How To Choose a Health Club

Health experts Lindsay Wombold from the health and wellness program at Butler University and Raphael Calzadilla from ediets.com teach you how to choose a health club that fits your needs.

1. Health clubs can always
waive the enrollment
fee.

That fee is just a way
for them to get more money out
of you. If you don’t want to pay
it, just tell the sales rep you’re
going to join somewhere else.
You’re pretty much guaranteed
to have the fee waived.

2. Make sure you can cancel
at any time.

You may even
need to write on your
contract that “per [salesperson’s
name], I can cancel this
membership anytime with no
fees.” Have the salesperson sign
and date it. Even better, have
the manager sign and date it
in case there’s turnover and
your salesperson no longer
works there.

3. Find out when the gym is
busiest, and make sure
that works with your preferences.

For instance, if you
prefer to work out during a
quiet time but the only time you
can get to the gym is after work
when the machines are mobbed,
this might not be the best gym
for you.

4. Ask for a one-week trial
and bring a friend.

Your friend might be able to
spot problems you didn’t see.

5. Insist on a free personal
training session if you
join.

If they already provide
one, ask for two.

6. Ask how often the equipment
is serviced and
cleaned.

Cleaning should
be done daily; servicing at least
once a month.

7. Check equipment yourself.

When you get a tour of
the facility, check for torn
benches and antiquated-looking
cardio equipment, and inspect the
cleanliness of the locker area.

8. Ask about classes.

If the sales rep is wooing
you with visions of Pilates
and yoga classes, ask
about additional fees. Many
make you pay more for such
classes.

9. Find out how many members use the gym regularly.

Fitness clubs oversell
memberships in the hope
that people won’t go. If
just 20 percent of the members
showed up at one time, most
clubs would not have enough
space or equipment to support
them. Ask when the busiest
times are, and show up then to
see if the place is too crowded
for your taste.

10. Check out the personal trainers.

Personal trainers at
gyms are on commission
plus a small
hourly rate. So beware of trainers
who hound you to sign up
for sessions—they’re most likely
under pressure to make a sales
goal. Instead, get a sense of the
trainer’s genuine passion for fitness.
If he or she doesn’t
pressure you, that’s a good sign.

Plus:
Gender Wars at the Gym
12 Ways to Jump-Start Your Metabolism
Gym Myths

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