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Gym Jitters


It never fails.

As the co-author of The Gym Bible, it’s this time of the year when I suddenly get besieged with emails from people asking questions about the ins and outs of looking into a gym membership. You would think that flow of inquiries would be more overwhelming at the start of the year, but it’s far worse in late February-early March. That’s when a sudden winter warm-up brings that unexpected spring-like weather for a day or two—just enough to remind people that they may not be in quite the shape they were hoping to be in by March.

Before you invest in any gym or club membership, you need to protect yourself by knowing what to look for in a contract. Once you’ve found one you think is right for you—I prefer a club or gym that’s no more than 15 minutes from where you live, since any further than that can reduce your chances of staying committed to exercise considerably—then here’s what to ask when you step through their doors.

1. What if I decide to quit?

Although the laws differ from state to state, you should be able to cancel your contract and get a refund within 3-5 days. Quality clubs and gyms also allow you to get out of your contract if you end up moving away (as few as 25-30 miles) or get injured—so ask.

2. What’s the base price get me?

Just because you see a lot of equipment and flashy classes happening around you, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to use or participate in them. In some cases, certain classes, fitness equipment, or even sections of the club (from locker rooms to waiting areas) may cost extra—so make sure you know what you’re really getting for your money.

3. Mind if I take the contract home to read?

Nothing makes an unscrupulous gym or club more nervous than having their contract placed under a microscope. If the contract has things in it that may affect you negatively, a bad club or gym will turn your offer down and prefer you sign that day. Meanwhile, if they are reputable and honest, letting you read through things at your leisure shouldn’t faze them a bit.

4. What’s this month’s promotional deal?

Usually, the first of the month is when you’ll find a good deal. However, many facilities have discounts running at various times of the year. If the club says they aren’t running any specials, just walk out and call them back the next day—just make sure you’re talking to someone else and don’t tell them you were in their club looking around. You’re more likely to hear about any “special deals” they may be promoting if you simply call first.

What are some of your gym questions for Myatt? (Comment below.) And check out his 12 Easy Ideas to Help You Exercise More.