Got holiday junk in the trunk? Tips for joining a gym

August 21, 2012

Looking for a way to get in shape after gaining a few holiday pounds? Each year hundreds of consumers make New Year’s resolutions to join a health club. Although many people who join health clubs are pleased with their choices, others are not. They have problems about high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations of facilities and services, broken cancellation and refund clauses, and lost membership fees as a result of spas or clubs going out of business.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice to help you select a fitness facility that best meets your needs.

Shop around. Compare clubs to find one that matches your interests and your budget. Check the company’s reliability report with the BBB before making a long-term commitment by going to

Take your Time. Give yourself time to make your final decision, and don’t cave in to high-pressure sales. A hasty commitment to take advantage of a limited time offer may cost you more in the long run. Ask about free trials and see if there are times when you can sample the services and equipment.

Read the contract carefully. Get any verbal promises in writing. Determine if you can afford the payments and total cost. Make sure you’re satisfied with the cooling off period and cancellation rights. What happens if you move, lose your job, become sick, or the club relocates or closes? In the event of the latter you may be able to use your membership card at another facility (if the club belongs to a chain or association allowing you to use another gym’s membership for example), but keep in mind your original purchasing decision was not likely to attend a fitness club you’ve never been to, or to a new location that may not be convenient for you.

Find out if the club is suitable for you. Are the hours and location convenient? How qualified and helpful is the staff? Is the club overcrowded when you plan on going? What sorts of programs and fitness classes are offered to match your lifestyle? Are these programs included in your membership fees or do they cost extra?

Know yourself and plan a routine. Assess how often you’re going to use the club and compare the costs of long and short term memberships with drop in visits.

BBB suggests to pay by credit card in case the club suddenly closes, but don’t part with any funds before signing a contract. Finally, never sign up with a club that hasn’t opened.

For more advice from BBB on finding reliable companies and businesses, start your search with trust at