What’s the #1 New Year’s Resolution? Getting in shape! Yesterday I spoke on ABC News Now about tips for buying a gym membership so you can lose weight without losing your shirt. Here’s a clip of the segment and a recap of the tips below.
- Try before you buy. Major chains like LA Fitness, Gold’s, 24 Hour Fitness offer one- or two-week trial passes; even if it’s not advertised, ask for one–and sometimes, they’ll match competitor’s trial offers. (Sidenote: Even with major chains, individual locations might owned by franchisees so there’s more room to negotiate than you might think!). You can get crafty by “trying” 3-4 places over the next month and pay nothing till February.
- Know what you’re looking for. You’re more likely to go to a gym that fits your lifestyle and personality. First, don’t choose someplace that’s more than 10 min from your house or office– you won’t go! Think about: Do you need someplace w multiple locations? Childcare? A great pool? Also, test a gym during the hours you’ll actually go. Ask in-the-know friends/colleagues what the “vibe” is like at certain area gyms (where’s the great “singles” gym?). Take a few classes to evaluate if the teachers are up to par. These are lifestyle factors to consider when gym shopping.
- Take advantage of promos. Ask about special promotions, but first check your employee benefits because a big way to save is through corporate and group rates that aren’t always advertised. Existing members should look into whether their gym offers a refer-a-friend program, which can shave $10 or more off monthly dues, or get you a free personal training session/free month. (And if they don’t offer one, try to negotiate it!) Also, family or married couple discounts are easy ways to shave hundreds of dollars off gym fees — and get initiation fees waived.
- Don’t get locked in. This is how most people lose their money: you get the lowest “monthly rate” by pre-paying for a year or more. Don’t do it! Always choose month-to-month memberships—with, say, a 30-day cancellation policy. Nothing is a bargain if you don’t show up.
- Get a special deal online. You may have the best of intentions, but statistically most “resolution” folks quit by March! So, set yourself up for success by signing up for a month-long boot camp or short-term deal on sites like groupon.com and halfoffdepot.com. My gym, for example, was just on halfoffdepot.com the other day offering for $45 one month of gym usage plus 4 personal training sessions (usual cost: $330)! Often there are major deals for limited-term gym memberships, or a finite number of pilates/yoga/dance classes—which is just what most people need to get a jump start on healthy living–without committing major bucks.