5. Family plans

If you and your spouse plan to join the gym together, inquire about a special family or couples rate. This way you and your family have access to the gym, but you're not all on the hook individually for separate membership fees and contracts.

6. Negotiate

Especially in January, when gyms are under pressure to attract members, you'll find the negotiation process more flexible, so it's worth being honest about what you can and cannot afford.

"Tell them your financial situation -- that you want to work out but you're on a budget and you can afford only up to X dollars per month. Ask them what they can do to make this work," Pavini says.

7. Extra perks

If you're not able to negotiate a lower membership fee, see if you can ask the gym to throw in some freebies, such as sessions with a personal trainer.

"Now if you're on the fence as to whether or not you should join, the gym will sense this and start to throw in some incentives if they feel like you're going to walk away," Pavini says.

8. Wholesale memberships

On the flip side, if you're ready to commit to an extra-long gym membership -- we're talking two years -- you can score a great deal by buying a membership at wholesale membership clubs.

"If you are sure you want to make a long-term commitment, turn to warehouse stores like Costco ( COST), which sells a two-year membership to 24 Hour Fitness for $349.99," Pavini says. This amounts to just $15 per month.

And, as mentioned, be sure to ask the gym how you'll get your money back if the gym closes.

9. Health issue

Especially in a long-term gym contract, in eight months if you become injured and can't work out anymore you don't want to be paying for a membership you can't use.

"Make sure there's a release clause in the event of a medical condition -- the gym will try to put the membership on hold, but it's better to have the membership canceled," Pavini says.

If the gym freezes the membership, you're still responsible for paying the remainder of the contract after the freeze period ends, which is why it's ideal for the membership to be canceled in the event of an injury.

10. Cancellation policy

And speaking of cancellation, be sure you know the cancellation fees before you sign the contract. These fees can be as high as three months' worth of membership dues.

There may be certain circumstances in which the cancellation fees can be waived or lowered, especially if you move to another city and are no longer near the gym. If you're joining a gym with locations throughout the country, inquire about the cost of switching to the same gym in another city.

Gamm is the founder of the personal finance website HelpSaveMyDollars.com. He has appeared on NBC's TODAY, MSNBC and CNN. Follow Scott on Facebook and Twitter.

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