John Matarese, Don’t Waste Your Money!
More people join a gym in January than any other time of year.
Unfortunately, as many as half of those people will stop going by summer. So, before you get the urge to sign up for a health club that you may not be able to get out of, I have a consumer alert.
Ask “What If” First …
Every gym is offering deals right now. But before you say yes … Ask some “what ifs.”
Mary Ann and Gail wish they had done that. They paid up front to join a Northern Kentucky fitness club, then one day in October found the place locked tight and out of business.
Mary Ann told me at the time, “I have at least six months of training I have prepaid for … and I will be out that money.”
- What if your local franchise closes? Can you get out of your contract? Under Ohio law, if there’s another gym within 20 miles, they don’t have to let you out of your agreement.
- What if they decide to drop fitness classes, as some other local gyms did this past year? When that happened back in September, one member told us, “I’m told by the desk clerk that classes are no longer happening … but they won’t let me out of my contract, because they still have classes at other gyms.” Again, another gym within 20 miles means no contract-breaking.
- Ask what if you move, or need out of your contract for some other reason? Some have clauses that allow you to exit your contract if you get a job transfer or are injured with a Doctor’s note. Some don’t.
- And what if you want swimming, fitness classes, or child care? Are they extra? At some gyms, you can pay another $5 to $10 each session, which will send your monthly fees much higher than as advertised.
Ask first … because exiting a gym contract can be very tough. You may have to pay through a full year.
The Best Local Deals
Now that you know what to ask in advance, you’ll find some great local deals right now, including:
- Fitworks: $14.95 a month, month-to-month for the “foreseeable future,” with a $39 sign-up fee.
- Urban Active: $14.95 a month, with a $50 sign-up fee, as it competes head to head with Fitworks.
- YMCA: $56 a month, no sign-up fee, pool and all classes included, and never any contract.
- Tri Health Pavilion in Montgomery: $39 a month, pool and classes included.
- Curves for Women: $35 a month for classes.
- Jewish Community Center: $65 a month, swimming, classes, and child care included. Open to all races and religions.
- LA Fitness: No monthly specials, but free trial programs right now.
Before You Go:
Remember that a super cheap rate may not be the best deal if swimming, classes, or daycare cost extra.
And a club may offer you the best rate if you prepay in advance for the entire year. But sleep on it and think hard before you do that. If your local club closes or drops programs, you’ve prepaid … and will probably not get a refund.
So remember to ask the “what ifs” before you sign anything, so you don’t waste your money. I’m John Matarese.