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      Money Talks: Tricks of the Trade " Fitness Clubs

      Fitness clubs... great for your health. But some gyms are known for pumping up their profits at your expense.

      Every business has tricks of the trade, and gyms are no exception. There are techniques to get you to spend a little more.

      Understanding what they are will help you exercise your right to get the best deal.

      For example... initiation fees. You're already paying monthly - try to get that initiation fee reduced or waived. You can find gyms that don't charge one.

      Next... personal trainers: Useful? Sure. But super expensive. Need help with a simple routine? The gym should help you free. Need motivation? Find a work-out buddy.

      Then there's the contract that automatically renews, often at a higher rate. What you need to do is set a reminder so you know when this thing is coming and read the fine print so you know how to get out of it.

      Trick number 4 of the fitness trade: "Limited time offers." These increase the pressure to sign up. Ignore the hard sell - read the deal carefully, sign up when you're ready.

      And finally... beware of the gym store and juice bar. The prices here are likely high - and the calorie count could be too.

      Bottom line? While gyms can help you stay healthy, their tricks of the trade can give your wallet a workout. Be prepared and aware and you'll end up with a healthy deal. For more info, go to and do a search for "Tricks of the Trade."

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