Thursday, January 22, 2009

Exercise Some Frugality

“Fitness centers are slashing fees for current and new members, and even former members, for 2009. Lapsed members of the upscale SportsClubLA (the were recently invited to return with no need to pay the one-time initiation fee, which can be at least $600, and no membership dues for two months, a savings for some of at least $330. Less high-end clubs are also offering deals. Among them: A two-week free guest pass at Bally Total Fitness (bally, which recently filed for bankruptcy reorganization but says it plans to continue operations; One month free, then 50% off the monthly membership fee, through March 6 at Curves (; No enrollment fee at Gold's Gym (; A 30-day money-back guarantee at L.A. Boxing ( ). ‘Gyms realize these are tough economic times, for themselves as well as their members,’ says Joe Moore, chief executive of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Assn., a fitness trade group. Even independent gyms are offering deals, so talk to the manager. Moore recommends that new and old gym members review benefits online or in the information package they are typically handed when they sign up. Go through the materials with a staff member to be sure you know what you're getting. Then heck, ask for a little more -- gym membership in the U.S. was down 3% in 2007 (there are no numbers yet for 2008) and clubs might consider throwing in a free month, a bigger membership discount, passes for a workout buddy, free or discounted personal training sessions or a free trial for a service the club otherwise charges for, such as a pool. Check your company benefits to see if free or discounted gym memberships are offered. Many health insurers offer discounts at specific gyms. Call the membership number on your insurance card or check the insurer's website. If your doctor prescribes a gym membership to help treat a problem such as arthritis, you may be able to use your flexible spending account -- a pretax account for medical expenses some firms set up for employees. Ask the doctor if a prescription is appropriate, then show it to the person at your firm who manages employee benefits and ask if your company will allow gym use to be covered by the account.”,0,3527583.story

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