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Interesting Items

Let's be honest: Not everything we write about is the most thrilling, the most exciting subject matter known to mankind. However, there are some topics I've touched upon this week that have actually made me perk up, even about topics such as billings and collections.

I talked to an industry "insider" today for my story on billings and collections that will appear in our December issue. He said that more gym-goers are paying for their memberships by credit cards these days than through their checking/savings accounts. Five years ago, 65 percent of memberships were paid through checking accounts, and 35 percent were paid by credit card, he said. Today, the numbers are reversed, with 65 percent paid by credit card and 35 percent paid through checking accounts.

Why? My source offered two reasons. One, our not-so-wonderful economy has made people make more purchases by credit card. Two, credit card companies are offering more points to their customers for using their cards.

How does this affect club owners? Tremendously. Club owners, my source said, really need to start encouraging members to pay through their checking account. For a $50 per month membership, for example, the transaction cost through an ACH (Automated Clearing House) is only 25 cents to the club owner. For the same membership, the transaction cost would be roughly $1.50 to the club owner at a 2 to 3 percent rate for using a credit card.

Keep in mind that a debit card is essentially the same to the club owner as a credit card. A debit card, at a 2 percent rate, would cost the club owner $1 for that membership per month. That's why my source encourages clubs to obtain a voided check from members to get access directly to their checking accounts, thus costing the club owner less money per membership per month. Usually, I don't divulge too much information before writing a story, but this was too good to keep under wraps.

Something else to look forward to in December: Check out the Step by Step column by Brian Grasso, CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association. I edited the column the other day, and Brian offers some really well thought-out views on children's fitness. He has a good column for November, but really, you've got to see his December offering. A good read, indeed.

A couple of housekeeping notes: The corporate fitness story I had been working on for November has been postponed until a future issue. No word on when that will run.

Also, hopefully by Thursday, I'll have a story up on the Web site about World Gym's new key-card club model that is scheduled to launch as early as next month. (I talked to Ben Midgley, World Gym president, on Tuesday.) The name of the model is World Gym 1440 All Axcess. (That's not a misspelling.) Why 1440? That's how many minutes there are in a day. Let's see...60 minutes in an hour times 24 hours in a day ... yep, his story checks out!

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