Medical aids have come a long way these days in offering services that not only take care of you when you are ill, but also keep you healthy. Gym membership is one of the added benefits that are now on offer for the members of some medical aids. Although not all schemes offer this benefit, more medical aids are jumping on the bandwagon and offering gym membership contracts. Discovery Health through its Vitality program pretty much redefined the medical aid industry in several ways but it is not the only scheme to offer additional benefits. In recent years, Momentum Health, Old Mutual’s Oxygen Medical Scheme and Bonitas have also added more services beyond just medical cover.
Signing Up for Gym Membership
Before you buy your gym wear, speak to your medical aid about their gym contracts. It is not a free benefit for most members and you may have to join a separate in-house program to enjoy these benefits. For Discovery Health members, this is known as the Vitality program. It costs a small amount compared to your medical aid premium but has a wide range of offerings beyond gym membership.
These programs offer various other benefits such as lower movie ticket prices, cheaper flights and hotels and reduced rates for joining other wellness programs like for quitting smoking. However, most members are attracted to the gym membership offering because it can be quite pricey without your medical aid’s help. Virgin Active is the preferred provider for most medical aids because they have the largest chain in South Africa.
Most medical aids that offer gym contracts no longer provide free membership. Instead you will get reduced rates for joining a gym but there are conditions. It is important that you speak to your medical aid and the gym before you put pen to paper and sign up for gym membership. You may be required to visit the gym a certain number of times in a month or year to keep your reduced rate membership active. It is just one way in which the medical aid can ensure that you are properly using the gym membership and deriving the full benefit of working out.
Get a Health Check Before Starting Gym
Even more important than the paperwork is your health status. Are you fit enough to join a gym? Should you be supervised while working out? Do you need to take additional measures before considering exercising in a gym? Although you will not be refused membership for a gym contract, the gym has to ensure that you are fit enough to be working out in their premises. They also need to monitor that none of their programs or equipment will jeopardise your health by your ignorance about your health status.
Most gyms will require you to fill out certain forms to verify your medical history before you membership commences. If in doubt, they may also ask you to get an “all clear” from your family doctor. This is not discrimination. It is a matter of being cautious and is ultimately to your benefit. If you are over 40, overweight or obese, have a family history of conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), hypercholesterolaemia (high blood cholesterol) and diabetes mellitus, then the gym may need you to first get a doctor’s report verifying your fitness to start gyming.
Benefits to the Member and Scheme
Medical aids are motivated to offer gym membership benefits to its members for one main reason. Gyming members are more likely to be healthier. And healthier members means less illness and therefore less claims. Your medical aid finds it worthwhile to invest in your good health and you should as well. Take advantage of your gym membership and start working out. Just 30 minutes of cardiovascular training at least 3 times a week can help you lose weight and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes among other conditions.
Do not pass up the opportunity to get your health in check. Even with the best medical aid cover, you would rather avoid the doctor’s room or hospital ward and regular exercise is one way of reducing your health risk. As the saying goes “prevention is the best cure” and if your medical aid finds it feasible to invest in your health, should you not as well? Ensure that you visit the gym regularly, work out as directed by the gym instructors and fitness trainers and start your journey to good health.