The Punch Pass Solution

-Jon Harbour

Without exception and by definition, effective strength training is hard work. It takes a commitment from everyone to get up early, stay up late and make time to put the work in. Above all, strength training is a skill. Skills must be learned and then practiced. Often times, requiring lots of trial and error along the way (Read: More Hard Work). Even to those who have never stepped foot in a strength gym, this should be abundantly clear.

I have never heard a couch potato complain that they don’t want to start strength training because its “too easy”.

This is where the problem of the Punch Pass comes in as it pertains to a strength training gym. Buying a punch pass to the gym simply allows us to skip all of these steps and struggles, and proceed to the finish line as if you won a prize for just signing up. Don’t get me wrong, signing up is the first step, but why is it that most punch passes then end up lost in the glove box, indistinguishable from those grocery store discount cards and coupons you will never use? In one word, its consistency. You need to sign up and show up. Ideally, two-four days a week depending on your goals. This means showing up when you feel great, but more importantly, showing up when you’re too tired, too busy, and DON’T feel your best. Its these experiences strung together over a long period of time that will change your life. In other words, consistency is key and punch passes are the enemy of consistency.

The Three Laws of Punch Passes:

  • Guarantees Lack of Value

Punch passes, by design, require you to place a very low value on your health and fitness. Just like the $9.99/month globo-gym membership tells you that your health and fitness is worth less than a your lunch, the punch pass tells you that each day, week, and month that goes by you you are actually paying less…as long as you still have some sessions left on your pass of course. This actually makes it more psychologically appealing to train less often!!!

  • Guarantees Lack of Progress

As discussed, the punch pass actually rewards and makes it more cost effective to go to the gym less often. While that alone obviously sends the wrong message, you also need to look at what the lack of time between training will do to our progress when we have several days of even weeks between sessions. Much like being consistent in the gym will ensure the greatest results, having extended periods of time between sessions will also ensure a lack of progress and frustration with those results. Skills take much longer to learn and fitness milestones take longer to achieve.

  • Guarantees Lack of Sustainability

Strength training a few times a month is going to get you no where, and is arguably worse than not strength training at all. This scenario simple puts you in an environment where you want to play catch up all the time. You lift heavier and go harder than you should. Your form and technique never gets a chance to adapt and you put yourself at a much greater chance of injury. None of this is sustainable and typically leads to you searching for a new gym option within six months.

The solution? For starters, you need to find a qualified strength training facility that is more interested in long term sustainable results. Ideally, buying a punch pass shouldn’t even be an option when it comes to strength training, but in reality, most gyms need to sell punch passes in order to supplement their income. This is understandable, but also flies in the face of seeing their members actually achieve long term and sustainable results. Remember, consistency is key and that means you are in charge. A good strength training gym should place a huge emphasis on YOUR level of commitment and explain how this is going to be in direct correlation to the results you can expect.

For example, if you want to go to the gym a few times month…then expect a “few times a month” results.

Secondly, prior to starting any new strength training program your gym should insist that you start off your membership with private, one-on-one training…no exceptions. This is for several reasons, but the main take away here should be that strength training is a skill. You need to learn that skill and learn how to apply it to your goals. Your gym should also want you to learn that skill. This means faster results in a safe atmosphere for you…and happy members for your gym.