Imagine you have rented a beachfront apartment with the intention of moving in. Months go by but you hate moving so you diligently pay the rent (made easier by your landlord insisting you set up direct payments) but you are not benefiting from it, so you swear you will cancel when the agreement expires. However, you didn’t read the fine print and when you inform the landlord you would like to give 30 day’s notice, he says you needed to have given 60 day’s notice before the end of the lease and now it has auto renewed for another year.
“That’s OK,” you tell yourself, “It’s almost January, I promise I’ll move then”. Can’t imagine doing this? Thousands of people every year do the same with gym memberships and the Fitness Centers depend upon paying members never using the facility.
Sell, Sell, Sell
Fitness staff are often low paid and commission based so they are motivated to sell as many products as possible: longer term contracts, personal training packages etc. However, the more membership options they offer the more scope for you to negotiate. Know what you want to pay per month and which added amenities are important prior to going in. Always to ask them to remove the initiation fee first, this is purely a trading chip, so use it before they do. Remember, as long as they get a sale, they get paid so be prepared to walk out or ask to speak to their manager. Boutique gyms often don’t have much margin for negotiation so always ask to speak to the owner first. Pro tip: turn the sales table around and say: “I will sign on the dotted line TODAY if you will give me…”.
It’s the Law
Since 1979, it has been illegal in Florida for gyms to sell lifetime memberships. The longest permissible membership term is 3 years and all gyms are required to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS). After you have signed a gym contract you have 3 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) to cancel. Make sure you know how much notice is required (and in which format) to cancel your agreement after the initial cooling off period.
Personal Training is Never Free
Chances are, you will learn nothing from a complimentary personal training session. They are offered with new memberships to get fresh meat into a sales pitch. If you do need help, on your next visit, ask to speak to the head trainer (or to the most qualified trainer) and pay for an hour of their time. Explain to the trainer exactly how you would like to spend that hour such as: “I want to learn how to use every machine”, or “I have a bad back, what should I avoid doing?” or “I’m familiar with the machines, can you give me a kettle-bell work out?”. Stay tuned for my future article “How to Hire a Personal Trainer”
I Got it at the Gym, I Swear
Besides public bathrooms, gyms are the most vilified common area for germs. However, contrary to popular belief, MRSA is surprisingly difficult to pick up at the gym as it most effectively passed from skin to skin contact or into an open wound. MRSA survives on dry surfaces so wiping down equipment and washing hands is sufficient to kill it. Staff who handle dirty towels, however, are at a much higher risk, so gloves should be worn. Also, don’t share handled plastic or rubber equipment such as medicine balls and mats without wiping them down first. More common are fungal infections such as ringworm, skin yeast infections, plantar warts and bacterial and viral infections such as colds and flu. Not surprisingly, the Kid’s Room is a hotbed for everything gross, so wipe down your kids too. Wipe down all surfaces before and after use, wear flip flops in the shower and yell at the person coughing openly.
Lynda Linforth has been an influencer in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. She is a NASM certified personal trainer, a Corrective Exercise Specialist and is certified in Nutrition and wrote a fitness column in Los Angeles for 5 years. Lynda specializes in weight loss, dietary fitness and post-rehab exercise. After selling her personal training company in LA, she moved Trainer On The Run, LLC to Florida. She now resides locally with her fiancé and their three boys: Moses, Winston & Zack. Visit www.TrainerOnTheRun.com for more information about her services and to view her full resume.