PART I: Prepare Yourself for Maximum Savings on a Serious Investment

Americans now spend significant amounts of money on health and wellness, even in times of recession. Whether or not you are a part of the baby-boom generation, you are affected by the biggest segment of the population in history that controls the vast majority of the money and spending patterns. Health is a major part of this trend and maintains stability in the wellness industry. This is good news. It means the club you belong to or are considering will probably be able to keep in business all other things being equal…if the competition doesn’t kill them.

The median annual cost for a new gym member is a whopping $775 as of this writing (which will have most likely increased by the time you read this), according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), a trade group for the health club industry. This amount is based on a sample of IHRSA gyms. Of course, this could vary depending on your location. A nice gym in the city is going to cost more than a run down warehouse in a rural community. In my experience, the median price is pushed down by the latter type of businesses, so most of us are going to be paying more than the median if we want to work out in a good environment.

If you are going to invest money or keep investing money in a health club membership, then you need to realize that it is a major purchase. Although traditionally categorized as discretionary spending, the fact is that fitness is a lifestyle choice and requires a long-term view. This means you will be investing in your health for as long as you want to keep it. If you are 30 years old, and you want to live a long and fit life, then you might be working out at a gym for 50 more years.

This means you could spend on the order of $30,000 to $60,000 in your fitness membership lifetime ($38,750, based on the median listed earlier), plus another $250,000 in related products and services such as training, massages, chiropractic, tanning, day care, and supplements. With your $300,000 would you like to purchase a new home or a healthy lifestyle? Of course, these figures could vary wildly depending on the individual, and these numbers represent someone taking advantage of all the offers available to him or her in a decent facility.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), home exercise equipment sales more than doubled during the past 10 years, a decade in which health club memberships also saw a 63 percent increase. A closer look reveals the number of people who exercise more than twice per week remained stagnant during this time, despite increased sales. Furthermore, SGMA reports that fitness equipment goes unused in nearly one-fifth of equipment-owning households and annual health club turnover rates hover around 30 to 40 percent. Not surprisingly, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics indicate that despite increased spending on equipment, the American waistline continues to expand. An estimated 64 percent of adults are either overweight or obese—a number that grows constantly every year.

Hopefully by now you can see that the decision to buy a gym membership to invest in your health for optimal results is probably going to be more than $29 for the gimmicky abdominal machine at home or an occasional jog through your neighborhood for free. This illustrates a very important point, however. If you really want to avoid spending money then you don’t need the fitness industry at all, other than some free information off the Internet or from your weekend warrior friends. You do, however, get what you pay for, and you don’t get what you don’t pay for. Bottom line: The best way to save money on a fitness membership is not to buy one. Just like car sales, the worst auto accidents happen on the showroom floors.

If you want great equipment, convenience, education, support and training, and a social atmosphere that is far more conducive to you getting into shape than your living room entertainment center, then you probably do need a health club, or personal training program, and are doing the best thing you possibly can in reading this information first. If you want optimal health, rather than adequate health, this book is for you. Assuming you have convinced yourself of the value of a membership or a fitness service, the rest of this material will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. If you already belong to a club, then you absolutely must read this to understand the system and process you are currently being subjected to so that you can best take advantage of potential savings. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.

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