With a new year, many of us are taking a close look at our fitness habits and joining a new gym could be the first step in a journey to a healthier life. Rebecca Barr with the Better Business Bureau offers the following tips before agreeing to a gym contract.
"The best way to start, is to ask yourself some questions. What is most important in helping you reach your goals? Will a convenient location and extended hours help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated? There are so many types of gyms, that you need to know what you’re looking for," Barr said.
She suggests visiting a variety of gyms to see if it is a good fit for you.
"Many gyms give a free pass for potential members. Try the gym at different times to see how crowded it is and whether there is a wait for certain equipment. 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. Also, calculate the true 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," Barr explained.
When you're ready to sign the contract? Take your time.
"Don’t feel coerced. Do not 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. Read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business? Will your membership renew automatically at the end of the term? Also, ask about cancellation processes. Many of the complaints BBB receives regarding gyms have to do with cancellation fees that weren’t clearly stated upon signing up," Barr said.
BBB has a number of resources to help you research businesses to make sure they are reputable. Visit www.bbb.org.