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What to Know before Signing Your Gym Membership Contract

(CNN) — One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and get fit. Joining a gym is a step in the right direction, but not all membership contracts are created equal.

For many Americans, the New Year means a new fitness routine, but when signing up for a gym membership, make sure finances stay in shape too.

First off, factor new gym costs into your personal budget. You’ll likely have to pay a first-time membership fee up front, in addition to monthly fees.

Additional lessons or classes, and things like pool or tennis court usage, may not be included in that base charge.

Many clubs offer New Year specials aimed at new members, and may ask you to sign a contract on the spot. Take it home and read it instead, to make sure you understand what you’re paying for.

The Better Business Bureau says key membership details include the length of the contract, and whether there’s an automatic renewal, as well as cancellation terms.

If you move, get injured, or the fitness club changes hands, will you still be obligated to pay? Also, many gyms will offer low introductory fees that increase after 3, 6, or 12 months.

And don’t make a financial commitment to the gym without visiting first. You’ll want to see how crowded it gets at peak workout times, and that it has the right amenities


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