No Membership, No Problem: You Can Pay Per Minute at the Gym With This New App
Money doesn't grow on trees — though we wish it did — so joining a gym can be too much of a financial commitment for some. Even still, memberships aren't as accessible as they claim to be at times (thank God for home workouts, right?). Apps like Zeamo, which we reviewed earlier this year, let you pay for daily, weekly, or monthly passes to gyms without the long-term obligation of becoming a member. But here lies a problem: what if you only wanted to spend 30 minutes at a gym? You'd have to buy a day pass just for the quick half-hour. Enter FlexIt, an app that offers something different: a pay-per-minute workout plan where you have even more control over how much money you spend on fitness.
FlexIt launched in January and is partnered with 500 gyms across the country as of now, founder and CEO Austin Cohen told POPSUGAR. The idea stemmed from his need for flexibility in a gym setting. "Personally, I did not see a solution for adding variety to my fitness routine at home and when on the road for work," he said. "I wanted a way to access my fitness the way that Uber enables me to move from point A to point B and be able to pay for what I used in the process of trying out new gyms." And flexibility is, well, in the name.
Austin continued, "With FlexIt, you can meet new trainers, bring friends along to train, finish a run or bike ride at a gym in a new neighborhood, and gain access to specific equipment necessary to recovery." FlexIt and the clubs it partners with, including Retro Fitness, Pulse, and others, decide on the price they charge per minute, he said. So rates will vary, and they're affordable, too. Plus, even people with memberships to one gym can test out other facilities while traveling or simply at their own leisure, which sounds really cool. Ahead, check out how FlexIt works and my review on using the app in New York City.
How FlexIt Works
I was surprised how simple it was to use FlexIt. You download it for free (it's currently available for iOS and Android devices), make an account, and set up your payment information. Then, you can search for FlexIt partner gyms in your area by nearest location or lowest rate per minute and head on over to that gym.
There will be a FlexIt sign at the gym's front desk with a barcode, as seen here. Select the "check in" option from the app's drop-down menu, scan the barcode, and go work out. (This also includes any classes that you don't have to prebook!) Your time starts once the barcode is scanned. Once you leave, make sure to check out by scanning the same barcode.
I asked Austin what would happen if you forgot to check out on the app before leaving, and he said there are a number of safeguards in place in case that happens. First, FlexIt gyms are geofenced, he said, "meaning there is a virtual fence around the gym, beyond the perimeter of which users will get automatically checked out." Second, after an hour of working out, FlexIt users are notified at regular increments asking them whether they're still working out, and if not, they're prompted to end that session. Gym staff can also manually check out users, and you can contact FlexIt support online or through the app, too. FlexIt let me try using the app for free — read on for a look into how my experience went.
My Experience With FlexIt: Checking In
There were a number of FlexIt locations to choose from close to my NYC office, but I picked the Manhattan Athletic Club (MAC). Once there, I spotted the FlexIt sign with the barcode and scanned it on the app to check in. Pictured is a screenshot of what the app looked like once I checked in.
The kind woman at the front desk walked me through the gym's amenities — I didn't end up using the steam room, though it was an option — and I was on my merry way to do 20 minutes on the StairMaster (my favorite!), 15 minutes of treadmill sprints, sets of push-ups, and some stretching. Every time I opened up FlexIt during my workout, I could track the minutes that had passed since I first signed in.
My Experience With FlexIt: Checking Out
Checking out was as easy as checking in. I finished my workout in under an hour and ended my session by scanning the barcode at the front desk. The receipt that popped up after I checked out is pictured here. A representative from MAC told me that monthly dues are $185 and paying in full for a year is $1,620. The gym also sells standard daily guest passes at $35. My workout session cost under $17.
I've only ever signed up for a gym during a three-month period in college over Summer vacation. I'm lucky enough to have equipment (though no StairMaster!) in my basement to use, so I don't necessarily need a full membership at this point in my life. As with anything new, it was a weird feeling to know that I didn't belong to MAC, but that's also the appeal — FlexIt redefines the exclusivity of memberships. You don't need to "belong" anywhere to find fitness in your hometown or a new city. And this app gives me, a non-gym-goer for the most part, the opportunity to explore my options.
What's Next For FlexIt?
FlexIt is currently available in eight markets: New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, Arizona, Illinois, Florida, and Maryland. Austin said this will only grow from here — FlexIt is going to roll out in another dozen places over the next few months — and its gym partners will expand as well so users will have more options. You can find additional information about these upcoming changes on FlexIt's website. Sounds like a plan I can get behind!