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Gym contracts & gym fees

Joining a gym is a big decision for many people and amounts to a sizeable chunk of money each month that you will have to pay out.

Whilst the most important factor should be the facilities and equipment on offer - do they meet your specific fitness needs? - it is impossible to ignore the financial aspects of gym membership.

Unfortunately, when assessing potential gyms, people often base their decision almost entirely on the monthly fees.

While this is important, it should by no means be the deciding factor - other areas such as facilities, location, staff, atmosphere and security should form a major part of your decision.

Turning to the financial side of things in more detail, there are two aspects to look at - fees and contracts. Fees include the following:

  • Fees: When evaluating fees, remember that fees can mean much more than simply the monthly fees you will pay. Of course the monthly fees are important - typically they can run anywhere from ?15 - ?100 per month. But it's important to also look at the other potential costs.
  • Joining Fees: Many gyms have a joining fee - these can vary widely, but are typically in the range of 1 - 2 months up front. It's always worth negotiating to see if the joining fee can be reduced or waived - gyms want members, so it is their interest to sign you up.
  • Additional Fees: What you get for your money will vary from one place to another. While some clubs offer all-inclusive memberships, others expect you to pay additional charges for a whole range of services - these can include things like classes, children's activities, court time (tennis, squash, etc), or use of the pool or spa. Be absolutely clear what is included, and what is not included.

Also important is the nature of the contract. Be sure to ask about the following:

  • Contract Length: While most gyms offer twelve-month contracts, some can run up to three years. If you are certain you like the place and that you won't be moving anytime soon, that's fine, but if your life is somewhat unpredictable that could be a problem.
  • Penalty Clauses: It's also important to know what the penalty clauses are if you have to cancel your membership early - sometimes you will have keep paying the remainder of the contract even if you no longer use the facility!
  • Partner Gyms: Big chains can be good if you travel regularly - your membership can sometimes include free, or at least reduced, reciprocal memberships to clubs all over the country, or even around the world.

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