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by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, February 3, 2009
Looking to trim your body and expenses at a health club? Your timing couldn’t be better. Considering that nearly 12 percent of all new gym memberships are sold in January and February, the busiest enrollment months, now’s the time to ask for and get a discount, suggests Kara Thompson of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). “Given the state of the economy, clubs are doing everything they can to attract and keep members.”
Before you sign on the dotted line, Thompson advises that you take these steps:
• Ask that any enrollment fee be waived ($121 on average).
• Inquire about a break on the monthly fee. Full-service clubs have a median price of $54, and the median price is $39 at “fitness-only” facilities. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but shooting for a 10 to 15 percent discount is not unreasonable.
• Ask for added incentives such as free personal training.
For added savings, opt for a pay-per-visit or monthly membership, as opposed to annual dues. That’s because members average only 90 visits per year—less than twice per week, according to the IHRSA. Meanwhile, some chains, including Curves and Gold’s Gym, offer exclusive discounts for AARP members.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of “Scam-Proof Your Life,” published by AARP Books/Sterling.
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