The Cutting Edge: Getting the Most From Your Gym

Making sure you get the workout and not your wallet

have to take all that into consideration when looking at the cost factor,” she adds.

Do your research. Knowing the history of a fitness or health center before you join or even visit can be crucial in avoiding headaches. Contact your local consumer protection office, state attorney general, or Better Business Bureau to find out whether they have received any complaints about the business. Also, a simple Google search can yield some useful information about a particular company. Look at message boards to see if there are any common gripes and praises.

See a doctor. Before going to the gym or starting any weight loss program experts recommend getting clearance from your primary care physician. “You need to find out if you have any medical conditions that would prevent you from joining a particular program and whether or not a particular program is able to meet your needs,” Riggs-Brown says.

Think about convenience. Sure, the gym looks nice and the muscular arms of that eye candy of a personal trainer can be a great motivator, but if a training center is out of the way or has inflexible hours then you can consider your membership money misspent. “People spend thousands of dollars on packages and they find out they can’t fit it in the schedule the way they’d like to,” says Andrus. Brown-Riggs suggests weight loss centers and gyms should be close to home or work. “The first thing to consider is proximity,” she says. With so many excuses not to exercise – too tired, too busy, don’t want to mess up your hair, etc. — you don’t want to distance to add to the list.

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Prices and packages are not set in stone, and with this ailing economy, people are cutting back on luxury items and that includes gym membership. “Some [gyms] will let you go month-to-month instead of a whole year,” says Andrus. “Find out other deals going on. If they’re not willing to come down in the price of a monthly membership, ask for extra training sessions or coupons that they have at the gym store,” she says. But she cautions against signing up in January.. “It’s the classic [New Year’s] resolution, there’s always a peak in registration from January to March,” which means companies are less likely to be flexible with membership deals during this period.

Know your history. Before signing up to any weight loss program think about what has and hasn’t worked in the past, says Andrus. “If you sign up to the South Beach Diet plan and don’t cook, that’s not good choice,” she says. “How realistic are your diet plans?” Andrus also recommends looking for programs that include support networks. There are also online support networks including Ediets.com CalorieKing.com and a host of online communities and chartrooms.

There’s no quick fix. Say no to diet pills “The thing you really need to be aware of are any places selling you supplements or pushing some sort of weight loss pill,” she says. “If an experienced nutritionist

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