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Yes, it's true: you can't put a price on your health. But that doesn't mean you should let some muscle-head sales associate at your local gym nickel-and-dime you into an astronomically expensive gym contract.  Next time you consider joining a gym, pump up your negotiation skills with these easy tips:

Leave your wallet at home. Gyms are notorious for the fast-talking, hard sell. Sales associates know that they if they don't sign you the first day you check out the gym, the less likely you are to ever come back. When you meet with a sales associate, assertively state that you left your wallet at home. This way the sales associate will back off on his sale pitch and you will be able to check out the gym facilities without the stress of someone trying to shove a contract and pen in your hand.

Try before your buy.  You wouldn't buy a car without taking it for a test drive, would you?  A gym membership is no different.  Do not join a gym that won't let you try it out for free before joining.

Be wary of "One Day Only!" specials.  If your sales associate tells you that you must sign up today to lock in the lowest price of the year, then he's most likely lying. Come on, what are the odds that you just happened to check out the gym on the one day of the year that the gym was offering the lowest membership price of the year?

Don't join a gym in January. Gyms raise membership prices in January to take advantage of all those people with New Year's resolutions to lose weight. If you wait until March, then you are more likely to score a more favorable membership rate.

Do not sign a long term contract. Gyms want to lock you into a multi-year contract. While these long term contracts may break down to a lower monthly rate than a month-to-month contract, don't overestimate your motivation level. You are better off signing a month-to-month contract with no long term commitment.

Read the fine print.  What happens if you get injured, move, or want to cancel your contract? Can you freeze your membership if you go on a work trip for a month? Can you use other branches of the gym in your city? Make sure to read every single word in the contract before you sign on the dotted line.

The 72 hour rule. In most states, even if you sign a contract, you have up to 72 hours from signing it to cancel the contract and not be obligated to its terms. In other words, you have 72 hours after you sign to change your mind.

Ditch the gym! You don't need a gym to work out.  Lace up your sneakers and go for a walk or jog outside.  If it's cold or dark outside, consider trekking up and down the stairs in your office or apartment building or doing laps around your local mall. Your public library is also a great resource for free exercise video rentals.

This has been a guest post by Lisa from Miami, FL
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