Joining a gym in January: how to get the right membership for you
Whether it’s the Christmas pounds piled on, or a New Year’s resolution, thousands of Brits look into buying gym membership every January.
Gym memberships are costly, usually setting you back around £500 per year.
And many people paying these prices will not actually make the most of it. Research shows that there are nearly one million people in the UK with rarely or unused gym memberships.
Gym membership can be a costly mistake, so make sure you don't throw money down the drain.
Joining a gym and getting in shape is an admirable thing and something to be encouraged.
So if you're thinking of signing up to one, follow our guide to make sure you don’t end up spending half a grand on a yearly membership you will use a total of three times, if at all.
Shop around for the best gym for you
January blues may make you want to boldly go and buy a whole year’s membership. Don't do it. Wait and make sure the gym is right for you first.
Many gyms offer day passes, sometimes for free, sometimes for a small fee. Make use of these first. They will allow you to use the gym without the commitment of a costly year membership, allowing you to try out the gym first.
No matter how committed to regularly using the gym you think you are, first be sure to acquire some day passes to see if you like and are happy with the gym in question.
Some gyms offer free day passes for one time use - Virgin Active, for example. Others will sell day passes in bundles, allowing you a few visits – obviously in the hope of roping you in and convincing you to sign up for full membership
This will also allow you to shop around. Do one day at David Lloyd, another at an LA Fitness gym. This will allow you to decide on the gym you prefer.
Cheaper gym options
The big-name gym brands often seem the most attractive. They advertise a certain lifestyle, have all the latest equipment, and are often filled with helpful and friendly staff.
Yet for this, you will pay a premium.
It is often cheaper to make use of a local authority gym, in a council-owned leisure club. Not being run for profit, these gyms are cheaper to use.
They may not have the most up-to-date equipment and modern chic look of big-brand gym names, but the lower prices can often more than justify it.
If you are interested, find the contact details of your local council here and enquire about prices and how to join.
Gym exit clauses - a word of warning
At the risk of tempting fate, there are many who will sign up to a gym membership and not use it.
Whether you believe you have the willpower to stick to your gym goals or not, you should be sure to know how you end your membership.
If you want to cancel early, often this will cost you.
If you have a one year contract, but wish to quit after six months, you may be forced to pay the remaining amount. Be sure to read the membership terms and conditions before you sign up.
As a consumer, you do have certain rights, allowing you in specific cases to void your membership at no extra cost.
Firstly, if you are ill or seriously injured, your gym should release you from your membership contract for free.
You will need a note from a doctor or medical professional proving your injury or illness is genuine.
If your financial situation has recently changed, gyms can also be obliged to cancel your contract for free. Say, for example, you lost your job and couldn't afford to keep up the monthly payments, gyms should release you from the contract cost-free.
If you do decide to commit to joining a gym, take a look at our in-depth guide explaining all the ins and outs.
Also, if you’ve ever had a bad experience with a particular gym, head over to our free online complaint tool and tell us all about it.