Is a new gym membership on your list of New Year resolutions? If so, you’re not alone. Gyms and fitness centers experience a surge in new memberships every January. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build muscle, or adopt a healthier lifestyle, committing to a gym can be a challenge –especially when there are so many options available. How do you know which gym is the best fit for your needs? Do you understand your contract?
“Gym memberships can be costly, and it’s important to read the fine print carefully,” Jocile Ehrlich, President & CEO of BBB Serving Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky, Southeast Indiana, said. “The best defense against a bad purchase experience is research.”
BBB has received nearly 4,000 complaints this year against fitness centers across the United States and Canada. The most common claims involve billing and collections, and many arise from difficulties canceling a contract before the agreed-upon date.
Before you sign on the dotted line, do your research. To get the most from your gym membership, consider these tips from BBB:
Figure out your priorities. What is most important to you? Will a convenient location and extended hours help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated? Do you work out while traveling and prefer a chain with numerous outlets? Determine your top priorities before you start shopping around.
Take a tour. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes, and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or the availability of Wi-Fi. Ask questions, and make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability, and cost of trainers, etc.
Don’t feel coerced. Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision.
Calculate the actual costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.
Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. What matters is the document you sign, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it. What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business? Will your membership renew automatically at the end of the term? Can you get out of the contract altogether, and under what circumstances?
BBB has business profiles on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers, and gyms. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses responded to complaints. Visit your local BBB by visiting, www.bbb.org.