Twenty-nine-year-old Tomáš found out about the price increase a few days ago. His employer, whom he did not wish to name, does not subsidize the Multisport card. “The HR department told us that there is an unsubsidized card for 940 crowns until December. from January 1, but already for 1,370 crowns. I go to the gym and to the sauna with her, but now I’m considering stopping paying her,” says Tomáš.
The thirty-year-old Klára also expressed the same to the editors. “I will no longer pay for my card, the price is disproportionate,” says Klára.
In the editor’s poll, whether they will keep the benefit sports card despite the increase in price, those for whom the employer pays a large part of the card’s price or even pays it in full answered positively. “I have it for free, if it gets more expensive, I’ll keep it anyway,” answers thirty-year-old Anita Martincová.
Her peer Markéta Němečková is in a similar situation. “Due to the frequency of the exercises, it still pays off for me, but it’s starting to get on the edge,” explains Němečková.
According to the director of the Multisport company Miroslav Rech, the card will not be flat-rate for everyone. “Some companies took it upon themselves and paid the price. The price increase will not affect everyone,” says Rech for iDNES.cz. With the new price list, according to him, the company responded to the accumulation of several factors at once.
“Essentially everything has become more expensive, from energy to the very entrances to the sports grounds,” Rech enumerates. According to the head of the company, despite the increase in price, the price of the card is still undervalued. “Every day you can go to some sports activity with her. At the same time, you can ride a shared bike with her twice a day,” reminds Rech.
They don’t go to practice without a card, the sports center says
The operators of sports venues are afraid of the outflow of “multi-athletes”, who in some make up to half of the clientele. And they had to increase the price of the entrance fee year-on-year. “We are not a big fitness center. We only have nine muscle sessions per week. The number of clients with a benefit card has increased several times since 2017, and within one lesson, where I have a capacity of eighteen people, such people already make up more than half of each lesson,” says Barbora Stejskalová, owner of Jumping Fitness Brno.
According to her internal research, people would not even go to exercise without a Multisport card. They would find a sports venue that accepts the card, or engage in an activity that doesn’t cost money. However, despite increased inflation, people are still interested in non-traditional exercises on trampolines and the lessons are usually full.
“But it’s mainly because of the benefit cards. The ratio of the regular client versus the MultiSport client has changed in favor of the MultiSport client,” admits Stejskalová.
Some sports venues are considering canceling cooperation with benefit card providers. “For us, the price at which we sell entry to the wall via benefit cards is becoming very disadvantageous. In addition, due to the specificity of the service, the benefit of a higher number of clients is not even certain,” says Bronislav Janda from the Flash Boulder climbing wall in Olomouc. He adds that roughly one in ten uses a benefit card with them.
Employers can switch to other benefits
According to Eva Svobodová, CEO of the Association of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Entrepreneurs of the Czech Republic (AMSP ČR), the market for employee benefits is quite competitive.
“If one player becomes more expensive, employers can easily switch to another benefits provider. “Cards with unlimited access to sports grounds used to be a trend, but employers know how to calculate well that the high price might not be worth it for most employees, because they don’t use the card that often during the month,” says Svobodová.
Therefore, according to her, many employers today choose a different type of benefit card, where people only pay for the activity they actually use. “In addition to sports venues, such cards can also be used to visit cultural events or for health services,” adds Svobodová.
Sports for health?
In a recent survey commissioned by MultiSport, it was found that 64 percent of people who do sports now would start thinking about stopping exercise if the price of sports activities increased dramatically. According to Jana Havrdová, president of the Czech Chamber of Fitness, focusing on this group of people is important. Those who want to exercise will exercise. “Employee benefits can be a significant motivator for people to move,” says Havrdová.
Czechs are very lazy when it comes to sports, at least according to the Eurobarometer public opinion survey. 56 percent of those interviewed never or rarely do sports, only 7 percent of Czechs exercise regularly. However, the Czechs have improved since the last time the barometer was monitored.
“Active lifestyle and physical activity are a deeply underestimated topic in the Czech Republic, especially at the political level, despite a number of demonstrable positive benefits not only for the physical and mental condition of the population, but also for the costs of health care and the state’s social system,” says Havrdová .