Most Americans Wouldn’t Go to the Gym If You Paid Them, According to a New Study

We're totally ok spending money on gym memberships—but actually getting to the gym? Not so much.

Bojan-Milinkov/ShutterstockIn 2000, there were 32.8 million memberships to fitness centers or health clubs in the United States on file, according to Statista. In 2016, that number had leaped to 57.25 million memberships. Americans seem to sign up for gyms more and more, and if you believe in the adage “It’s the thought that counts,” then the U.S. is chock-full of 57.25 million body-builders. 

However, despite how much we seem willing to pay for gym memberships, it seems that when it actually comes down to going to the gym itself, we won’t go even if we were paid.

A working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research pieced together a research group of 836 new gym members, then divided them up into four groups. The control was paid $30 regardless of whether they chose to go to the gym or not, while the other three groups were given incentives of $30, $60, or an item of their choosing worth $30 if they managed to attend the gym nine times in a six-week span.

The study found that the incentivized groups only saw a pretty negligible increase in attendance as opposed to the control group, and that increase disappeared after the initial six weeks. By the last four weeks of the study, the incentivized groups had dropped their gym attendance down to just once a week. Yikes!

If money won’t do it for you, sometimes pure determination might; this father of four lost 200 pounds in just under year.

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