If one of your new year's resolutions is to get more exercise, you may be considering joining a health club. The benefits of regular exercise are well-proven, but choosing a quality health club requires caution. The following guidelines can help.
Shop around. Ask friends, coworkers, and your physician for recommendations. Call several clubs to find ones that match your interests and budget. Check with the Better Business Bureau for reliability reports on clubs you are considering.
Visit the club at the time of day you will use it. Talk to members and staff and determine the following:
Are the hours and location convenient?
Does the club have facilities and services that suit your needs?
Are the equipment, exercise areas, and locker rooms clean and well-maintained?
Is the facility overcrowded? Does the club limit new membership to prevent future crowding?
Is the atmosphere friendly?
What are the qualifications of the staff? Do they have appropriate education and training? Do they take an interest in and assist with individual goals and progress?
Carefully consider the contract. Take a copy home to read thoroughly before signing. Stay away from clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot.
Does the contract list all services and facilities? All oral promises should be written down.
What is total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges? Do some services cost extra?
How long is a membership term? A short-term membership is usually best in case you find yourself unmotivated or the club closes.
Does the contract allow for a try-out period? Will the trial fee be applicable to longer-term membership?
What are your cancellation and refund rights if you move, become disabled, or the club closes?
Does a three-day cancellation policy apply if you change your mind shortly after signing up?
Make sure the club has met state bonding and licensing requirements.
Finally, never sign up with a club that has not yet opened despite any special discounts. And beware if the club asks for your credit card number or deposit check before you have read the contract.