Goldman's Strange Gym Fee Economics

As though the multi-million dollar bonuses aren't enough to make the rest of the world envy Goldman Sachs bankers, its new headquarters will include a shiny new 54,000 square foot gym. That sure beats our "gym" here at Atlantic Media, which might be 250 square feet. But oddly, Goldman's isn't free. And even stranger: the pay scale is proportional to your level at the firm. What's the logic here?

Social Workout reports on the story and provides a few pics. Its article questions the monthly fees which run:

$132 - Managing Directors
$75 - Vice Presidents
$51 - Everybody Else at Goldman

SW remarks:

Where to begin with this? First, this would seem to suggest that there are only three relevant levels of hierarchy within the Goldman empire. Yay FLAT bureauracy-free management structures! Or perhaps BOO extreme concentration of wealth at the top! But the really wonderful thing is the huge $57 break that Goldman Vice Presidents get on their gym fees vs. the "MDs." Look, an MD might make $20 million a year and have several hundred million in Goldman stock, and so he or she can afford that extra $684 a year. But a poor vice president is probably only making a few million a year, and those savings go directly to the outrageous cost of private schools on the upper east side. Hurray for progressive sliding scales!

Indeed. Goldman is so progressive, presumably it couldn't help but save the "little guys" a few bucks. Any given Associate is probably only making a paltry $350,000 per year or more, so $51 per month is clearly all they can afford. (For the record, when I moved to New York City after college and was barely halfway to making six-figures, I managed to afford a gym membership that cost $65 per month.)

But Felix Salmon wonders why there's a fee at all:

I'm wondering what the logic is here -- is it a Pigovian tax aimed at minimizing the number of healthy employees? Is it an attempt to stop the unfit from complaining about having to cross-subsidize those who work out? Is 54,000 square feet not enough for the whole company, and the charge an attempt to keep numbers down? Or is it some misguided attempt at saving corporate cash, from a company which spent $2 billion on the shiny new building, including $5 million for a Julie Mehretu mural? All very odd.

I have to agree with Felix on this one -- especially considering that this is Goldman we're talking about. The bank's culture is known for being one of the most grueling and where employees have a religious devotion to the firm. If Goldman had its way, then it would probably make its headquarters a huge commune where its bankers would never have to leave, and could work 24-7. It also loves to recruit atheletes. So you would think that it would want to encourage its employees to work out, but do so in the building, rather than try to get out of work a little early or arrive a little late to squeeze in a workout. We also know the company has deep enough pockets to subsidize the gym and easily cover any fringe benefit taxes that may result. So why the fee?