Do Lower Prices Equate To Lower Motivation?

In the last few months, my exercise routine has fallen off.  I have  yet to go more than a week without going to the gym (except during camping trips), but my normal four day per week routine fell to as little as one time and is now averaging around three times per week.

Initially I blamed the summer months and being busy, tired, etc. along with the activities, but when I took a closer look, I realized that my fall off not only occurred right around the time when summer started, but it also happened to be the time that I switched gyms…and got a lower price.

Prior to summer, I had been working out at a local gym and paying around $22 per month.  When Planet Fitness announced that they were opening, I enthusiastically switched as their pricing was only $10 per month.  I typically utilize cardio machines 90% of the time, which is the specialty of Planet Fitness.  My old gym had much more in the way of weights, but that was largely wasted on me.

I started to wonder if my gym routine took less importance in my mind when a ‘missed’ day had less cost.  Back when I was working out 4 times per week, that equated to roughly $1.32 per workout ($22.50 per month exactly divided by 17 workouts per month).  Once I started paying only $10 per month, that price per workout could be matched by only going 7-8 times per month…which is what I was hitting around the summer.

I wonder if subcounciously I had said “As long as I’m getting my money’s worth at the $1.32 price point, I’m OK”  and was letting that influence my decision.

I suppose time will tell.

It’s not all disappointment, though.  On the flip side of things, even with the reduced attendance, I’m still at my longest stretch of continued attendance at a gym in my life.  That’s pretty cool.  So, the good news is that I haven’t given up altogether, which is all too often the problem, and a much bigger one if you think about it.

Now that I’ve had this hit me, I’m going to work on getting back up to four times per week and keep that going through at least the fall and winter.  And, if you know Michigan weather, that would entail quite a few months in which to get back and stay on track!

It brings to mind some other potential examples:

  • If the price of your favorite pizza went down, would you throw leftovers away rather than keeping them or heating them up?
  • If your cable bill went down, do you think people would still try to call and get discounts or switch providers?
  • If car prices went down by 50%, would you cut the amount of time you keep the car by half? (Not taking into account the fact that a car costing half the price would probably fall apart in half the time)

What do you think, readers, what element does price weigh in on motivation?

9 thoughts on “Do Lower Prices Equate To Lower Motivation?”

  1. The price of a gym membership wouldn’t motivate or de-motivate me from going. For the last few years (I’m also on the longest stretch of consistently going to the gym – going on 4 years now), it’s just been part of my daily routine. Eat, breathe, work, sleep….gym. Has to be done. But I do understand the point of your illustration, and agree that price certainly does play into one’s motivation to use or conserve certain products. Gas prices are a good one too…when gas was super expensive, I was more motivated to bike to work, and to stay home instead of leave town for weekend getaways and family functions. As gas prices decrease, I’m much less motivated to try to conserve gas.

  2. Personally, I don’t think so. If I pay anything at all I want to use it. If something is free then maybe I do not put as much into it- maybe.

    That being said, what you ask here has me thinking. Even though I do not believe the price makes a difference, it very well may on an unconscious level.

  3. My first reaction is to say lower prices don’t affect behavior, but I think in the case with gyms it could. Depending on the person if the prices cheap, maybe you aren’t initially motivated to develop the gym habit.

    When I was a college student, I qualified for a discount for the city recreation centers – $50 for a year membership. I played racquetball weekly, but I think my motivation was meeting up with friends, not the price.

    • Years ago, I used to work out with a friend. I actually stopped because it was so distracting that I wasn’t getting a good workout. There can definitely be a social element to exercising!

  4. I see your point – at a certain price level things become “disposable” and we may not look after them because they can be replaced so easily – there is a big difference if look across the generations (my grandparents generation – everything had to last as long as possible, a lifetime even and everything was much more expensive.)

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