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New Year's resolutions probably started out as some sort of gym propaganda to up membership. Every new year, fitness centers worldwide bulk up their ad campaigns, promote "deals" and promise a better body in just months. With so many options, how does one choose a suitable establishment in which to "get physical"?

The Post points to Consumer Reports' new list of gym ratings...and it's slim pickins! Bally Total Fitness scored the lowest with a 66 out of possible 100 points, getting weak rates for cleanliness, crowds, staff, and just about everything else. They racked up 2,704 complaints in 3 years, and have been known to lure people in with deceptive advertising. At $20/month, you get what you pay for...and possibly a little bit that you didn't bargain for. Turns out the company fools customers into signing long-term contracts and has been known to destroy customers credit, sometimes suing to garnish wages! Luckily (then Attorney General) Eliot Spitzer put an end to some of their shady dealings in 2004.

Next up is the New York Sports Club, scoring a 69 and holding the silver medal for most complaints to the city's Better Business Bureau (Crunch took home the gold). They've saturated New York with their clubs, charge around $95/month, and have denied Consumer Reports' findings. Since gym memberships are often negotiable, bringing in a copy of the mag may be a good haggling strategy.

On the positive side, Consumer Reports says "Independents rule. Studios for yoga, dance, or Pilates; work gyms; community centers; school gyms; and nonprofit Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and YMCAs or YWCAs outscored most of the big chains. Usually, the main draw was value." Independently run yoga and Pilates studios often received 80 points, about 6 points higher than Curves and Gold's Gym ranked. To gauge some other New York clubs, we turned to Yelp. Dolphin Fitness on East 4th received 3 stars, Chelsea Piers Sports Center got 4.5 stars and the UWS Equinox got a whopping 5 stars. For more, here's a best gyms in New York thread.

As for Bally's, they're making a resolution too, and promising "A New Better Bally" in 2008.

Chart from NY Post.