Making the decision to join a local gym or health club is a popular New Year’s resolution. If it’s on your list, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has advice to help you pick the best health club choice for you in 2017.
From December to January, gyms saw a 50% jump in membership. In 2016, consumers turned to BBB approximately 250,000 times to look up health clubs, fitness centers and gyms. The top complaints BBB received about this industry were consumers having difficulties cancelling a contract and dealing with billing and collections issues.
Misunderstandings about contract terms are common with fitness and weight loss programs. Consumers need to ask questions and read contracts carefully to be sure they know how to cancel, what kind of notice is required and whether the gym will refund the unused portion of a contract. Some contracts automatically renew unless you cancel them.
Before you invest in fitness plans, BBB offers these six tips:
- Determine your fitness goals. Find a program that you can stick with and will enjoy. Research health clubs and fitness centers at bbb.org to find a trustworthy space that will fit your personal schedule.
- Visit the facility before joining. Check on cleanliness, adequacy of space, machines and instructors. Ask if you can try the facility out before you join. Clarify what will happen to your membership and contract if the facility closes. If the facility closes, can you transfer your membership to another facility?
- Set your budget. Be sure to ask about any joining or enrollment fees. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs?
- Read the entire contract. Does it list all services, facilities and hours of operation? Is everything the salesperson promised included in the contract? What’s included in the monthly fees and what will cost you extra? What is the total cost, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
- Understand your rights to cancel your contract. State laws give consumers the right to cancel a health club contract within a certain time frame after signing it. Clarifying if the contract automatically renews is important as well; make sure you are aware of when your contract is set to renew and determine how far in advance you must cancel.
- Resist sales pressure. Many clubs may be offering “New Year’s Specials” and could ask you to sign a contract on the spot. Ask to take a sample of the contract home to read thoroughly.
For more tips on choosing the right fitness program for you, visit BBB’s gym tips page to learn more.
For more information on finding businesses you can trust, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org. To find or report scams in your area, visit BBB Scam Tracker.