I’m not sure what percentage of the population includes losing weight and getting fit as a New Year Resolution, but I’d venture a bet that it’s well over 50%. One of the first steps that many people take is joining a gym. When I worked for a large YMCA, there were so many people on the cardio machines at 6am for the first 6 weeks of the year that my ears actually hurt from the noise and I started wearing ear plugs. But by mid to late February, most of the “newbies” had dropped out and we were back to the three dozen or so regulars who had been working out for years. If you are thinking of joining a gym as part of your New Year’s Resolution, here are a few things to consider.
- See if you can “pay as you go” for a few times before you sign a month to month contract. Many gym’s will let you work out for $15 or so a time. If you commit to paying as you go for 4 to 5 sessions before signing a costly contract you can experience the parking, commute, staff and classes and see if you like it enough to make the big money commitment. If you spend $60 for four visits, maybe you can negotiate that $60 off the yearly cost if you decide to join. It can't hurt to ask.
- Remember that the job of a membership advisor is sales. If they offer you a great deal that is only valid for one day, walk away. I get at least four emails a month from local gyms so there will be plenty more deals to come during upcoming months.
- An annual membership can cost anywhere from $600 to several thousand dollars per year. You can hire a personal trainer for four to six sessions to give you an individualized workout that you can do at home. You can probably complete your home workout in the time that you might spend driving back and forth from the gym, parking and getting in and out of the facility.
- If you still want to join a gym anyway, see if you can wait a few months. Organizations are more likely to waive membership fees and give you a better deal when they aren’t swamped with people wanting to join.
- If you have dual goals of working out and reducing debt, look on Amazon.com for the top selling workout videos. Before you buy, see if your local library has them on the shelves. And if you have cable, you are likely to find quite a few good exercise classes on TV.
- If you do eventually sign up for a gym, see if you can post somewhere for a workout buddy or get a friend to join with you. A close friend of mine has been working out at a gym 3 xs per week for years at 5am because she goes with her sister.
Takeaway:Check out “The Costco Connection” magazine January 2012 edition for Costco members for a great article about your rights as a consumer when joining a gym. And here are a few more cost cutting ideas for getting more activity into your life. 1) See if you can rent snowshoes somewhere and get out in the winter. Nearly anyone can snowshoe. 2) If you have a cleaning service, cancel them for 3 months, vigorously clean the house yourself and save the money for airfare to some place you've always wanted to go. 3) Go to an animal shelter and volunteer to walk the dogs.