07 June 2012
Thinking of Joining a Gym? No Sweat If You Follow These Tips

Whether you want to tone up or slim down, choosing the right gym to fit your lifestyle shouldn’t be a casual decision. Choosing the wrong gym may cost you a lot of cash. And, if you sign up for a lock-tight, 24-month contract, you could be paying for something you stopped using last February.

Exercise and fitness are good for you, but choosing the wrong gym may leave less in the pocketbook and more around the waistline, so here are seven tips to choosing the right gym at the right price for your physical and financial health.

1. What are your fitness center options? Just check the Internet or the phonebook to see a list of gyms that are close to where you live or work. If you choose a gym that’s 50 miles away, you probably won’t work out as much as you will at a gym two blocks over.  Make a list of the gyms in your area. Then, start doing the legwork to research each one.

2. Ask friends for referrals. There’s nothing more trustworthy than good advice from a good friend. Talk to your friends about their gym memberships to get the whole picture, from the fine print to the cleanliness of the equipment.

3. Take advantage of trials, sales, and other incentives. The fitness industry is highly competitive, so gyms and fitness center chains often offer a “FREE 30-Day Trial,” or a “NO CONTRACT MEMBERSHIP.”

The free trial may still require a down payment, refundable if you opt out of a full membership. Or, you may simply have the chance to try before you buy. Find a 30-day free trial deal from a nearby gym and give it a try. You’ll know soon enough whether this is the right gym for you.

4. Visit the gym at different times of the day and week. Gyms are typically busiest early in the morning, before work, and from 5:00 to 7:00 after work. Stop by during busy times to see if there’s a free elliptical or stepper when you want to use one.

Also, stop by on a weekday and on a Saturday to see if the gym fills up with weekend warriors. The point? You want access to equipment on your schedule, whatever that schedule is.

5. Check out the equipment and the facilities. You don’t need to be an expert to inspect fitness equipment. Does it look new? Is it worn out? Is it safe? And, are there trained fitness pros to show you how to use the equipment properly?

Also check out the locker room for security and the shower for cleanliness. If they don’t meet your standards, move to the next facility on your list.

6. Research community facilities. You may be able to get in shape for free if you use the pool at the high school or the weight room at the community fitness center. These tax-funded facilities are usually free to residents and low-cost for nearby neighbors from other communities.  Call your city’s Parks and Recreation Department for more information.

7. Read the gym membership contract very carefully. The terms should be complete and completely transparent.  Calculate the total cost of membership. Is there a sign-up fee? Monthly fees? A cancellation fee? This information is often found in the fine print, so read the fine print carefully and calculate the worst-case scenario in terms of cost.

What’s the term of the gym membership? Are you signing up for 30 days or two years? And what happens if you decide to quit (or have to move)? Read the cancellation clause with extra care.

If you don’t understand the terms, talk to the fitness center manager or staff for explanations. And don’t sign anything until: (1) you understand exactly what you’re signing – including the fine print; and (2) you have confidence in the information provided by the fitness center owner or manager.

Physical fitness is a multi-billion dollar industry, and gyms are a big part of that industry. Unfortunately, there are a lot of horror stories of gym members who are locked into a lengthy contract, paying hundreds of dollars for facilities they no longer use.

Don’t be victimized by fine print and don’t be dazzled by slick logos and TV ads. Go with a gym that fits your schedule, your fitness goals and your wallet.  Be a smart consumer of fitness products and services.


The information contained herein may not represent the views and opinions of Nevada State Bank or its affiliates.  It is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.


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