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10 Strategies for the Best Gym Membership Deal

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If losing weight and exercising are among your New Year's resolutions, chances are the gym will play a major role.

And the health club industry is taking notice, as gyms across the country roll out special deals for the month of January to cash in on your health goals. As a consumer, this makes January the best time of the year to join a gym.

Here are 10 strategies to secure the best price and negotiate a stellar deal on a membership:

1. Trials

Even if you've heard rave reviews of a certain gym or the sales representative claims it has the best equipment in town, always ask for a free trial -- at least for a day, and sometimes you can negotiate for up to a week.

Only you can decide if the gym is right for you, and with a trial you want to be able to determine if you can picture yourself spending hours each week in this gym -- -- because there's no sense paying for a service you don't use!

2. Know the contract

Many gyms require you to enter into a 12-month contract, which is a major commitment. You may feel empowered to jump on the treadmill and bench press now, but in six months, will you be heading to the gym with the same fervor?

If a year contract is too long, find a gym that allows you to pay month-to-month.

3. Don't pay upfront

If a gym asks you to prepay membership fees -- whether for a year or even for a few months -- don't do it! If the gym closes down or goes out of business, it will be a stressful process to get your money back.

Paying each month, typically with the gym charging your credit card, is the best way to proceed.

4. Special discounts

Did you know your employer or health insurance plan may offer special gym discounts?

"See if they offer some type of incentive or discount if you join a health club or take a yoga class -- they want to keep you healthy, so talk to your HR department," says Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert.

Also, check to see if your credit card issuer is offering a special rewards bonus for gym memberships, such as 5% cash back.

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