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Exercise these strategies to save money on a gym membership

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If you’re considering enrolling in a gym but want to save some money, the beginning of the year may be the right time. There are many offers available because it’s when many people go looking for a gym.

Consumer Reports' Money Editors advise asking for a no-commitment trial. Many gyms offer day passes to try out their facilities. And if you have friends or family interested in signing up with you, gyms may offer you a lower monthly rate for a group.

Are you are looking for a gym to work out with a personal trainer, or do you want a gym where you can work out on your own?

When you find the perfect gym for you, you can negotiate a better price. Speak with a salesperson or manager to see whether he or she can give you a free month or eliminate the registration fee, especially if you sign a contract. And there could be a significant discount when you sign a contract.

The incentive to sign a contract is that you’ll save money. For example, if you sign up for 12 months at some gyms, you can save 40 to 50 percent compared with someone who is paying monthly. Just check your state laws about gym membership contracts. Some states have limits on how long those contracts can be. Lifetime memberships should always be avoided. If the gym suddenly goes out of business, you're up a creek.

And always read the contract from beginning to end. Look to see whether there are subscription or cancellation fees, and whether you need to give notice months in advance to avoid being charged. And be sure to keep a copy of the contract in case you need to refer to it in the future.

If you have health insurance through your employer, find out whether it offers a discount on gym memberships. Some insurance companies offer hundreds of dollars in reimbursement if you’re a member of a participating gym.

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