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YOUR HEALTH Picking a gym? Do your legwork


February 20. 2013 4:01AM
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It's a new year, and you want to transform that body of yours. It's a natural instinct. It's an instinct that the owners of fitness centers anticipate. They can see you and your mile-long list of resolutions coming down the highway. Here are a few tips for your painstaking, well-researched, totally-not-hurried search:



What works for you? Not to get too philosophical, but if you really like Pilates, you should probably go to a Pilates studio. Or take dance classes, or swim in the mornings, or go to an ice rink. If you like watching ESPN while logging miles on the elliptical, go with that.



What can you afford? If you spring for an expensive gym membership — say, $80 a month — that works out to $19,200 over the course of 20 years. Many big gyms have everything you could imagine. If you're only using a fraction of it, you're overpaying. Don't buy too much gym.



Compare and contrast: Many gyms have free trial periods, measured in sessions or days. Take advantage of this and see whether you like a particular class, whether machines are maintained well, whether the locker rooms are kept clean.



Investigate the really great deals: This is especially the case with bargain gyms or specific memberships. Check the fine print to see if your visits are limited with that super-cheap monthly rate.



Wait till the end of the month: As personal trainer Jason Anderson writes, most gyms have quotas. At the first of the month, these sales goals don't seem as daunting to employees as they do in the last week of the month, he advises. Making a commitment later in the month enhances the odds that you'll get a deal.



Bargain: When the moment of truth comes, negotiate. Ask if they'll waive that exorbitant initiation fee, or throw in some guest passes or a couple of personal-training sessions for free. There might be a discount if you bring along a friend to sign up. It doesn't hurt to ask.



— MCT Information Services






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