By Susan Hendricks
(CNN) - It's that season, again. Time to roll out the resolutions. And if you are like millions of Americans, losing weight or getting fit are probably on your list.
For many, that means working out and possibly joining a gym, but consumer advocates warn, shop around for a fitness center that fits you before you hit the treadmill.
Thinking about joining a gym or health club? Good for you, but which one is best?
The folks at Consumers' Checkbook magazine surveyed health club members in several major U.S. cities.
They found those who were happiest knew exactly what they wanted.
"The biggest problem for people is that they quit exercising, they find it a pain, they find it unpleasant, or they can't find the time. So the big thing is to figure out what you can do is to figure out what you can do that you enjoy and is convenient for you," said Robert Krughoff, President of Consumers' Checkbook.
So shop around, compare prices. If the membership fees fit your budget, make sure you look at the facility. Like to swim? Look for a pool. Yoga your thing? Check to see if there are classes you can take.
Other things to consider when joining a health club?
- Become a mini member. Ask to use the facility a few times before you join.
- Visit the club, especially during hours when it's most crowded to make sure the facility can accommodate its membership, and look to see how clean the place is.
- And when you do join, read your contract to make sure it's what you want.
If nothing thrills you, maybe you don't need a fitness center. Perhaps a park or a government facility, or the YMCA will work.
Getting fit doesn't require a huge gym.
"There are a lot of other alternatives, take a walk three times a week that may be more fun...Maybe you ride your bike to work," said Krughoff.