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I belong to a small, privately owned gym in my neighborhood. Although I like the atmosphere (I’ve made friends there and the current owner is genuinely interested in his customers’ fitness), I’ve been thinking about switching to a larger gym with more equipment. I tried out the local 24 Hour Fitness for a day and was impressed with the facilities, which seemed immense by comparison. But I’ve delayed joining because of the fee structure; unlike my current gym, which charges a monthly fee in a no-nonsense manner (a small discount applies when paying for six months or a year in advance), 24 Hour Fitness piles on seemingly arbitrary fees (an "enrollment" fee, a "processing" fee) in addition to the regular subscription fee. The company runs various promotions throughout the year — and options for one-gym or all-gym membership, etc. — but it’s impossible to get the price for what you want over the phone.

The object is to get you to come in to the facility in person so that you can be intimidated by various high-pressure sales tactics — like, for example, leading a young woman through a dark labyrinth of hallways into a windowless room so that the sales representative (the "good cop") and his obnoxious manager (the "bad cop") could badger her, waste her time and ask her a series of personal questions that have nothing to do with joining a gym. (This happened to me in another city about twelve years ago.) I thought it might be time to give 24 Hour Fitness another chance — until I Googled this, this, and most frightening of all, this. Yikes! Forget it; I’m sticking with my nice little gym for now.

Although I no longer believe in New Year’s resolutions, I realize that this is the biggest week of the year for renewed interest in exercise and diet plans. So here’s what’s available:

  • Discovery Health Channel Body Challenge 2006: Sign up to get a free eight-week membership to Bally Total Fitness, a customized online meal plan, a personalized weight and activity tracker, expert info on weight loss and healthy lifestyle (for all ages), and over one hundred recipes.
  • SparkPeople: Free membership includes support and motivation, a personalized diet plan, a daily nutrition guide, a customized fitness plan and expert assistance. If there’s a catch, I don’t know what it is.
  • also has a 2006 Challenge, this one specifically to lose 25 pounds by spring. (Take the free “Diet Personality Test” to get started.)
  • The sheer volume of solid information and support here is impressive, making it one of the most comprehensive online weight-loss resources available. You can get a free Total Body Makeover profile from Bob Greene, personal trainer to Oprah Winfrey. If you decide to join the Total Body Makeover program — or another of the various plans available (high-fiber, kids’ program, vegetarian, etc.) — it’s about $16 per month.
  • Total Body Makeover: Bob Greene’s own site, complete with helpful articles on emotional eating.

Other resources:

Posted January 3, 2006 by Mariva in health, resources

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