Choosing a Gym

Just How Much Is This Going to Cost?
Pick a number between $99 and $9,999 and you've narrowed the price of joining a gym. In other words, the cost of a health club membership can vary widely, even within the same gym, because there are peak and off-peak memberships, month-to-month or annual contracts, and several options in between.

What's this about a month-to-month contract, you ask? Well, most clubs offer them, and they have several advantages over an annual contract:

  • You won't have to lay out a lot of cash when you join.

  • If you're not comfortable with the gym, just finish out the month, and you won't feel a financial pinch.

  • Ditto if you move, travel a lot, get injured, or are abducted by aliens.
But there's always another side of the coin, isn't there? Here are some of the disadvantages of having a month-to-month contract:
  • If you continue to work out, it will end up costing you more at the end of the year.

  • There's usually an "initiation fee" associated with month-to-month memberships that is often waived or nonexistent with annuals.
Give Me Exercise or Give Me Death
Okay, we said we were done talking about your gym contract, but there are a few more things we think you should know. Here's an incident that illustrates a bogus practice employed by a gym in Brooklyn. This particular club allows you to pay on a monthly basis by automatically deducting the fee from your checking account. However, when a patron we know wanted to quit, she had to mail a certified letter. Then the gym could charge her another monthly fee until 30 days after it received the letter. In short, they made getting out of the contract as easy as settling a debt with the Mafia. Familiarize yourself with the club's policy on cancellations in order to protect yourself. Many of them require 30 to 60 days' written notice.

As a consumer, you have rights when you purchase a membership from a health club. (Remember that the contract not only spells out your commitment to the gym, but it also protects you against fraudulent acts by the owners.) In fact, most states have specific statutes that spell out consumers' rights when it comes to health clubs.

That said, we don't mean to imply that every gym – or even most gyms – is out to rook you. Far from it. Most gyms are legitimate businesses that make a profit by providing good service. But, as in all things, when it comes to signing on the dotted line and handing over a check – buyer beware!

Now that you've had a chance to evaluate the idea of making a gym a part of your life, let's take a look at another viable option: creating a home gym that works for you.


Excerpted from he Complete Idiot's Guide to Weight Training © 2003 by Deidre Johnson-Cane and Jonathan Cane. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide website or call 1-800-253-6476.

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