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BBB Trends: Before joining a gym, read the contract first — consider options, expense, and be sure

A new year brings New Year’s resolutions, and if 2019 follows the trend of years past, the number one goal for many people in the U.S. will be to lose weight. After the indulgence of the holiday season, advertisements for gym memberships can feel especially difficult to ignore.

However, if you’re thinking of signing up, consider all of your options before committing to an expensive contract. There are a few different ways to determine whether or not a gym is the best way to achieve your New Year’s goals.

Go take a look

Set up an appointment with a staff member and visit the facility at the time you normally plan to workout. This will give you an idea of how crowded the gym will be and how long you’ll have to wait in line to use the equipment. Ask about the club’s hours of operation and the total number of people enrolled. Make note of how current the equipment is, how clean the facilities are, and how often they receive service.

Ask the important questions

While walking through the facility, ask about what personal training services are available and where those classes are held. Look for health clubs that hire trainers certified to meet national standards, as not all of them do. Heed the advice provided by official organizations like 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 so the instructors stay up to date on their certifications.

See if there are monthly options

A low-priced year-long contract may sound tempting, but if you’re still not sure about fully committing to a long-term contract, ask if a month-to-month plan is available. Remember, the weather will eventually get warm enough for outdoor exercise, but the membership fee will still be due each month.

Read the contract

Once you’ve visited the facility and asked about all the amenities and classes available, don’t feel obligated to immediately sign a contract. Take the contract home and read it carefully before signing to determine whether or not it’s right for you. It should include all the services provided, including any group fitness classes offered, as well as any other benefits discussed in your visit. Make sure you understand the total cost, payment schedule, enrollment fee, and length of the membership. Ask about cancellation fees and their limitations before signing up.

Joining a gym is a great way to get healthier and meet new people, and the new year is a great time to start. Just make sure you’ve done your research and are comfortable making – and keeping – the commitment.

Sandra Guile is the Community Outreach Specialist for BBB. She promotes BBB’s message of marketplace ethics through public speaking engagements, presentations, media relations, press releases, web content, and other written materials. Your BBB is located at 1 East 4th Street Suite 600 Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 – to reach the office, call (513) 421-3015.

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