For many years, we belonged to the area Y: we had a killer family rate ($300/yr) and used it for various things: Mr FS used the pool, Miss Em took ballet, Frugal Son did this and that, and even I--when I could rouse myself from my comfy chair--walked on the treadmill. Then they moved to a very bad facility with no pool. We stuck it out, even though we seldom traveled to the distant facility because the manager said we could keep our special membership rate. They built a big new Y and--after years of holding on to our cheap membership so we could use the new facility--the director said the "computer wouldn't take our membership." Right. The new facility is very far away and the new cost about quadruple, so good-bye.
Last spring we bought a Groupon for two months at a facility (no pool) about a 15 minute walk from our house. We didn't plan to renew after the 2 months. When the facility opened about 4 years ago, we inquired and discovered that there was a MASSIVE joining fee, plus a monthly fee of $120 for the two of us, to be paid upfront for the year.
We finally activated the Groupon yesterday. Out of politeness, I asked what the fees were. NO JOINING FEE! Monthly fees: the owner said "Where do you work?" When it finally emerged that we were teachers, she said "We love our teachers! You get the public servant rate for $60.00/month for the two of you!" I said that we went away in the summer, "No problem! You can suspend your membership." Then I asked if you had to pay for a year in advance. "No, not in the current economic climate."
I can't think of another way that the economic downturn has benefited me or most people. I guess bankruptcy lawyers and the like are doing fine.
But I think we may join the health club at the end of our trial. So happy.