The ‘good life’ means selling your soul


…or at least a paycheque or two…

I had a rant on Twitter a couple of weeks ago about Goodlife and how they wanted me to sign a six-month contract for personal training at a cost of $3800. Before tax.

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I’m not inept when it comes to working out. I’ve been weight training for years.

What I was looking for was someone to change up my routine – spice it up a little and then send me on my way.

I don’t need hand-holding when it comes to working out. What I need is change.

Since I’m a Goodlife member, I thought I’d check out what they had to offer. I found the experience really annoying for a couple of reasons.

  1. It was a waste of time. I explained to the Goodlife representative what I was looking for and he never stopped to say – you know what, we don’t provide that kind of training. Instead, I sat through a one-hour pep talk on what they could offer with the wham-bam price presented at the end. Talk about wasting each other’s time.
  2. He wanted me to sign on the spot! I said no – I don’t spend that kind of money without talking to my husband first and he said, “Oh you can use the phone here; I’ll leave the room.” Ha! Nice try, buddy.

When I got home that night I tweeted the experience and had many kind people offer suggestions on where and who I could get good personal training from at a fraction of the cost. Not only that, a few other people shared their own experiences about the sell Goodlife does with respect to personal training.

Like seriously? That’s the only kind of training you offer? Feels more like a deal with the devil than a personal training program.

I did some investigating of all the suggestions made to me and found that Tara from Motiv8 personal training offered exactly what I was looking for. Not only that, Tara comes to my house, with all the necessary equipment, to create a customized program just for me. She has set up a program I can do on my own and meets with me periodically to assess my progress and make adjustments where needed. Perfect. (I’m not sure if Tara has a website but you can email her at motiv8fitness at live dot ca for information on what she offers.)

Last week I was watching CBC news and they had a promo piece about an upcoming Marketplace investigative report on gyms that do the hard sell, make it difficult to end your membership, etc. Marketplace is calling their investigation The Big Gym Ripoff $earch, and they want you to answer a survey about your gym membership experience.

While I’m not saying Goodlife has “ripped me off”, I do feel that they tried to with a hard pressure sales tactic and an unrealistic expectation that I would actually put that kind of money down on the spot. The whole experience has left me feeling disappointed in them as a brand.

What’s interesting is that Goodlife has just recently launched a new marketing campaign about “the good life” to demonstrate that being healthy is more than being buff, more than what you see in the mirror.

The message is a good one but I don’t really feel it’s truly representative of the experience at that gym. And I guess I’m a little jaded about the campaign’s message after my recent experience inquiring about personal training.

What do you think about their campaign? Are you a Goodlife member? Do you have a similar experience to share? I’d really like to know.

16 Responses to “The ‘good life’ means selling your soul”

  1. Kelly Rusk

    I’m a goodlife member and I ran into the same thing. I wanted to do some personal training here and there to help me switch up my routine, learn new things etc. I’m also disappointed I can’t get that from the gym I already attend. And from what I understand this ‘package’ deal is a new one as my sister has done a lot of personal training and never had to commit to paying $3800.

    I like Goodlife because 1. I happened to get a really cheap member price and 2. they are EVERYWHERE, which is convenient. However, I definitely don’t get any warm fuzzy feeling being associated with the company.

    • melgallant

      so true about Goodlife have a million locations making it convenient to workout. that’s why i’m still a member. 😉

      you know, they’d make more money if they’d let people create the kind of training they need/want. maybe focus less on the hard sell and more on building relationships with members.

  2. Alex (@harzack86)

    This reminds me of the following post I read earlier this week. Way to go Good Life, I’m going to talk with my wife about it 🙂

    • melgallant

      Hi Alex – thanks for sharing that link. At least Goodlife took the time to respond and make amends. Too bad it took a public ‘rant’ to get them to listen.

  3. Ingrid

    A few years back DH and I investigated Good Life, we had an idea of what we wanted and *everyone* was joining Good Life. We got the whole shabang sales talk…yes you too can do the spin classes they are designed for anyone…ok when was the last I actually spun any wheels…are you looking at the shap I am in? I saw $$$ in his eyes. We go the tour, we noticed all the *buff* people working out. I felt uncomfortable as did my DH. “Oh, and did I tell you about our fabulous juice bar?.” Uh, no, but aren’t they full of calories? Oh but they are good for you. Ah huh…ok then thanks for your time and the tour, we will think about it and contact you if we decide to go ahead with it. Well, I could offer you this great deal, if one of you joins the other can get half off… WE SAID WE WOULD THINK ABOUT and why didn’t you mention this great deal in the begining???????

    • melgallant

      thanks for sharing your experience! it reiterates my point to Kelly above. they’re not listening to you / addressing your needs. too focused on the hard sell. disappointing, and one big fail.

  4. Roz

    That’s exactly why i’m NOT a goodlife member.

    A few years ago i wanted to get a gym membership, and like Ingrid mentioned, it seemed as though *everyone* was joining goodlife. I called and asked them how much a membership costs per year. They couldnt’ give me a price over the phone and said i had to come to the gym to find out. I went to the gym and asked them how much the cost of a membership is and they STILL wouldn’t tell me – i had to go on a tour first.

    Finally, when my tour was over they told me how much a yearly membership is. I can’t remember the price, but i do know that it wasn’t inexpensive. I told them i would have to think about it and they said that if i left, i would be forfeiting this “deal” they were offering me today only. I said “really? i can’t even sleep on it for one night??” their answer was no.

    So i walked out without a membership. I could see they were trying to scare me into buying a memership and it’s obviously worked on hundreds of thousands of people. They proceeded to call me every day for the next 4 days trying to get me to buy a membership – they lost their chance at that first meeting.

    I even know of someone who worked at goodlife selling memberships who quit after the first week because of how they were told to treat people and SELL.

    Finally, i’d just like to add that i think it’s good that you aren’t getting your personal training from goodlife, because i know of other people who worked at goodlife (at the front desk or other non-athletic positions) and they were promoted to “personal trainer” with no background or experience in it…

    • melgallant

      Hi Roz,

      Thanks for sharing. It’s sad that so many people are coming forward with similar experiences with Goodlife’s hard sell.

      I am so glad that I went a different route with personal training. Tara is great, and she’s really putting me through my paces!

  5. Marcy

    I have been burned by the Personal Training at Good Life. I am on trainer number 6 and am not getting anywhere as a result. I had a fabulous trainer to begin with and so I signed up for the full personal training, 81 sessions well over $4000. I was so happy with her and the results I was getting. 20 sessions in I was told that she was asked to quit or take on more hours, which she could not do. So she had to quit and I was left with no trainer and no one contacted me about setting up more training.
    I contacted the club manager immediately to let her know my dissapointment and that I would not have signed up for that many sessions if it wasn’t with the initial trainer. I was told there was nothing that she could do for me. I called and emailed the head office and was told that I signed the contract with GoodLife and not the trainer and I needed to fulfill my end. I was also told by the “customer service rep” that they don’t even refund money to people with medical notes. WOW that hit me like a ton of bricks…apparently they are only after my money and once a contract is signed they could care less about it.
    I felt awful because I had encouraged friends to join with me. I left messages and waited to hear about a new trainer…nothing. Almost 5 weeks later finally I had a phone call from the new fitness manager who set me up with a new trainer.
    I showed up for my first session and was told that she had quit. I was so angry because no one had even called to tell me. I need to clarify here, I only joined Good Life because they have child minding and I have to use it in order to work out. So…here I was again, no trainer but of course they were withdrawing over $500 a month for my sessions. Back to the fitness manager who went over what I wanted out of my sessions (look in my file, was what I was thinking) and set me up with a third trainer.
    Tried to book sessions with the new trainer and was told by her that she would have spots for me mid-February. Called her again and was told that the session times that I needed were booked by someone else who was going 4 times a week. (or in other words, someone who was giving them more money). Back to the fitness manager again…who offered up herself as my trainer but for more money.
    Finally I was set up with a brand new trainer, loved her and the workouts and of course one week in, she is no longer with the company either.
    Now they want me to travel to another location in a coed gym to work out or wait but continue to pay into the pot for a suitable trainer to be found at my current location.
    So now here I sit with 60 sessions left and no trainer that meets the qualifications I am looking for, someone with a degree and more of an understanding than the training good life provides them. (side note their training is done by an institution that is owned by the owner of good life, I read somewhere). I am so angry and frustrated and have friends at other clubs that have excellent training and all I want is to be done with Good Life. Please please please don’t sign up for a training contract with Good Life unless you really know what you are getting in to. Now I will have to start again with another trainer, back at square one…

    • melgallant

      Hi Marcy,

      Thanks for sharing you story. Pretty disappointing the run-around you’re receiving. I would keep pressuring them – calling the head office, etc. – to express your dissatisfaction.

      By the way, I ended my membership last month (also got a bit of a runaround and misinformation about the steps involved) but it’s finally done.

      Best of luck with your personal training issue. I hope it gets resolved.

    • sonya

      Hey Marcy,

      Sorry to hear your story. Which location are your sessions at?
      If your in the Vaughan, Ontario area I can refer you to an amazing trainer who I am currently working with!

    • melgallant

      Hi Sonya,

      I’ve let Marcy know you are interested in helping her out.

    • Marcy

      Hi everyone,
      I should update…I was at the Deerfoot Calgary location but they “asked” me to try another club since they can’t keep their staff. So here I am on trainer number 6 and at the McKenzie location and Mike is FABULOUS! He actually understands body movement and how muscles work and I am enjoying myself completely. Too bad that I had to deal with so much CRAP to get here and had to basically start all over again. He pushes me and encourages and we actually have a great time. I go again tonight for session number 6 and am looking forward to it!
      I still would be hesitant to sign up for a gym that requires a long contract, especially when a lot of the big gyms require none.
      Buyer beware I have learned!!

    • melgallant


      So glad to hear you found a trainer for keeps at last!

  6. Chris

    Heres my experience:

    I went into to get advice, had no idea they would try to sell me soooooooooo hard… I ve talked to many shady car dealerships for fun over the years of learning about cars, looking for used cars. This is worse case of hardselling I have ever experienced… worse than call centers worse than anything I have ever experienced. This is like 100 to 1000 times worse than the shaddies used car salesmen.

    Firstly they try to make you commit to yourself, that you want to do this… that you can do this. Thats great… then they set goals for you… than I start to figure out hes trying to set me up with sessions and I was like this is not what I came in for tonight. Hes like I thought they told you…

    He said it would be 7500$ for a whole year of sessions and said that was a deal because the trainer was at a lower level and in a week they’d would be going up. If i were to train with him it would be 10000$ I was like I cant pay that, Id rather go to school again or buy a new car.

    Said how much you pay for school? Than after saying how much, he was like this is less and this is your life and health.

    Tried to use scare tactics of heart disease, clogged arteries etc… diabetes.. I am 28, he said by 38 I could be dead… DEAD!? I was like hell no, theres no way I am that bad, and I have come along way since a year ago… I read packages… the problem I have is snacking at night and these are things I can do on my own… I am like your not going to be there to guide my eating habits at home are you?

    Then he took my blood pressure wrong this was after a workout, I was like theres noway… I know people way worse than me, and I know they are at higher risk than me… it made no sense… than he said he a client and another trainer came in and tried to sell me even more.

    OH AND HE SAID IF I COULDNT AFFORD IT I SHOULD ASK MY PARENTS FOR THE MONEY! I laughed at him, I was like why would I ask my parents for that kind of money?

    I wish I would have recorded this…

    • melgallant

      Oh Chris,

      That is terrible. Ya the high pressure sales tactics…it does kind of feel like you’re in the process of buying a used car for sure. As if the used car salesmen moonlighting as a trainer tells you to ask your parents for the money! Brutal.

      I think they focus too much on trying to get you to buy these big packages versus focusing on what is the real goal – get you fit. Why they don’t offer different packages to suit different lifestyles/needs, etc. – I have no idea. The personal trainer I found through a friend is great. She comes to my house, my workouts our tailored to my individual needs and goals and she works me hard but at a fair price. I don’t have to “sell my soul” to get guidance in my training.

      I wish you luck Chris in finding a trainer (maybe at a different gym?) that works for you. Oh and by the way, if you go to cancel your membership, call the Goodlife head office directly. Do NOT do it through your local gym – they give you the runaround if you do.

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