At the top of many New Year’s resolutions lies the commitment to live a healthier lifestyle by choosing nutritious foods and of course, incorporating exercise into daily routines. Since many individuals do not have the luxury of having a home gym, although many apartment complexes offer this amenity, each January gyms across the country lure as many people as they can with “sweet deals.”
According to the International Health, Racquet, & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), 90 percent of people join a gym to stay healthy yet more than 50 percent ultimately cancel their memberships due to high expenses. Before signing on the dotted line, there are a number of factors one should consider before joining their local gym.
Assume the deal is too good to be true
Many gym memberships come with hidden fees but promise to offer a well-kept facility customized to one’s needs. Listen very carefully when speaking with a fitness representative for suspicious wording or terms.
Don’t let finances play the guilt trick
Several people believe the way to commit to fitness involves their wallet. They think if they pay for a gym membership, they will utilize the service because they don’t want to waste money. This is very far from the truth. IHRSA said in 2010, health clubs made more than $20 billion but many people stop going to the gym after January.
Ask thoroughly about commitment
Most memberships require at least a year-long commitment but what happens when life gets in the way? Or what if one just simply wants out? There have been several stories about health clubs that “won’t allow” members to quit without a medical injury. Indiana’s Health Spa Services Act regulates membership in health and fitness clubs. The Office of the Indiana Attorney General’s website recommends “checking for an automatic renewal provision; this will extend the term of the contract unless you give notice of termination.” The office also states that members can cancel their contract within three business days of signing. Some fitness membership providers, such as the YMCA, may offer more flexible terms. See ymca.net.
What about signup fees?
“Only $10 a month” will draw in a customer who has fitness on their list of New Year’s resolutions, but what many miss are the signup fees. Signup fees can be listed as a higher price than the monthly payment. Along with signup fees are other taxes to be aware of. Ask for a flat fee when in consultation.
What’s included in the membership?
Some facilities have numerous workout rooms, while others have a pool, basketball court and fitness classes. Before committing, be sure to ask what amenities fall under the offered membership. Individuals may have to pay extra to access different areas.
Cleanliness is a necessity
With the flu season being at its worst, it is imperative to select a facility that is cleaned several times a day. Not only are the health club’s regular members using the same equipment, but now a swamp of new gym users are also using locker rooms, showers and pools.
Try before you buy
It may be hard for one to absorb the atmosphere of a gym after one visit. Request a free seven-day pass to get a feel for things.
Business operation and membership
There have been several cases where a facility has closed and members have rallied to gain their funds back. Ask hypothetical questions to the gym representative. The Indiana Office of the Attorney General states that a membership can be cancelled if the club moves more than five miles from the original location, the club closes and one’s contract is not transferred to a similar facility within five miles, an individual becomes disabled for the life of the contract or death. “If your contract is cancelled for any of these reasons, the health spa must return the unused portion of your payments. All refunds must be made within 30 days. Note: If you move, the Health Spa Services Act does not provide for the contract to be cancelled.”
Alternative ways to stay fit
While gym memberships may work for some, expenses can get heavy and as the year goes on, commitment levels may shift. Yes, gyms offer a variety of machines and fitness classes, but the decision not to join doesn’t mean one can’t still practice healthy habits.
Following are six ways to squeeze in a great workout:
- YouTube offers a variety of exercise tutorials
- Purchase a few workout DVDs
- Many Zumba classes around the city are pay-as-you-go
- Know someone with a game system? Purchase video games such as “Dance Dance Revolution,” “Zumba Fitness” and “Just Dance 2015.”
- Turn up your favorite tunes and dance with friends and family
- Some high school and community centers offer an indoor track for a small fee.