What to Look For in Fitness Centers Memberships

Getting a gym membership or joining fitness centers can be a great motivator when it comes to sticking with a fitness program. Belonging to a gym gives you with a place to work out on a regular basis and access to fitness equipment that's either too big or expensive to have at home. Choosing a membership doesn't have to be confusing if you know what services you want and what else to look for in your gym membership cost.

First, Choose a Gym
Which gym you go to is just as important as what gym membership you buy. Start by making a list of gyms in your area and visiting each one during peak workout times before you commit to a gym membership to make sure you're getting the most value for your money.

Key Considerations
While the gym membership cost may be a key concern, location is equally important. That good deal you got on your gym membership will be money wasted if you have to go out of your way to get to the gym. The easier it is for you to get to the gym, the more likely you'll go on a regular basis and the more value you'll get from your gym membership.

Similarly, you'll want you're the gym to be open during times that are convenient for you. Look for gyms that fit your schedule or limit your gym membership choices to facilities that offer 24-hour access if your schedule varies.

If this is your first gym membership and you're not sure what to look for at the facility aside from cleanliness, look for facilities that offer a range of cardiovascular fitness machines like treadmills and elliptical trainers; resistance and weight machines; and a free weight area. If you're visiting during peak workout time, look to see if there are enough machines to accommodate everyone or whether members are waiting more than 10 or 15 minutes to use equipment.

Before you sign up, you'll also want to ask about the qualifications of the gym's staff. Are they qualified to demonstrate how to use all of the equipment or just to check you in and hand you a towel? Are they knowledgeable, friendly and approachable?

Gym Membership Services
Gym memberships vary from gym to gym and may even vary within the same gym if different membership levels are offered. Memberships may be as basic as granting you access to the locker room and workout area and exclude additional services like personal training, on-site classes like aerobics or yoga and use of the pool or sauna. Determine what, beyond the basics, you need and want before you hand over your credit card.

Once you've determined what you want your gym membership to include, it's worth asking if you can purchase extra services on a pay-as-you-go basis or upgrade your membership later. If you pay for a gym membership that includes classes, but discover you don't like the instructors or the times aren't convenient for you, you'll be paying for services you won't use. Likewise, if you're unsure how often you'll use the pool but later discover you want to swim several times a week, you'll want to be able to upgrade your gym membership to save on a la carte costs.

Parents will want to consider whether the gym offers on-site child care and whether the cost can be included in the membership. If you're considering joining a gym that's part of a chain, be sure to ask if your membership is valid at other locations, near your office for example, or when you're traveling and whether there's an additional fee for working out at another facility.

Types of Memberships
Once you've found a gym that offers all of the services you're looking for, you'll want to understand how the gym membership works.

Look for gyms that offer free trial or pay-per-visit memberships to start. Beginning with these allows you to try the gym on your own terms before you commit for the long term.

When you're ready to sign up for an extended period of time, make sure you understand the terms and conditions. Some gyms charge an upfront joining fee before your monthly fee kicks in; others don't and charge monthly membership fees only in exchange for six-month or longer commitment. The general rule is that the longer the gym membership's contract term, the deeper the discount.

If you're looking for a family membership, be sure to ask about group rates or other packages and whether the family membership offers all the services each member of your family is looking for.

Payment Options and Cancellation Fees
How you'll pay for your gym membership is the final consideration. Some gyms require you to pay upfront for the full contract term, while others allow you to pay in installments, usually monthly.

Most gyms offer the option of automatic payments via credit or debit card so you're not bothered with writing a check each month or caught without your wallet when you show up to work out and gym memberships fees are due.

Finally, be sure you understand how to cancel the membership and the cancellation policy. If you need to cancel before the contract is up, you'll likely incur a cancellation fee.

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Put the same amount of time, effort and research into choosing gyms as you would with any big purchase to ensure you're getting the quality you want at a facility you'll enjoy going to.

There are many different types of gyms, and prices vary from health club to health club. Before you sign up for a membership, here a few things you'll want to consider. 

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