Amanda Vogel by Amanda Vogel
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January is always a busy month for gyms and fitness studios as people begin or return to exercise, resolving to improve health and fitness in the new year. If you're looking for a gym or studio to join, check out these tips for getting the best deals on pricing and perks.

Find Your Fit

Before you even visit a gym or fitness studio, be sure the facility is a good fit for you. Doing so will help you feel confident about negotiating the gym membership deal you really want.

Check out the gym or studio’s social channels to get a feel for the brand; read reviews on their Facebook Page. You can also use Google to find online reviews for popular gyms, such as Anytime Fitness or YMCA.

Take Advantage of Timing

Many people want to buy a gym membership in January, so gyms and fitness studios actively recruit new members at this time. Take advantage of incentives to save money on classes or a membership. Because so many gyms are vying for your attention in the new year, you might be able to seek out or negotiate extra benefits that aren’t usually offered as part of the package you’re buying.

Get In Early

Beyond January, keep an eye out for new locations from ubiquitous brands, such as Orangetheory Fitness, SoulCycle, CrossFit, The Bar Method and more. It’s possible to get a good deal on a membership or class package when you sign up early, before the facility is officially open for business. And with franchises popping up all over the place, it’s wise to ask about access to a network of locations across the city or country if you travel.

Go For a Test-Drive

Take advantage of trial memberships or complimentary drop-ins to get a feel for a gym’s atmosphere and offerings. Some studios offer your first class for free, but it might be worth it to pay for a few drop-in visits, as well. You’ll see firsthand what the crowds, traffic and parking are like when you’d normally go; how well the machines and locker rooms are cleaned and maintained; and whether the staff delivers great customer service and what enticing amenities are available.

A lot of clubs boast the best instructors, trainers and/or programs in the city, but it’s always a good idea to see for yourself. Sample classes and ask about fitness qualifications. Trainers and instructors should have a current certification accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by the American Council on Exercise.

Beware of Hidden Costs

Before officially buying a membership or workout package at a gym or fitness studio, ask about extra fees for programs or services that interest you. For example, the low monthly fees at some gyms don’t always include amenities such as towels, parking or fitness classes.

Some studios might require you to rent or purchase extras, such as cycling shoes or a heart-rate monitor. Weigh added costs against class fees or monthly membership rates to snag the best deal, keeping in mind that convenience and/or top-notch programs may override the lowest price.

Be Ready to Join

When you’re already sold on a gym or fitness studio (perhaps a friend’s been raving about it or the online reviews have convinced you), be prepared to join on the spot. Sales associates hate to hear this escape clause, “I’d like to think about it,” so signing up right away could help you negotiate a better rate, cool perks, complimentary classes or a free month on your membership.

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