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The Perfect Solution for Reluctant Exerciser: Pay-By-The-Minute Gyms

A new app lets non-members visit exclusive gyms when and where they want to. It could be the solution for failed New Year's fitness resolutions.

With New Year’s coming up, chances are you’ll make a resolution to be more fit. And, if you’re like 80 percent of Americans who do the same, you’ll likely whiff on your fitness goals by February. But a new pay-by-the-minute gym app might take the pressure off of full memberships, encouraging you to go the gym by making it convenient to find time.

Called POPiN, the app partners with various high-end gyms to give users access without making them commit to a membership. Users pick from a selection of participating, premium membership-only health clubs, and only have to pay by the minute for the time they spend working out. So, rather than shell out for a month-long membership or a full day pass that someone might only use a fraction of, users can pay between 15 and 26 cents per minute of time that they’re actually at the gym.

The app seems to be a smart format for gaining access to exclusive health clubs where cost can be upwards of $200 per month. Not only can these fees be too expensive, but for people with busy and unpredictable schedules (like, you know, parents), committing to a full membership isn’t a worthwhile investment. A pay-by-the-minute format takes the pressure off by only charging for real gym usage. Plus, by partnering with high-end gyms, users can still get some perks of expensive memberships like jacuzzis and indoor basketball courts.

“We’re looking to create an environment that not only makes it more affordable, accessible, and convenient [to use gyms] but really enables people to fit fitness into their daily lives instead of having to structure their daily lives around that [fitness] schedule that they’re locked into,” POPiN COO and co-founder Austin Cohen told Fast Company.

Cohen and his co-founder say that POPiN’s pay-by-the-minute program isn’t meant to replace memberships, just present users more options. But whether the app succeeds or not, the format could be an effective way to make it more reasonable to get people exercising. Currently, only about half of Americans who pay for gym memberships go on a regular basis. With the average monthly membership cost being around $40, the infrequency of gym visits suggests that Americans are losing more money than they should on unfulfilled workouts.

Conflicting benefits and downsides of certain gym memberships likely play into these numbers. Often, the cheapest membership may be for a gym that’s far away, and closer gyms with more perks may be too expensive. The pay-by-the-minute model could be the best way to get users through the door by focusing on choice and convenience. Come February, we’ll see if it helps people stick to their resolutions.

POPiN is currently only available in New York City, but the company plans to expand to more metro areas in the coming year.