Joining a gym? BBB has advice for those looking to shape up in 2015

ID-10076388Want to get fit this year? It’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. And joining a gym is one of the most popular ways of getting in shape.

But beware: Joining a gym often means signing a contract and not all contracts are the same. Before you sign a contract, Your BBB advises you to do your research.

BBB has seen a steady increase in complaint activity with fitness centers over the past three years. In 2014, BBB processed more than 3,300 complaints against fitness centers nationwide.

Most of the complaints were about contract and billing issues. In particular, many consumers complained they had a hard time cancelling their memberships without fees–even if the cancellation was due to unforeseen personal circumstances or health issues. Others said they were charged fees they weren’t told about in advance, or that they were charged even after they cancelled their memberships.

Before you signs on the dotted line, BBB recommends getting answers to the following questions:

What are the terms of my membership? Ask about the various options available. If you join at an introductory rate, be sure you fully understand the terms and conditions.

How can I get out of my contract?  Specifically ask about how you go about cancelling if needed and any fees that may be involved. Be sure to get this information in writing.

What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of different policies when it comes to how moving will affect your membership. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have other locations nearby.

What happens if you go out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they suddenly go out of business.

Once these questions are answered be sure to:

  • Visit bbb.org. Before signing a contract, research the gym at bbb.org to see its BBB Business Review, which will show any history of complaints, customer reviews and any advertising issues.
  • Take a tour of the facility. Check the cleanliness of the equipment and the locker room area and see if the gym equipment is in good condition. Also, tour the gym at the time of day you will be using the facility to make sure the number of people there at that time will not limit your activities.
  • Do not give in to sales pressure.Walk away from clubs that pressure you to sign a contract on the spot. BBB recommends taking a sample contract home to review before making a decision.
  • Review the contract thoroughly before signing.Make sure the contract lists all services and fees, and any promises made by the salesperson. Find out what is included in the monthly fee and what will cost extra.

Now, stick to it and have a happy and healthy 2015!

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