Don't let the gym beat you before you've even started
Joining a gym should be as simple as choosing the right location and finding a gym that suits your needs and is within your budget. Unfortunately not all gyms are created equal when it comes to membership terms. Some contracts require a legal degree to shed any light on you're committments.
Following on from a recent BBC Watchdog report that looked into some of the big chains employing some dodgy sales tactics, here are some tips to help you ask the right questions before joining a gym.
1. How long are you contractually obliged to pay for your gym membership?
It may sound silly but a 12 month contract might mean you paying for a minimum of 13 or 14 months when you include the cancellation period.
2. What happens when the contract period has run out?
WIll it continue to roll over, in most cases it will be your responsibility to cancel the membership or they will continue to charge you until you do cancel.
3. What is the notice period for canceling your membership?
Often it will not be an instant cancellation, you will need to give them at least a months notice and in some cases you will have to pay for the current month as well. So if your membership runs from the 1st of the month and you try to cancel on the 5th you will have to wait until the 1st of the following month until your notice period will start.
4. Are there any provisions for you canceling or freezing your membership if you’re made redundant or you move away from the area?
This is quite a grey area so if they do offer this incentive, I would ask the sales advisor to detail any specific conditions. As an example, if you move out of the area, some chains will only cancel the contract if your new location is more than X miles from one of their clubs.
5. Do they offer you a cooling off period?
Some gyms will give you a cooling off period in case you change your mind about the contract you have just signed.
I would ask to see all of the above points highlighted in the contract, if they are not detailed on there, then I’d suggest you ask them to jot these points down on a sheet of paper so you have written evidence of it - it may sound a little extreme but it will protect you later down the line or at the very least show up the sales advisor if they are not willing to back up their sales pitch with pen and paper.
Free gym trials
Before committing to a gym contract, try out the club and see if you like it, see if the staff make you feel welcome and most importantly of all - see if you will actually use it! Most gyms will give you a free trial membership if you ask them, here are a couple we know of:
So many people join a gym with the best of intentions, going 2 or 3 times a week to begin with and then after a few weeks, it's down to once a week and after a couple months it's once every few weeks when you feel guilty about the hefty monthly membership fee that's being wasted.
A new concept in gym membership has sprung up - pay-as-you-go passes. As it says on the tin, you pay as you go, and with payasUgym you're not restricted to the one gym, you can use any of the many gyms on their website.
This is a great idea for anyone that travels a lot with work and can't commit to any one chain of gyms, or for those of you that get bored of using the same gym all the time and would like to be able to use a gym near work during the day and one near home at the weekends.