Why We Buy Workout Gear, Abandon It, and Keep Coming Back for More

My confession is a list: A Pilates table. Two gym memberships. An online diet program. A martial arts training regimen. And, of course, a treadmill. I paid good money for these things. I had the best intentions.

I didn’t use them.

The only consolation? If I am a lazy slug, at least I’m not alone. The overwhelming guilt and the empty hole in my pocket—my dreams made me both weak and broke—are borne out by tons of statistics that indicate how few people get any benefit from their fitness dollars once they’ve spent them. One of the most staggering examples comes via a 2014 survey conducted by NPR’s Planet Money: The Planet Fitness chain (no relation to the show except that they’re both from a planet) has more than 1,700 individual clubs, with an average of about 6,500 members per location. The capacity of each of these facilities, however, is 300 people at a time.

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