I did it! I finally made it past the induction and first stint on my own at the gym. The apprehension was awful. The walk to my first session was nerve-wracking, but nevertheless I did it!
For the last two years, I’ve been trying to decide whether to commit to an annual membership or whether I should consider alternatives such as running or walking.
It’s been seventeen years since the last time I was a gym member. The decision to go back was not taken lightly. A cross between a lack of motivation and fear of ‘not fitting in’ stopped me from taking the plunge and signing up.
My friends are all gym aficionados and provided welcome encouragement. Yet, the thoughts are still in the back of your mind – Why am I doing this? Will I look out of place? Will I be able to keep up the pace?
Where to go?
There are now gyms popping up everywhere – some are branches of larger chains and some smaller, independent businesses. With this increase in choice, coupled with a fear of the unknown, the options available can be daunting and off-putting.
A quick google search for gyms can give you an idea of what is available near to where you live or work. Through a careful process of elimination, you can find something which works for you.
Membership types & costs
Once you make the initial decision of joining a gum, you’ll likely need to decide what type of membership to commit to. The gym I opted for offers three main membership types:
Option 1 – An introductory offer, a lower monthly cost of £20 with no joining fee. The first month was offered free of charge, with an ‘opt-out’ within the first 14 days if desired. This also includes time with one of the Personal Trainers at the gym with the benefit of a healthy eating and training plan.
Option 2 – A one-off payment of £199.99 covering the full 12 months, reducing the cost to under £17 per month.
Option 3 – A contract-free membership of £24.99 per month with a £20 one-off fee. This can be cancelled after a month if required.
The first option included everything I was looking for. Additional help with getting into a routine and the ability to take two weeks to consider if it was the gym for me were the most appealing factors.
Care should be taken to ensure that you are selecting the right membership for you, which is within your budget and has the correct support for you to get started.
Always consider opening times, cost and facilities. I work most days from 9am to 6pm and required somewhere that would be open early enough in the morning to go prior to work, or in the evenings and weekends.
Be realistic financially when signing up for a contract. I previously committed to a twelve-month gym membership at £30 per month and only really made use of it a grand total of 4 times! When you do the maths, this means that each visit cost me an average of £90! A total waste of money and with nothing to show for it.
Don’t be afraid to opt for shorter-term memberships if it works for you.
When you take out a membership, you ultimately enter a contract with the gym. You should read into the terms and conditions of the membership and consider things like moving to a different area or cancellation due to ill health.
The gym that I chose has terms in which cancellation for certain circumstances is possible with evidence. This includes the option to cancel if you move in excess of 15 miles from the gym. There are also options to cancel or suspend membership if you are in ill health. The gym may also allow you to exit a contract early if you can no longer afford to pay for the membership due to a change in financial circumstances.
The signing up process was so much easier than anticipated and the staff at the gym have been helpful and attentive. My motivation is great right now. However, the struggle not to order a pizza and sit in front of the TV will still remain a challenge!
At consumeradvice.scot, we are aware that getting back into fitness and going to the gym is not easy for everyone, especially if it has been a while. We have put together our top tips for you to consider when joining a gym.
- Look for the best fit for you – Opening times, monthly membership costs and the facilities are all considerations. Think about when you can go (realistically) and whether you will be able to make the most of your membership.
- Check out the facilities beforehand – Most gyms will offer a tour of the facilities in advance of signing up. This will give you a chance to talk to the staff and see the place for yourself before deciding.
- Don’t sign up to long-term contracts if you know you won’t go – This ultimately costs more and will only demotivate you more in the long-term.
- Read the small print in the membership agreement – Ensure that you read the specifics in relation to cancellation. Things like moving to a new house can be a problem, especially if the gym you choose does not have branches in different locations.
- Be realistic! – Duration of membership and time factors should be considered. Know your limits and don’t overdo it at first! Don’t be afraid to ask gym staff for advice, that’s what they’re there for.#
If you would like more advice or guidance on any consumer matter, you can contact consumeradvice.scot on 0808 164 6000. We are open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. You can follow us on social media – Twitter: @advicedotscot and Facebook at www.facebook.com/advice.scot, Instagram: @advice.scot, or get ahead by visiting our knowledge centre at www.consumeradvice.scot.