Angie's List: Weigh your gym-contract options carefully

If getting in shape is one of your goals for 2014, joining a gym might be an obvious step. But each gym has its own contract, with questions you should ask yourself before you sign on the dotted line.

“You want to make sure your contract has flexibility in case you change your mind,” Angie’s List’s Angie Hicks said.

Read through the entire contract, and don’t sign it immediately; take it home instead.

Most states have your back with specific gym and health club cooling-off protections if you change your mind. But if you’re hesitant about a long-term commitment, consider a club or classes that don’t require contracts, such as the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis.

"We really want to get members engaged right away, so some of the mistakes we see is they don't take advantage of all of the complimentary things that we offer with the membership,” YMCA of Greater Indianapolis spokeswoman Linda Martin said.

And for those of you really on the fence…

"Go with a friend on a buddy pass. You might find just buying the treadmill and having it at home, which has worked well for me over the years, might be your best bet," Hicks said.

Another tip: Ask how an injury or move to another area might affect your contract. Some gyms allow members to suspend or cancel a membership in the case of injury or permanent disability.

And, as always, check with your doctor first.