As the recent bankruptcy of 24hr Fitness shows, you have to be very careful of joining big box gym because all they care about is quarterly profits. 24hr Fitness closed a hundred US locations leaving many members who had paid in advance for a multi-year membership without a gym to use within commute distance – don’t let this happen to you!
The best option in my book are home workouts which I have been promoting since 2005 but they are not for everyone. The next best option is a locally owned gym but some people are constantly traveling for work and need multiple locations. For those who need to join a chain gym, here is how to keep from being a sucker.
How to join a chain gym without getting screwed
- The first rule is that if they insist you talk to a “membership counsellor” then RUN. This is the sales technique used by shady used car dealers (and 24hr Fitness), not well run gyms.
- Remember that they can close the location you want to use, or the whole gym chain, at a moments notice. Make sure that if they do this, you only lose a months worth of gym use. Here is how to prevent yourself from being screwed:
- Never buy pre-paid year, multi-year, or “lifetime” memberships no matter how great the discount.
- Never sign a contract that obligates you to remain a member. Some gyms will allow you to pay monthly but you are still obligated to pay for a year. No! Don’t sign it!
- Never pay more than $40 in administrative fees when you sign up. This fee goes by many names: “initiation fee”, “signup fee”, “annual fee”. Remember that if they shut the gym the day after you signup, this money is gone.
Please consider locally owned gyms!