Before you join a gym, make sure it's right for you.
It's that season, again. Time to roll out the resolutions. If you are like millions of Americans, losing weight or getting fit are probably on your list. For many, that means working out and possibly joining a gym. But consumer advocates warn, shop around for a fitness center that fits you before you hit the treadmill.
The folks at Consumers' Checkbook magazine surveyed health club members in several major U.S. cities. They found those who were happiest knew exactly what they wanted.
"The biggest problem for people is that they quit exercising, they find it a pain, they find it unpleasant, or they can't find the time," says Robert Krughoff, the president of Consumers' Checkbook. "The big thing is to figure out what you can do and to figure out what you enjoy and is convenient for you."
Krughoff says to shop around and compare prices. If the membership fees fit your budget, make sure you look at the facility. Do you like to swim? Look for a pool. Is yoga your thing? Then check to see if there are classes you can take.
Before you join a health club, become a mini member. Ask to use the facility a few times before you join. Be sure to visit the club, especially during hours when it's most crowded to make sure the facility can accommodate its membership. Check to see how clean the place is. When you join, read your contract to make sure it's what you want.
If nothing thrills you, maybe you don't need a fitness center. Maybe a park or a government facility will work. Getting fit doesn't require a huge gym.
"There are a lot of other alternatives," says Krughoff. "Take a walk three times a week that may be more fun or maybe you ride your bike to work."
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