Being cheap has never been so easy.

OK. You've just sunk all you can (and more!) into a new computer system. You've upgraded your equipment, expanded your programs and hired more staff.

You're working over 80 hours a week, your investments aren't yet beginning to pay for themselves, and memberships are showing signs of a plateau for the summer months.

Now, your members are demanding Internet access in your cardio room so they can check their e-mail and watch television while they work out. On top of that, they also want an interactive fitness program to track their progress. And, oh, yeah, where's that beverage vending machine they've been asking about for months?

DON'T PANIC!

Just order the Web site, the assessment system and the vending machine. You won't have to pay for it. It's free. Yeah, F-R-E-E. As in you don't have to pay for it. We've checked it out. We've done our homework, and we've learned that you come out the winners!

Here is a list of companies that are offering services and products for free. So, give your corporate card a holiday and go for it, NOW!

Vending Machines A free machine for selling beverages? All you need to do is share the profit.

The Company: Pepsi Cola Inc.

The Deal: Since April 1999, Pepsi has offered clubs a $3,000-value, Pepsi machine FREE. Each 20-oz. beverage bottle sells for $1 each. The club fills the machine and receives a negotiated percentage of the sales. IHRSA members can get an average of 28 percent of the revenue from the sales. Pepsi will also offer some promos towards giveaways for new IHRSA members in June.

The Catch: Pepsi will do a club-site survey to determine if your machine is in a high-traffic area and if member traffic can generate enough sales. Pepsi regional distributor reps check on the machine's sales with the club regularly. For those clubs that may not qualify for space for a vending machine, Pepsi of-fers a Pepsi cooler deal. Pepsi is sold at no agreed price (as opposed to $1 per 20-oz. bottle), and the company will assist with a club's in-house promos to drive traffic to the cooler.

The Deadline: None.

The Contact: Call Shawn Jones at (336) 896-5523.

The Web Site: www.pepsi.com

Membership Generators Club networks and fitness assessments-two free methods for getting new faces into your facility.

The Company: World Pass for Fitness

The Deal: A FREE affiliation with World Pass for Fitness enables clubs to open their doors to members of other clubs from outside a 75-mile radius. World Pass sells annual memberships to other club members who travel outside of their region, which allows the members to work out at another gym participating in the program.

New members can be generated from within your ZIP code area from World Pass sales to non-club members. Once a nonmember arrives at your club with his World Pass card, you have the opportunity to sell that user a membership to your club. World Pass pays commissions to your club for sales from everyone who buys a World Pass membership in your ZIP code area. Plus World Class will pay you a commission on all fitness products sold over its Web site to your members and any renewals they receive from your ZIP code.

No long-term contract or investment is needed. Participating clubs get a listing on the World Pass Web site.

The Catch: Only one site is registered nationally for each ZIP code. Clubs may register with any ZIP code within a 10-mile radius of the club's site. Clubs must meet amenities criteria (i.e., no personal trainer or limited-service rehab sites qualify) as full-service facilities.

The Deadline: None. Check for ZIP code availability.

The Contact: Steve Diamond, vice president, World Pass for Fitness, 2901 Long Beach Road, Oceanside, NY 11572; (800) OK WORLD (659-6753)

The Web site: www.worldpass4fitness.com; use the code CLUB for entry

The Company: FitnessAge

The Deal: FitnessAge offers clubs a fitness assessment computer free. The system contains FitnessAge's complete 30-minute fitness assessment program, which provides a person's chronological fitness level. The computer also has Internet access and information on the FitnessAge challenge (a motivational program), as well as the vCustom supplement program that ships assessment-tailored supplements to the exerciser's home.

The Catch: Clubs pay FitnessAge for each assessment used. According to FitnessAge's vice president of sales, Gary McCoy, some clubs charge members for the assessment, and some clubs absorb the costs for promotions.

The Deadline: To be determined.

The Contact: FitnessAge, 4250 Executive Square, Suite 101, La Jolla, CA 92037; (858) 625-4222; fax: (858) 625-4200; sales@fitnessage.com

The Web Site: www.fitnessage.com

Web Sites These companies are looking to get publicity from your Web site, which they are willing to give away to your club.

The Company: FitLinxx

The Deal: FitLinxx offers clubs a free customized Web site. According to John Colbert, FitLinxx's director of program marketing, the deal is "no cost, no hassles-a no brainer!" FitLinxx provides release 1.0 of the Web site software free and provides technical support for building a Web page as well as hosting the site and helping to develop its content and design.

The Catch: Future software releases, upgrades and Web site functions may be offered at a "nominal" fee.

The Deadline: Club Industry readers have until June 30, 2000.

The Contact: FitLinxx, 860 Canal St., Stamford, CT 06902; (800) 410-1110; fax: (203) 316-5150

The Web Site: www.fitlinxx.com/club-industry.asp; the promotional code for this offer is "clubi"

The Company: WiredVines Inc.

The Deal: Clubs can create and maintain a free site via WiredVines Web site. No software purchase is necessary. Forms-based software gives clubs options to develop discussion groups, class registration, newsletters and password-encrypted security pages for members and/or staff.

The Catch: Clubs must already have Internet access and a Web browser. A club is responsible for building its own Web site with WiredVines support.

The Deadline: None.

The Contact: WiredVines Inc., 2250 Hickory Road, Suite 10, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462-1047; Brent Edwards at (610) 825-3200, ext. 105; fax: (610) 825-4244; sales@wiredvines.com.

The Web site: www.wiredvines.com

Entertainment Systems By adding advertising to their systems, these companies can afford to entertain your members for nothing.

The Company: ClubCom

The Deal: ClubCom offers free digital music videos and audio including video and sound equipment. Local and regional advertising with entertainment generates revenues for each club.

The Catch: A five-year contract is required for service and equipment installation. ClubCom asks clubs for local lead generations for advertising.

The Deadline: None.

The Contact: ClubCom Inc., 6 Penn Center West, Pittsburgh, PA 15276; (888) 588-7717

The Web Site: www.clubcom.com

The Company: E-Zone Networks Inc.

The Deal: E-Zone announced an offer of 10,000 free server-based, wide area network interactive media stations in January to 12 major U.S. metropolitan media markets. Letters were sent to clubs that fit E-Zone's profile. E-Zone's area sales managers targeted the sites. Included in the offer were up to 20 screens per club on video servers with on-demand training videos, entertainment channels, cable television, digital music, personal cardio history and full Internet access. The offer included free installation and service.

The Catch: E-Zone's initial offer was limited to preselected health clubs in targeted metro areas. But, according to E-Zone president and COO Eric Hobson, the offer isn't quite over. The company is open to "evaluating" clubs in major U.S. metro areas for future installations.

The Deadline: The initial offer ended April 30, 2000. Regional E-Zone sales managers can be contacted for qualification details and club consideration.

The Contact: E-Zone Networks Inc., 630 Airpark Road, Suite A, Napa, CA 94558; (707) 259-1377, (877) 883-9663; fax: (707) 259-1376

The Web Site: www.ezonenetworks.com

The Company: Netpulse Communications Inc.

The Deal: Netpulse is giving away its entertainment systems to qualifying clubs and, in some cases, upgraded equipment (e.g., for a large-quantity sale, a club's older equipment can be upgraded to use Netpulse). Free broadband (fast) Internet service is also included with the deal, which allows members to surf the Web, shop online, read e-mail, listen to music, watch television, and customize their workout programs. Qualifications for the free service can be determined by processing an online application at Netpulse's Web site. Even those clubs that do not qualify for the whole package may be able to get free Netpulse stations with a monthly fee and shipping charges.

The Catch: Qualifying clubs need high-traffic count and membership.

The Deadline: None.

The Contact: Netpulse Communications Inc., 215 2nd St., Third Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105; (415) 357-1999, (888) 55-PULSE (557-8573); fax: (415) 357-1998

The Web Site: www.netpulse.com