SAFE December 16, 2019 at 8:45 AM

How to avoid paying extra at the gym

Women looking at tablet at a gym

Come Jan. 2, people pack into gyms eager to start on their New Year’s resolution to get in shape. While there are good deals this time of year for gym memberships, keep your eye out for five ways gyms may thin your wallet more than your physique.

The free trial

Free trials that let you try out a gym for free are popular right after the holidays. But if you’re not careful, that free trial could cost you. The Better Business Bureau warns against sharing your credit card information with a gym offering a free trial because many will start automatically charging you a monthly fee unless you remember to cancel your “membership” by a certain date. You may even find yourself committed to a full year!

What you should do

Read the fine print carefully on any free trial offer. Take advantage of free trials offered without asking for your financial information.


The no-cancellation policy

Lots of fitness centers will not let you out of a contract until a full year is up, no matter what. You’ll be stuck paying that membership all year even if you find the gym is not the right fit for you, if you develop a medical condition that makes use of the gym impossible, or you move out of town.

What you should do

Before signing up for a gym membership, ask about the cancellation policy. If it’s too rigid, look for another gym.


“Certified” personal trainers

Another way gyms get you is by charging you extra for the service of an on-staff personal trainer. The catch? Lots of these “trainers” have not completed their certification process or may even be completely untrained.

What you should do

Before signing up to work with a personal trainer, ask to see their certification. Look for NSCA, ACSM, NASM, and ACE.


No health-history form

To help them avoid getting dragged to court for injuries incurred while using their machines, many fitness centers have stopped making new members fill out a health-history form and/or a PAR-Q-a standard questionnaire for exercise readiness. This way, instead of reviewing members’ health histories and lifestyle details so they can direct them toward appropriate machines and workouts, gyms have effectively absolved themselves from exercise-related injuries.

What to do

Be wary of signing up at gyms that don’t ask any questions about your medical history or personal lifestyle.


Equipment-maintenance fees

Many fitness centers charge members a quarterly or monthly equipment-maintenance fee on top of membership dues. This practice begs the question: If you’re paying a fee for the upkeep of the exercise equipment, why are you also paying a membership fee?

What you should do

Ask about any additional fees before signing up for a gym membership.


Get fit without the gym

If you’re looking to shed some pounds and build muscles this year, you don’t need a gym. You can download some great workout tutorials online, invite some friends over and exercise at home! There are also lots of exercises you can do without any expensive equipment, like squats, lunges, T-handle swings, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, stretches, and more. For an aerobics workout, you can bundle up and go for a walk, sprint or jog outdoors instead of running nowhere on a treadmill in a noisy gym. You can get fit without paying a small fortune.

If you need the commitment to working out that a gym membership can give you, go for it, but be sure to ask the right questions and read the fine print.

Best of luck on your fitness quest in 2020 from all of us here at SAFE Credit Union!



SAFE Credit Union has served its members with integrity, exceptional service, innovative products, and progressive technology since 1940.