Is the New Year the Best Time to Sign Up for a Gym Membership?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Is the New Year the best time to get the most advantageous deal for a gym membership?  Or would you just be booking yourself into a crowded gym rife with fellow New Year's resolution types?

Tim Keightley, executive vice president of operations for fitness chain Gold's Gym, said the two best bargain times for a consumer to make a decision to join a fitness club are the summer and the New Year.

"You actually get a better deal in December going into early January, and you get a really good deal in the summer," Keightley said.  "In the East Coast, a lot of people go to the beach on weekends, kids are home from school and membership slows down."

The drawback in waiting for summer gym deals, is that many people go to the gym to look good for the beach, Keightley said. "If you are thinking summer, you should try joining late spring," he said.

From a gym company's perspective, Keightley said gyms have an incentive to sign members up on Jan. 1, instead of Feb. 1, if members are paying monthly membership fees.

"The company is making more money," he said, explaining that many gyms offer promotions in December to have people commit starting Jan. 1.

Keightley, who previously worked for Town Sports International, which owns New York Sports Club and Washington Sports Club, said the biggest challenge for the gym industry is keeping the members who join.

"Our ambition is to not have a January sale," he said.

For those who are looking to join a gym, Keightley offers tips, such as joining under a longer contract for a lower monthly price.  But it's only worth the commitment if it's realistic for you.

"Ask yourself if you can commit to 12 months -- or, you can say you would prefer to go month to month and see how life goes," he said.

It's not only a logical time to join a gym in January because of the deals, but it's "probably the best emotional time to join," Keightley said.

However, Keightley notes that gyms will no doubt be packed with other members -- perhaps a 30 to 40 percent increase in traffic -- who signed up as part of their New Year's resolution.

"Be patient and be prepared that it's not the little quiet gym you can go anywhere you want," he said, at least until March, when foot traffic will likely flatten.

Keep in mind too that gym prices are highly negotiable. Once a fitness club has its doors open, each new member adds little in terms of costs, so prices are often not set in stone.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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