Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
If you are looking to get in shape or fit more exercise into your daily routine, joining a health club is a great place to start. Health clubs offer a variety of equipment and services that will provide you with these benefits. Use the following tips to find a reliable health club.
Tips for Joining a Health Club:
Ask for Suggestions. Ask friends and family members with a similar workout schedule for recommendations. Keep in mind however, the workout regimen of your super-fit friend may not be the same kind of gym experience that works for you. Check out bbb.org for health clubs that have minimal complaints and read online reviews to see what others have to say.
Visit the Facility. When joining a club, it's important to first 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 and ask how often these areas are maintained. Gyms with high cleaning standards will clean the facility at least twice a day and offer sanitizing wipes and hand gel for members to use. Be sure to pay particular attention to the showers when checking the locker rooms to see if they drain properly. Pooling water can put you at risk for bacterial and fungal infections even while wearing shower shoes. If childcare services are important, take time to check out the area to ensure it will be a fun environment for your children. Also, be sure to ask if babysitting is an additional cost or included. While touring the facility take note of how much open space there is for stretching and non-machine workouts. Is there a designated space for exercising with functional equipment such as kettlebells and stability balls? Additionally, take note of any machines out of order and ask the staff how long machines are typically out of service for repair. 50 treadmills isn’t a great selection if half of them are out for repairs.
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 (ACE), the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Ask if the health club requires additional in-house training as consistency from trainer to trainer is important.
Try Out the Facility. A reliable health club should offer potential members a short-term guest pass to try out 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. Many gyms offer group fitness options and classes. If that aspect of the gym interests you ask to try out a few classes to see what the instructors are like. Check to see if they are motivating, and if the same instructor is on the schedule every week. A regular instructor who can see your progress will be the most motivating.
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. Short-term contracts are usually safer in case the club goes out of business or you do not use the facility as much as you expected. If you sign up when the club is having a special promotion make sure the deal is in writing and understand the cost once the promotion has ended.
Know Your Cancellation Rights. Ask about the cancellation fee before signing the contract. If you are cancelling within three days of signing the contract it must be in writing. The health club should refund your money within 15 days minus anytime you used the health club. After the three day period the club cannot charge a cancellation fee for the following reasons:
- You have moved at least 25 miles away from one of the club’s locations
- You have a doctors note stating you cannot use their services for over three months
- The club closes a location or fails to open a location
- There is a significant change to the club’s operations
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