Fitness centers compete for January business

Try before you buy a gym membership

Author: Marilyn Moritz, Reporter,
Published On: Jan 02 2014 05:23:57 PM CST

It's that time of year again when consumers resolve to get fit and fitness clubs compete for your business.

Many gyms are waiving or reducing sign-up fees in January, which can be a good deal.  But Consumer Reports Money Adviser Amanda Walker cautions consumers not to rush into anything.

"You might get the best deal if you sign up late in the month, because health clubs often have monthly sales quotas," she said.

Joining a gym takes physical commitment and financial commitment. So, many health clubs  let you try before you buy.

"You get to see the instructors and quality of the programs and how staff interacts with you, and just make sure you feel comfortable, because that's the key to making sure you stick with it," said Posey Duncan with the Semmes Family YMCA at TriPoint branch.

Sophie Molak has tried several different gyms. What matters to her more than the equipment and classes is the staff.

"They'll always help you with different workouts," Molak said. "Trainers are always available if you're doing something wrong, tell you how you can improve or something new you should try."

Before you pick a gym, check with your insurance provider. Some plans, like United Healthcare, will reimburse you hundreds of dollars a year if you join and use a participating fitness center.

Once you decide on a gym, it can't hurt to negotiate.

"Ask if they'll throw in a free wellness assessment or a personal training session," Walker said.

There can be savings in numbers. Some gyms offer group or corporate discounts.

Keeping an eye out for deals on social media or savings sites like Groupon, Living Social or Gilt can save you money, too.

And, read any contract carefully, especially the cancellation policy.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.