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Things to consider before committing to a gym

Research shows strength training can delay cognitive decline, improve bone health and manage chronic conditions. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — If you’re considering spending money on a gym in 2019 with the goal of getting into better shape, a good first step is to find out if your health insurance plan will reimburse the cost or discount the expense.

That’s according to the Washington branch of Consumer’s Checkbook, an organization that rates local service providers.

“We found those discount programs are actually pretty good deals usually,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org.

That way if you don’t follow through on visiting the gym as consistently as you might have originally intended, at least you won’t be paying full price.

Washington Consumers’ Checkbook has advice that might make it easier for you to become a regular at your local fitness center, however. They say, for example, that you should try out your gym a number of times before committing.

“Take them up on these trial offers,” Brasler said. “Get some free workout passes so you go a few times to make sure it’s something you think you’re going to do.”

Also, plan your visit for the time of day you’d typically go to work out.

“See how crowded it is; take a few classes; see how good the instructors are; check out how clean it is; [ask yourself if] there is a wait to use certain equipment,” Brasler recommended.

Before signing a contract, make sure you can get out of it if you become sick, disabled or relocate.

As a note of caution, Brasler warns that the entire fitness industry thrives on the good intentions of people who commit to spending money thinking it will motivate them into compliance: realize there are lots of ways to exercise for free.

“You can walk; you can run; you can find a basketball game with friends; you can do push-ups and situps in your house,” Brasler said.

Some area fitness centers that receive good ratings include:

And, even getting exercise equipment for your house might not cost anything “because so many people are trying to get rid of exercise equipment they wish they hadn’t bought,” Brasler said.

Through a special arrangement with Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP.com readers can see ratings on D.C. area gyms and fitness centers for a limited time just by entering their email address.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent, nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices for more than 40 years.


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