Sweat the Details Before Joining the Gym

With the New Year upon us lots of people will be making resolutions for 2014, and the number one resolution for many people is to lose weight. It’s not a bad thing to get in shape and you are already probably seeing lots of ads for gyms, diet ads and exercise equipment. But buyer beware!

Offers to join gyms and fitness centers are very tempting but BBB® suggests historically, those who join such clubs only attend regularly for the first few months and then only infrequently or not at all. Follow these tips before signing on the contract line:

Visit the Facility — Visit the facility at the time when you would normally workout. This will give you an idea of how crowded the gym is and if you will be waiting in line to use the equipment. Be sure to ask how many members are enrolled and the club’s hours of operation. Check out their equipment and locker rooms for cleanliness. Ask how often these areas are maintained.

Check the Qualifications of the Staff — Not all personal trainers are required to be certified. Look for health clubs that hire trainers that are certified to meet the national standards. Listen for accredited organizations such as: the American Council on Exercise,the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Ask if the health club requires additional in-house training.

Tryout the Facility — A reliable health club should offer potential members a short-term guest pass to tryout their facility. Make sure the health club allows you to use the guest pass when you would usually workout. If a health club refuses to give you a trial before signing up, walk away. Do not sign up with a health club that has yet to open, even if a special deal is offered.

Thoroughly Review the Contract — Avoid health clubs that pressure you to immediately sign a contract. Take the contract home and read it carefully before signing. Make sure the contract includes all the services provided and whether group fitness classes are part of the membership. Be sure to understand the total cost, payment schedule, enrollment fee, and length of the membership.  Ask about cancellation fees and the time limit of those cancellation fees before signing the contract.

So, while a low-priced year-long contract may sound tempting, it’s best to sign up for just a few months to see whether or not you’ll continue. Remember, the weather will eventually become warmer to go outside and exercise so take this into consideration when signing up for an indoor gym.

Start your search for the perfect path to fitness with a business you can Trust. Visit bbb.org.

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About Howard Ain

Howard Ain has been reporting consumer news on Cincinnati television for the past 38 years. He also writes a newspaper column alerting readers to consumer scams. He now joins BBB|Cincinnati as a correspondent.