Be wary of all gym contracts

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The most popular New Year’s resolution is to get fit and healthy. This means that every January gyms are full of new customers who are ready to change their lives for the better. While that is admirable, come March, the gyms are usually a lot quieter. While it is clear that many people have given up on their resolution and are back at home the better question is what happened to their contract. The majority of people end up being a member of a gym for a year that they don’t actually attend. 

If you are signing up for a gym membership in January or any other time of year, you need to be careful. Most gyms actually account for no show memberships in their budgeting and economics. They don’t have enough equipment to satisfy their member base but they know they don’t need it either. While gyms are overrun in January, owners are confident that figures will drop quickly in March and they will continue to charge everyone. 

The key then is to know yourself and to understand the gym environment. If you have been a member of a gym many times and know how committed and disciplined, take the long term contract. You will get a great deal in January with a free month or no sign-on fees. It is a great time to sign a long term deal.

If you know that you are someone who needs a financial commitment to incentivize you to go to the gym, take the long term deal. Perhaps it will force you to keep going. 

If you are someone who has tried the gym before but is sure this time is different, be realistic. Before committing to a year-long contract examine what other options you have. Other gyms may give a discount on ten-day passes that will allow you to test your resolve. Most gyms are very generous when it comes to free trials so send an email to every gym asking for a free trial. Take note of the ones offering a week and you will likely get your first month free by attending a number of gyms.

If you do sign a contract make sure you understand the conditions. Check what the rules are if you get injured or change your address. While these may seem reasonable reasons to cancel your membership, many places don’t allow it. Even places that say they have flexible cancellation options could ask you to pay the remainder of your membership or jump through endless hoops to finally cancel your contract. Read all the T&Cs. 

Try and avoid falling for the special offer that is not that special. If they are offering something like a bag and a protein shaker for those who join for 2 years, many people who want a bag will join. If you divide the cost of that bag over 24 months you are likely being given nothing extra at all. It is likely less than $2 a week! One of the best special offers we have read is something like ‘Two free sessions with a personal trainer’. These sessions are usually terrible sales pitches. They won’t give you a workout plan that you can use after the two sessions and will try and lock you into a long term personal trainer commitment. We recommend skipping those altogether. If you don’t, get ready for that PT pretending to be your best friend every time you enter the gym and asking how your fitness goals are going. It is often better if no PT knows who you are in a gym.

Take an objective approach to your gym membership. Do your research of the area to understand what offers are available. Do your free trials so that you can experience all the gyms and test your discipline. Be realistic with yourself and only commit to what you know you will be able to do.