.
Ease of Billing
So, the number one reason that gyms require your bank account is to make billing easier for both you and them.
Basically, once you’ve provided your bank account details your gym can set up a direct debit or electronic funds transfer (depending on what side of the Atlantic you’re on).
This means that your payment is permanently set up until you choose to cancel your membership.
Unfortunately, if payment is taken via a debit or credit card then your new details will be required once the card expires.
And this is the thing about your bank account, your routing number and bank account number never expire, and will always remain the same.
So, there isn’t the hassle of suddenly discovering that your gym membership has lapsed due to an expired card.
There was a time when you’d have to pay for each individual gym session, or pay a monthly fee upfront.
However, this would involve a gym employee having to take a payment every time someone enters the gym.
Obviously, this involves additional time and expense.
So, rather than strolling straight into the gym you may be greeted by a queue while the gym employee takes individual payments from everyone.
Additionally, this would require additional training of staff to involve money handling and payment processing.
Okay, I’ll admit that this isn’t exactly rocket science, but it still costs the gym more money.
And more expenses for the gym will typically mean a more expensive membership for you.
The Downside to “Ease of Billing”
Something else to consider is that once a payment is set up via your bank account, it will remain in place until you choose to cancel.
With that being said, gyms have garnered a reputation for being notoriously difficult to cancel a membership.
In fact, it is estimated that approximately 67% of people have a gym membership and yet never actually set foot into the gym.
So, in effect, people paying memberships and NOT using the facilities is every single gym’s main source of income.
The vast majority of gym non-attendees often forget they have a payment set up.
Therefore, it could be months or even years before someone decides to cancel their membership.
However, during this time the gym has earned lots of additional revenue.
If I’m completely honest, most gyms rely on the fact that the vast majority of paid memberships are never used.
If you think about it, gyms will take on excessive membership numbers, as they know that not everyone will turn up at the same time.
So, a gym could have 1,000 members, but only has the capacity to have 100 people in at any one time.
Plus, this is then made even easier when people no longer attend the gym (think about the diedown after the January rush every year).
And yet, your gym is still making an income from people not turning up.
We may not like it, but it makes good business sense for the gym.
Regular Gym Payments May Be Less Expensive
I will admit that this isn’t always the case, but in the main a regular payment made through your bank account will be the cheapest way to afford your gym membership.
I know that the influx of “Pay as You Play”, “Pay as You Go”, and “Pay as You Gym” is all the rage now.
Basically, you have the ability to book a one-off day pass, a weekly pass, and even monthly memberships.
All of these gym passes can typically be booked online, and many only require a debit or credit card.
This is a great idea if you aren’t tied to one particular gym chain, but would like the ability to workout no matter where you are.
I know many of you may work on the road, so you don’t know where you may be one day to the next.
So, having access to a gym pretty much anywhere in the country will make your life a lot easier.
In effect, some days you may workout, other days you may not, but you’re not tied to a regular gym membership payment.
This all sounds great in principle, but it can work out to be a lot more expensive, especially if you use the gym regularly.
A one-day pass for a pay as you go gym could effectively cost the same as 7-10 days of “normal” paid gym membership.
Additionally, pay as you go monthly gym memberships initially look inexpensive and as though they’re a great deal.
However, they generally involve being tied into a contract, plus your initial monthly payment may only last for the first 3-6 months.
The price will then usually increase significantly, but you’re now tied into a contract for at least a few more months.
All-in-all, if you’re a regular gym-goer, having a monthly contract paid for via your bank account will generally be the cheapest option.
Bank Account Payments Offer Additional Security
The final reason that most gyms will need a bank account is for security reasons.
Basically, paying by direct debit or electronic funds transfer from a current/checking account offers the safest way to regularly transfer money.
Firstly, all gyms will have software that has been created for their specific needs.
In fact, there are a plethora of different types of gym management software.
Now, many of these types of software will include encrypted information which literally hides financial details.
However, the system has been set up in a way that it can only deal with regular transactions, such as a monthly membership.
Unfortunately, paying for a gym session or entire membership via a debit or credit card doesn’t offer the same type of encryption security.
And due to the world we live in, hackers are rife at managing to secure card payment details.
The reason for this is that there is no encryption software required for one-off payments.
Furthermore, a regular monthly membership payment made via your bank account will mean that the payment always has to be processed through your bank.
This actually makes it easier to catch any fraudulent activity.
$20 Per Month Gym vs. $300 Per Month Gym
So, I hope you understand there are numerous reasons why gyms need a bank account.
However, the most obvious of these is that it is easier for both you and the gym in terms of billing.
In effect, it is a set-and-forget type of billing, as your bank account details are unlikely to ever change.
The main issue with taking memberships via a debit or credit card is that cards will eventually expire, and therefore the gym will require your new details.
But, this obviously makes it easier for gyms to take money even when a member pays, but never attends.
In fact, people who don’t go to the gym and still pay a membership account for approximately 67% of all gym-goers.
So, in effect, this is a gym’s main source of income.
Furthermore, paying a gym membership via your bank account will generally be the cheapest option, plus it offers peace of mind in terms of financial security.
While I’m on the subject of gyms and what they do, discover what I have to say about gyms playing music so loud.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.