I'm sure you can bargain with them on this. I didn't have to pay a sign-up fee but I did make a three-year commitment. I wasn't trying to bargain, that's just the deal they had at the time and I knew I wanted the membership. Based on what others in Bally's discussion forum have said, I think I could have bargained with them about the length of the membership. In fact, some people even bargained with them over the cost of personal training. Before I was a member of Ballys, I was a member of 24-Hour Fitness and also bargained them out of the membership fee. I did it by accident; I really just wasn't sure I wanted to join and they kept coming back with better offers until they convinced me. All of these clubs are offering special deals all the time, so I'm sure there'll be another chance if you decide to wait on this one. Now that I have my three-year commitment, they've twice offered to reduce the remaining cost by 50% if I pay it all off up front.
I have to say that I am really happy with my Bally's membership. I am in there 5-6 days a week, at least an hour at a time, and I use lots of different equipment, from four different types of cardio machines, to weight machines, to free weights. I never have to wait for a cardio machine even if I am there during peak hours (once in a while, rarely, I do have to use a different machine than what I was planning on using, but something is always available.) This may not be the case for all Bally's, I'm sure it's a function of how busy the gym is, but I've found it to be true at the two I've been to. When I belonged to 24-Hour Fitness, there was always a wait for the cardio machines (it was so bad, they actually had a sign-up sheet).
Because I use so many different pieces of equipment, I think the gym membership is far cheaper than trying to outfit a home gym (and I'd have to buy a new house to store it all). Plus there are the classes and the personal training. I suppose if you only use one or two pieces of equipment, it would be cheaper to buy it and use it a home (assuming you have space for it, which I definitely don't). But if you want to use a variety of equipment and do other things, like take classes or personal training, then I think a gym membership is the way to go. I credit my personal trainer at Bally's as being the number factor in my success at weight loss--I swear, I could be a commercial for them.
My Before and After Pics
"Decide what you want; decide what you're willing to exchange for it; establish your priorities, and go to work." --H.L. Hunt
"Life has hills. Set the treadmill at an incline."