The coming months are a dietary minefield for the health-conscious, beginning tomorrow night with those leftover Kit-Kats after the trick-or-treaters have all sugar-crashed and drifted off to dreamland. Many people resign themselves to the holiday season bloat, with oversized sweaters and the promise of salads and spin classes starting Jan. 1.

But there are a number of reasons to get a jump-start on those resolutions. For starters, the gym is a much more pleasant place when it isn’t overrun with newbies. Plus, once you’ve logged a jog on Thanksgiving morning, that slice of pumpkin pie will feel less guilty and more of a pleasure.

Many gyms and studios offer free and cheap trials for potential members who want to sample classes and locations without breaking the bank, so the only thing you stand to lose is a pound or two.


●With locations in Washington, Virginia and Maryland, Gold’s Gym ( is a widespread chain that touts a great deal for sampling the goods. Visitors can get a trial membership for seven days. It includes access to cardio equipment, weight machines and group exercise classes, including the martial arts-inspired Body Combat. Longer-term commitments range from $69 per month to a discounted annual fee of $474.

●A similarly pervasive chain is Sport & Health (, which has 25 locations in the metro area. The club’s three-day pass allows potential members to try classes and take advantage of courts for games of squash, tennis and volleyball. Prices start at $35 per month.


●There are 16 locations to choose from in the Fitness First family ( Fitness First offers a one-time day pass for potential members that includes access to classes that range from body pump to boot camp. And for those looking to join full time, it’s one of the least expensive gyms in the area, with monthly memberships starting at $29.


While yoga has many physical benefits, classes also focus on maintaining a calm mind, which might come in handy when far-flung family members descend.

Unity Woods (, started by well-regarded yogi John Schumacher, has locations in Bethesda, Woodley Park and Ballston. It offers free classes for first-timers. The Iyengar style specializes in longer-held poses and a serious, muscle-fatiguing workout. ●

●While the apparel at athletic clothing store Lululemon ( is pricey, the shops frequently offer free classes. The Bethesda, Logan Circle and Clarendon stores host free classes of a flowing vinyasa style of yoga on Sundays, while the Tysons branch practices on Saturdays.

●If working up a sweat is a high priority, then hot yoga, known as Bikram, is the way to go. Studios that specialize in routines done in tropical temperatures offer $20 passes — the cost of a single class — for new students to drop by as many times as they want for one week. Locations specializing in Bikram include studios in Reston (, Falls Church (, Rockville ( and Dupont Circle (

Other classes

Zumba, barre, pilates, plyometrics: Fitness trends sound a lot like gibberish. Relative pronounceability aside, these classes can be a fun way to burn calories. The Latin-inspired dance aerobics known as Zumba is offered at health clubs nationwide, sometimes even in aquatic form.

●First-timers can try out the fast-paced Zumba moves at Oriental Sports Academy ( in Manassas.

●Hyattsville-based Joe’s Movement Emporium ( offers Zumba classes (plus hip-hop and Monday evening belly dancing classes) for $5. Barre classes are less kinetic, but they also are rooted in dance, giving participants the chance to channel their inner ballerina with movements that target quads, calves and other muscle groups.

●While individual classes at B. Fit ( on 14th Street NW will set customers back $22, new students get their first two classes for the price of one.

THE BOTTOM LINE Most gyms and fitness studios offer some type of special deal to first-time users. If discounts aren’t listed on Web sites, it never hurts to give gyms a ring to see what specials are available. Just be prepared to get varying versions of the pumped-up hard sell.