Don't Waste Your Money: 4 things to ask before joining a gym - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Don't Waste Your Money: 4 things to ask before joining a gym

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(Toledo News Now) -

Thinking of joining a gym to shed some holiday weight? Many people make some very common mistakes this time of year when they sign a gym contract.

January is the biggest month of the year for health club sign-ups, as millions of Americans try to lose those pounds put on over the holiday. But before you grab what appears to be a great offer from a gym, we have four things you need to know that could prevent you from paying more than you expected.

Discounts Everywhere Right Now

Gyms and health clubs are all making pitches this month with super deals to get you to join. But many of the folks we spoke with have either heard gym horror stories, or have had a bad gym experience personally, like Susie Grau did.

"They signed me up for a personal trainer," Grau said, "and the person was never around. And when I tried to get out of it, it cost me $250 to get out of the contract."

Kelly Gray also regrets locking into a year-long contract.

"I would prefer going on a month-by-month basis," Gray said, "Because I obviously don't use it as much as I should."

The financial website Credit says many gyms are experts at signing you up, but are terrible when you try to cancel.

What To Know Before Joining

So before you sign any contract, the report says:

-Ask about penalties you may face if you cancel your membership early.

-Don't believe verbal promises about classes, child care, or anything else.  If it is not written in the contract, it's worthless.

-Pay the bill monthly by check or credit card. If you give a gym your checking account number, billing can continue long after you try to cancel.
    
Consumer Reports also has some great advice:    

-Before you commit to a contract, ask if you can try the gym free for a week. Then, negotiate for an even better rate.
 
Consumer Reports also says keep an eye out for gym deals on social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter. Plus, look for offers on saving sites, like Groupon, Living Social and Gilt.

Finally, look hard for gyms that will let you go month to month.

More than half of all people who join a gym in January drop out by May. But if you're under contract you have to pay until the end of the year.

Ask tough questions, so you don't waste your money.

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