We’ve all been there before. Some of us might even be there now: there’s a class in your area that you’ve heard about, and it’s something you’re interested in trying… but it would suck if you went and paid $15 and then it was terrible, or not what you expected, or not what you wanted. What a waste of $15!!!
I spent most of my time in the US just gettting by. I was definitely living paycheck to paycheck with a really tight budget and not a lot of room for mistakes or unexpected problems. If my car needed to get fixed, I’d have to budget it for 2 months OR pay a bill late. So I know what it’s like to not have the cash to burn on something that might not totally rock.
But look, there are ways around all of that!
If you’ve read Kim’s profile or her post, you might remember what she mentioned about being a ‘gym-hopper’. Now, I’m not going to call Kim a con artist, or tell you to be a con artist. I’m not. Even though I used to do this as well and that’s how it felt!
I AM going to tell you that you should take advantage of the ‘free offers’ when they come around, to see how you feel about personal training, or a gym in general. Why in the world would you sign up for a year or three’s membership at a gym if you hadn’t tried it first for a week or a month? I certainly wouldn’t. Those are odds that are not in my favor.
When it comes to gyms, there are ALWAYS free trial offers. Try them. Use them. And then decide. The guided tour IS NOT ENOUGH for anyone to make an educated decision.
But what about classes that may be independent of gyms?
Most of my experience in this realm is in the yoga and rock climbing persuasions. So I’m going to tell you what I have done, and what works.
The first thing you should always look into, before even considering taking a class, is how the class would fit into your schedule if you loved it enough to keep going. Because honestly, a class that only happens on date night isn’t going to get visited very often, amirite? So it’s important to consider beforehand if you can even fit the class into your schedule.
Assuming that the class, or a few different classes could fit into your life, then you have to look and see what the membership rates are (if they even have them). Do you have to pay per class, per month, or per year to visit? Can you purchase 6 or 10 visits for a discount? These are things to know before you pick up the phone. Because you’re going to have to call the studio next.
After you know how much this course is going to run, and how often you’ll have to pay, make sure you’ve got it in your budget/monthly expendable income to join. No one wants to even try on a pair of jeans that they can’t afford to buy, you know? I certainly don’t bother!!
Now you pick up the phone. And here are the questions you ask, when you get someone on the line:
~ Is your studio running any kind of membership special now or in the future?
~ Can I come to visit the class or try the class for free before signing up?
Asking these questions DOESN’T MAKE YOU CHEAP, which is the barrier most of us have in our heads about asking such things. It doesn’t. It makes you a savvy effing consumer. No one wants to invest in mud in the desert, and for good reason.
The best thing that you can do is sit in on a class, or try a class for free. A lot of different styles of schools do this. My language school gives a person up to three free trial lessons (with three different teachers) before asking the potential student to make up their mind of go home.
By sitting in or trying a class, you can judge how you feel about the space, the time, the teacher, the other students. Is there a guy who’s really loud and obnoxious that would ruin your flow? A teacher who isn’t there to really help the students? Is the room too cold for yoga? These are important questions that can only be answered with an initial inspection. How much would it suck to show up to a class and THEN learn that you didn’t like the teacher??
If a school or studio won’t let you do this, then drop them. Because they are only there for profit and not concerned about the students.
The third option that you can try is to look for ‘Donation Classes’.
These tend to show up the most in yoga, but I’ve also seen them in spinning or boot camp-style classes as well. You need to seek these guys out, as they’re usually not at the bigger studios. They’re usually offered at the smaller, independent studios which are just starting out, or at a regular studio who has some of these on the side.
A donation course is simple: you pay what you are able to pay in order to take the class. The general rule is this: enough that the teacher can survive, but enough so you are able to come back and do it again.
I take a few donation courses at my yoga studio. I generally give anywhere from 5- to 10- Euros depending on how I felt about the teacher. A normal yoga class will run you around $15 per class, unless you buy a month or a semester or something in advance. $15 per class is a lot to spend to suffer for an hour and a half with a teacher whose accent you can’t understand (this happened to me once at a Bikram studio)!
Normally, the donation courses at a studio are offered by teachers who also have other classes at the studio. So if you want to try out a few different teachers at a studio, hit up their donation courses first! Or, you know, call the studio and ask if they offer free trials.
I hope this helps!