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According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, more than 50 million Americans pay an average of over $40 a month to belong to a fitness club: That’s about 15 percent of people over 16.
A fitness club is a great place to get in shape, build muscle, or get an endorphin rush. But you shouldn’t have to empty your wallet to work out.
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson reveals gyms’ tricks of the trade – tactics they use to pump up profits and make us spend more.
The fitness business is highly competitive. Find a gym that doesn’t charge an up-front fee, then either join it, or use that club as leverage to get the fee waived at a club you do want to join.
And being muscular doesn’t make them qualified. There aren’t standardized certifications for personal trainers, and some credentials require little more than an online course or fee. Ask the gym’s management about the certifications of their trainers, and look for training from a recognized institution, like the American Council on Exercise (ACE), American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). A background in sports medicine or physical education is also a plus.
And remember, as with any service provider from doctors to plumbers, everything’s negotiable.
If you’re looking to bypass the expense of a personal trainer, don’t be shy about asking a gym employee for help with a simple routine or using the equipment. They should help you free. If it’s motivation you need, enlist a workout buddy.
One of the sources of the membership that won’t die is contracts that automatically renew. To avoid this trap, either strike the auto-renew clause from the contract when you sign up, or set a reminder so you’ll know when the cancellation window is approaching. Be sure to read the fine print in advance and scan a copy of the contract so you’ll know what’s required to get out of it. And if there’s a dispute, be aware that a club can leave bad marks on your credit history – when the dust settles, go to annualcreditreport.com and take a look.
The only sure way to avoid this potential problem is to avoid auto-pay, but if that’s impossible, see the advice above: look for warnings on complaint sites, and understand what’s required to turn off auto-pay.
And don’t be in a hurry to start paying. Most gyms offer free or low-cost trial memberships that last a week or two. Use this period to evaluate the gym, as well as your ability to stick with it.
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