Your Escape Clause

You've got another good reason to read your gym contract carefully before you sign. Most states provide some sort of "buyer's remorse" clause in the contract that gives you anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to cancel your membership without being penalized. Similarly, there may be a clause in the contract to cover you if you move out of the area or are injured before your contract runs out. Some gyms allow members to "freeze" their memberships for certain periods—after having a baby, after being in-jured, in order to take a long vacation, and so on. And often if you move a significant distance from your gym (usually 25 miles), you'll be entitled to a prorated refund.

We realize you didn't buy this book to read about contracts, but know this: You can often have riders added to your contract. Remember that smiling salespeople often have more flexibility in what they can offer than they let on. You might be able to

Spot Me

Always read your health club contract. Clarify confusing points before you sign anything. If you have special needs or considerations, say so and have them included in the contract via a rider.

Spot Me

Always read your health club contract. Clarify confusing points before you sign anything. If you have special needs or considerations, say so and have them included in the contract via a rider.

negotiate a family membership deal or a group discount if you recruit new members. If the gym doesn't offer discounts, you may be able to add another month on your membership or have a personal training session tossed in the mix. Remember, if you don't ask, you'll never know what accommodations you may be able to obtain.

For example, if you regularly travel out of town for weeks or months at a time, you can probably have the contract amended to account for this. Alternatively, your club might be affiliated with a national chain or organization (IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association is the largest and most reputable) that allows you to work out at another gym while you're on the road—usually free or at a discounted rate.

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