Read this before signing up for gym membership

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jan 20 2020 09:45 AM

Year after year, one of the most popular resolutions is losing weight. Maybe it has to do with how much people indulged themselves at holiday parties so they can’t help feeling guilty as they welcome the new year. Or all those reunions where family and friends comment on how you look has made you decide to get in better shape.

With 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions reported to fail by February, if you did commit to this resolution, it’s time you make a move.

If you have yet to say yes to a resolution for an improved you when we welcomed 2020, well, the Chinese New Year is just around the corner. But while a healthier, fitter you can only be a great thing, here are some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to paying for gym membership.
 
#1 The best gyms in life are free.

You may be excited to start and have started shopping for fitness wear. Friends are suggesting you try this gym and that. I suggest you check first if you can get your exercise hour for free. Many employers these days encourage wellness among their staff and offer gym hours at their offices or have partnerships with fitness chains or will subsidize your gym fees. If there’s none, look around for free trials. If a gym is good enough, they should be willing to give you a trial session or two or three.

#2 As with prime real estate, it’s all about location.

The road to failure is paved with good intentions, and you don’t want this for your resolution. You may like a certain gym but if it’s a bit far from your work or home, or parking will pose a problem, or it’s right in the middle of a high traffic zone, look elsewhere. While you may be willing to overlook all these for now, chances are a few sessions later, you will realize your mistake, and then start making excuses why you cannot go. At least 90 percent of your success rate will have to do with convenience. If the gym is a short walk away, and you cannot miss it on the way to and from work, that’s more than half the battle won.

#3 Hold on to your plastic.

Did you know that at one time, majority of credit card complaints were about gym membership fees? At the height of the fitness craze, people were signing up for annual membership and then quitting a few months later. To their surprise, it was not easy cutting the fitness cord. Each month, their credit card bill will come and the monthly fee would still be there. They would get mad at the credit card company but there’s a signed form allowing the merchant (in this case the gym) and the credit card issuer to charge them an agreed rate for 12 months.

If you are just trying out the gym or exercise for that matter, best to pay in cash. This way there is no messy credit card divorce in your future. You’ll find that some gyms do not allow that at all – they want your credit card details or no business. That’s a bit suspicious to me, and I would jog away.

#4 Resist the pitch.

When I started checking out and calling around gyms in Metro Manila, I thought it would be a short chat. Was I wrong. The pitch went on and on about their promotions and rates and services. I didn’t think I would be able to leave the place without a membership! Even on the phone, they wanted personal details before they will share their information. In fact, only one fitness chain publishes their gym membership rates on their website (that’s Fitness First). For the rest, you’ll have to go and ask them the questions yourself. While others would give you some idea over the phone (Gold’s Gym and Anytime Fitness), one refused and said it is against their policy (Slimmer’s World).

How did I escape without signing anything? Be firm and tell them you are still shopping. Promise to call back if you decide to pursue with them but that day is not today.

#5 Read the fine print.

Once you know the gyms in your area and their costs and offers, time to read the fine print. Believe me, this will save you a lot of money down the line. Not all who want to be fit can commit to a full year workout regimen. So while it may seem a whole lot cheaper to sign up for 12 months, you could be throwing your money away for many of those months. Promotional rates are usually non-refundable and your only way out could be to ask for a “freeze”. That means asking the gym to out a hold on your running membership for a few weeks or a few months. But they will ask you for a good reason and for some, the only acceptable ones are medical conditions or extended travel. Another will only allow use of “freeze” one time during the life of a contract.

#6 Take the 30-day challenge.

Studies have shown that it takes nearly a month to form a habit. So if you want a good habit – like exercise – to permanently become part of your system, make sure to do it for 30 days. If you can try a gym membership only for this period, go for it. You can discover if exercise is something you will be able to make time for, or not. If not, look for other exercise that you can squeeze into your lifestyle like walking or jogging with friends, or biking in safe lanes. The truth is promotions come and go. If you miss one today, chances are there would be another one tomorrow. But money gone, well that’s money gone.

#7 All great bodies start with a single workout.

Once you have done your homework and scouted the gyms, time to hit one and hopefully keep to a manageable schedule for 30 days. Do not expect wonders from one workout. Maybe you’ll feel great while doing it, and then wake up sore the next day, and the next. Physical therapists will tell you to get back to the gym, while your natural tendency is to wait until you are recovered. Muscle soreness will become your new companion as you push your body. This is your new reality, but with your commitment, it will be a healthier one.

Data compiled by the columnist from personal and phone interviews with representatives plus company websites

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.