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How to flex your gym membership consumer power

Tips to make gym investment last

A new year brings new resolutions; often to lose weight.

Local 10 News consumer advocate Christina Vazquez has some tips on how to save money on a gym membership and how to find the right gym for you so you can make your New Year's resolution a reality.

"They took my credit card number and I saw every month taking my money out of my credit card.  But I really never got a chance to go," Local 10 News viewer Katia Peters said. 

That's a common story we hear about gym memberships. All too often, those good intentions of losing weight and getting in shape quickly vanish shortly after signing a contract for a gym membership.

REVIEW THE CONTRACT:

Gyms memberships often involve contracts and not all contracts are the same.

To avoid problems, read the fine print, check out the facilities and understand the cancellation policy.

Complaints into the Federal Trade Commission have included high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations about facilities and services, broken cancellation policies and lost membership fees when gyms go out of business.

"You don't want to be stuck in a contract at a gym you don't want to be at," Stratiform Fitness owner Chuck Arslan said. "The first thing you want to do is find a gym with a flexible contract."

Month to month is a great way to start.  If you like the gym; consider joining for a year. 

SHOP AROUND:

Shop around and try a few different gyms before making a decision. Ask for and take advantage of free passes to make sure the equipment is in working order. 

"Go one day to one gym (and) go one day to another gym. What's the energy like? The vibe at the hour you're going to go? If you're going to work out at 6 o’clock every day, check it out at 6 o'clock," Arlsan said.

Also evaluate the gyms amenities. Does the gym have what you're looking for? Does it have classes or offer personal trainers? Is the gym clean and well-staffed?

Other tips include:

*Search reviews

*Check for complaints

*Negotiate on price

*Ask about discounts

SLOW AND STEADY:

Most importantly, cut yourself a break.

Slow and steady beats going full throttle, thinking you're going to lose those extra holiday pounds as fast as they came on. 

"Turkey, everything you have eaten for the holidays, you think you're going to lose it all in three weeks -- that's not going to happen," Arslan said. "I would say it is a lifestyle. It is a long slow process."

Setting realistic goals will help ensure you get the return you are looking for in your investment of money and time.