A New Year means a New Year’s resolution.   For many people, this is the time of year that we decide to finally change something in our lives.  These resolutions vary from quitting smoking, to avoiding eating ice cream.  However, one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight.  For many of us, that means joining a gym, but which one is right for you?  Outside of factors such as proximity to home, work, or school, it’s important to understand what type of contract you are signing.

24 Hour Fitness

With over 400 clubs in 17 states and 3.5million members, this is one of the biggest gyms.  They offer a free 7 day trial to see if you like the gym.  Recently they have been touting a monthly plan that doesn’t involve a long-term contract.  However, you usually have to pay an upfront fee (a “sign-up” fee) as well as first and last months membership.

Bally’s Total Fitness

Bally’s boasts over 300 clubs and also offers a free 7 day pass.  Bally’s requires first and last month’s membership fee and a sign-up fee.

Gold’s Gym

In over 30 countries and 40 states, Gold’s is not quite as big as some of the other gyms.  They offer a free 7 day VIP pass as well.  Gold’s also requires an enrollment fee and first and last months membership fee.

LA Fitness

Again, a free 7 day pass is available.  However, LA Fitness generally requires weekly payment instead of monthly payments.

Bottom Line

The bottom line, you can usually try a gym without any payments (though you might get a few “follow-up” calls and emails).  The problem for most people is that they have to pay a sign-up fee and first and last months membership.  This is usually $80-$100 in total.  However, many people can become enticed into signing up for a year-long or several month long membership in hopes of saving money.  While this makes sense for some, the main problem is that it is very difficult to get out of these contracts early.  The bottom line:  Read your contract.

What To Do When You Want To Quit The Gym

For many gyms, when your membership expires, or is about to expire, you probably need to give some sort of notice to the gym that you intend to stop your membership.   The reason for this is that many gyms will automatically bill you every month.  While some gyms say you can end your membership with a phone call or email, it is best to send a letter stating that you are ending your membership.  You should send this letter by certified mail and keep a copy for yourself.

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