How to join a big box gym without getting screwed

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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:
    1. Never buy pre-paid year,  multi-year, or “lifetime”  memberships no matter how great the discount.
    2. 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!
    3. 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!