In a long-overdue move, Dorine and I have changed gym memberships from Defined Fitness (DF) to Planet Fitness (PF), located on Eubank Blvd. north of Constitution Ave. (PF is in space once occupied by TG&Y, a dimestore in which I spent a good deal of my childhood and adolescence; thus I feel entirely at home there.) We'd been paying $32 each per month to belong to DF, which was the Sandia National Laboratories corporate rate and actually a "good" deal -- except that DF is much more gym than we needed and rather expensive for what we used it for. I'd put off looking into PF, thinking that the $10(+ tax)/month membership fee must mean it had cast-off cardio gear from other gyms; however, several people had informed us that PF's cardio equipment is actually new, of good quality, and plentiful, which convinced me to investigate.
As it turned out, PF had a sign-up deal going, under which it waived almost all of the first-year annual "rate guarantee" fee ($29/person otherwise), which in turn meant Dorine and I only had to pay ~$23 total to join and for the month of October. We've been to PF twice so far (Friday and yesterday afternoon), and the Cybex treadmills there are more than adequate. They don't have individual TV screens like the fancy Precor treadmills at DF, but, since I listen to music on my iPod Shuffle while running, anyway, that's a minor point. I was surprised (notwithstanding the fact that we went at non-peak times) to find so few members there, which tells me (a) that the word about PF hasn't really got out yet, and/or (b) that, for many people, going to the gym is still more about seeing, and being seen by, other people than about simply working out and staying fit. That makes me wonder about the viability of PF's business model (particularly in the Albuquerque area), despite the fact that it is a national concern, locally owned by a franchisee. Not that I want the place to be over-run by members -- I hate waiting in line for a treadmill -- but I do want it to stay in business, and thus I will tell other people about it.
[Update, 10/10/09: Of course, logically, it is easier to convince people to buy a gym membership that they won't use when it costs ~$10/month instead of ~$40/month. It goes without saying that most gyms count on having a certain percentage of their members not show up very often, but PF's business model may take for granted a higher percentage of such members than do other gyms.]