Expensive joining fees, unexpected admin fees, exorbitant cancellation fees and pushy sales staff often come to mind when it comes to joining a gym.
But gyms are still big business and we’re spending more than ever on our fitness. In 2012, the Australian fitness industry will be worth $2.87 billion, according to IbisWorld, and 1.8 million of us are now members of a gym.
So, how do you get a good deal and avoid all the hidden traps that make the thought of joining a gym a little overwhelming?
According to AJ Wilson, the founder of www.savingsguide.com.au, you can avoid paying through the nose for a gym membership if you’re confident and not afraid to say no during the negotiation process.
“The real trick is making sure that people stick to their guns. They really need to go in hard. They need to put their foot forward and say, ‘I don’t want to pay the fees. I don’t want to be on a contract.
“If you don’t ask, you won’t get, I say,” says Wilson.
Because gyms are highly sales driven, Wilson recommends approaching them towards the end of month when staff are keen to reach their monthly quota. But, he warns, gyms will rarely be willing to give you a price over the phone.
“The odds are that you will have to go in person, but be prepared to say no.”
While gyms tend to offer promotions in the new year, Wilson says to avoid these as they’re often simply a reduction in joining fees.
“In my opinion, I don’t think anyone ever needs to pay a joining fee,” he says.
Wilson also suggests looking out for discounted rates, such as Fitness First’s family and friends discount, or discounted memberships available on eBay.
And before you sign on the dotted line, Choice suggests trialling a gym for a month and to find out what extra benefits come with membership, such as free childcare.