Archive for the tag - joining a gym

6 Important Questions to Ask Before Joining a Gym.

Earlier in the year, I shared 6 helpful tips for finding the right gym. But even once you’ve found a gym that feels like a good fit, there are still a handful of questions that you should ask before signing the dotted line:

  1. What are the terms of the contract? Often times, gyms offer an introductory price or special promotion. It’s important to know how long the promotional price will last, and what the price will be thereafter. Ask how long the contract will last (some are month-to-month, and others require full year commitments). Moreover, ask if the price of membership can be increased without notice and if monthly membership can be frozen (i.e., if you take an extended trip).
  2. What exactly does my contract include? Many gyms charge separate fees for their different services – including a towel fee, laundry fee, group class fee, etc. In addition, some gyms charge different rates for memberships that are restricted to just one club vs. all the clubs in their network. Does your contact include access to other facilities or is that extra? The monthly contract rate may not take these fees into consideration, so know what you are getting in advance.
  3. Does the contract renew automatically? It happens with cell phone companies, and it happens with gyms, too. If you sign up for a full year commitment, what happens when that year is over? For some gyms, membership automatically renews for another 12 months. Obviously, it’s important to know if your gym is one of them.
  4. How can the contract be broken? Gyms – also like cell phone companies – don’t make it easy to break a contract. Some require early termination fees. Other gyms will dissolve the contract if you relocate to an area in which they don’t have a facility, but they’re probably require proof of your new address.
  5. What happens if I move? Speaking of relocating, ask about the gym’s relocation policies. I, for example, had a hard time getting out of a contract because I relocated to an apartment 45 miles from one of the gym’s facilities. They had a 50-mile relocation policy. As if anyone would drive 45 miles to use a gym! Know it before you sign it!
  6. What happens if the gym goes out of business? It happens. And if you’ve signed a full-year contract (especially one that is pre-paid), know what will happen to your money. Will you get any back? To that end, you may want to stick with an established gym rather than one that’s newer.

Those are my top 6 questions to ask before signing a gym contract. If you have any additional tips or questions that should be asked, please share them in the comments below!

Best Tips for Joining a Gym!

Need a spot, sir?

Hundreds of thousands of Americans – and people all around the world – will be joining gyms this week to help uphold health and fitness-centered New Year’s resolutions. As someone who has joined 6 different gyms in 3 different countries in the last year alone, I’ve become something of an expert.

Here are a few tips that I use when joining a gym:

  1. Location, location, location. I spend 90 minutes at the gym, 6 days a week. That’s a lot of time. The last thing I want is to extend my time commitment with a long commute to the gym. Even a 15 minute drive translates to 30 minutes of commuting a day, or 3 extra hours a week. Creating time for exercising is challenge enough – spare yourself the pain of an even larger time commitment by finding a facility near your home, or near your office.
  2. Take your gym for a spin – during the time you’ll usually exercise. You’d test drive a car before buying it, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same with a gym. Ask for a free day pass, and then use it during the time when you’d typically workout. You may discover that the gym is overcrowded at your ideal exercise time. Overcrowded gyms mean longer waits for equipment, and thus longer or incomplete workouts. Trying a gym out will also give you the chance to review the equipment and its condition. Is the gym clean? Are the machines functioning or out of order?
  3. Bargain. Despite what the salesperson tells you, gym rates are usually not set in stone. And know that the person behind the counter is probably working on commission – they are motivated to sell you the most expensive gym membership possible. You can negotiate discounts in monthly rates, and waive sign-up fees. If you’re looking at a few gyms, leverage their rates against each other. Don’t be afraid to bargain. Expect to pay anywhere from $10 – $250/month depending on the facility and the terms of your contract.
  4. Consider a bulk purchase. Along the lines of bargaining, consider buying a full year’s membership at once. Many gyms offer discounts if you pay it all upfront. It could be a great idea – or a terrible idea if you relocate or stop using your membership.
  5. Review the gym hours and holiday closings. Is the gym even open when you need it to be? When I was living in Buenos Aires, my gym didn’t open until 8AM! As a morning person, I had to bend my schedule considerably to get my workout in. Check on the holiday closings. My current gym is closed during every holiday – even January 1st and 2nd! If you get the various annual holidays off of work, you might want a gym that’s open.
  6. Ask for a class schedule. Maybe you’re interested in trying out yoga, pilates or spinning. Most gyms include free classes in their schedules – it’s all built into your membership, so see what your gym offers!

Use these tips to help find a gym that works for you. And if you have any tips of your own to offer, feel free to share in the comments below!

Happy 2011, and good luck in your gym search!