photo credit: Abdullah AL-Naser
Time to get back on the wagon!
It’s that time of year again where people are making resolutions, vowing that they’re going to lose that 10-20 pounds that they’ve gained during the year.
If you don’t already have a home gym, or a membership at a local club, you’ll probably be looking into joining a club where you can work off the extra pounds. The problem is that most of these clubs aren’t cheap.
According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the median annual cost for a new gym member is a whopping $775 (This amount is based on a sample of IHRSA gyms.)
Tips for keeping gym costs down
An article I found on smartmoney.com offers some tips to getting a gym membership and keeping it more affordable.
- Negotiate: Even if the gym is having a “New Member Drive” with specially-discounted rates, don’t settle for the first offer they give you, says Cedric Bryant, who develops education certification and training materials for the American Council on Exercise. That’s because gyms are eager to get new members. “Many gyms are much more open to negotiating because there’s fierce competition for acquiring new members,” says Bryant. Ask the gym to eliminate its initiation fee or reduce the monthly payments. Or request that they include programs you’d otherwise have to pay extra for. Current members can also try haggling for a lower price. Use more attractive offers from other gyms as leverage to renegotiate your dues, for example. Or ask for any special deals they’re offering to new members.
- Tap Into Employer and Insurer Discounts: Even after you’ve haggled your way into an affordable gym membership, you may be able to reap even more savings through special employer- or insurer-sponsored discounts. Often, large companies or unions will offer discounts at a certain gym or reimburse employees for a portion of their membership expenses. To see what’s available to you, contact your company’s human relations department. Insurance companies often offer discounts through their health and wellness programs
- Make Sure the Gym Fits: Just because the price is right doesn’t mean the gym is. If the gym isn’t conveniently located to your home or office, has hours that don’t fit yours or is just too crowded, the likelihood of actually using your membership drops dramatically, says Rofling. Before you commit, ask to use the gym on a trial basis to test out its equipment and classes. Most gyms will allow first-time members to do so for around two weeks. (Be wary of gyms that don’t.) Visit the gym during the hours that you’ll be there most. For example, while most gym equipment tends to be free on weekday mornings, it’s common to see lines of people waiting to use the treadmill in the evening. Also, check to see if the gym plan offers the services you want. Prefer to work out in groups? Make sure the membership includes classes and you don’t have to pay extra. Each gym has a different policy, says Rosemary Lavery, spokeswoman for IHRSA.
- Track Down Affordable Alternatives): Working out in a state-of-the-art gym isn’t the only way to stay fit. For those strapped for cash, look to local parks and recreation programs for low-cost fitness programs. Also, some local colleges and universities open their gyms to the general public for a small cost, says Bryant. Another option: Try a 24-hour workout center like Anytime Fitness and Snap Fitness that aren’t staffed with personal trainers or much staff for that matter. (You can, however, bring your own personal trainer or the fitness centers can supply one at an additional cost.) Each member has a key card that gives them 24-hour access to the facilities. Membership is cheaper than commercial gyms, but this option is only well-suited for those who know the proper way to work out on their own.
- Sign Up for a PassBook: For yoga, Pilates and other fitness enthusiasts, one inexpensive way to gain access to a host of fitness clubs and classes in your area is to buy a PassBook. Sold by the American Health and Fitness Alliance, PassBooks allow consumers to use gyms, yoga, Pilates and dance studios and other fitness facilities without signing up for a membership. PassBooks are available for New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston, and are valid throughout the calendar year. (The number of times you can visit a specific facility will vary.) One book costs $75 plus $4 postage and handling and can be found on the AHFA’s web site or call 212-808-0765.
So there you have it, it’s time to get fit. Now you have no reason not to do it becaues you should be able to fit it into any budget. Want to workout at home? Check out my article talking about building an inexpensive home gym!