Are you one of the many who pledged, when the clock struck midnight on January 1st to lose weight and join a gym? Before you sign up be sure you take precautions, consumer agencies are flooded with complaints about health clubs. The experts at the Massachusetts Society of CPAs (MSCPA) recommend you ask these five questions to any gym or health club before you join. You want to make sure your wallet isn't the one getting the the work out !
Can I Start On a Trial Basis?
Many people join health clubs with great intentions, but they find that they don’t really use the facility as much as they thought they would. With that possibility in mind, ask if you can try out the club for a week or more to see if you like working out there and if it’s convenient for you. In the same vein, when it comes time to sign a contract, don’t automatically accept a one-year membership. Instead, ask if you can join for a shorter period so you’re not committed to paying for months of membership that you may not actually use.
Can I Have Some Time to Read the Contract?
There should be no need to sign a contract on the same day that you first visit the facility, so don’t feel pressured to do so. Instead, take the paperwork home and read it over to be sure you understand what you’re agreeing to. Make certain that the details in the contract match any promises made during your visit. If you have any nagging doubts about joining, check to see if the contract allows a grace period in which you can change your mind without violating the agreement. Educate yourself about the club’s cancellation policy. Will you be able to get your money back if you are injured, move out of the area or can no longer use the facility for some other reason?
How Busy Is It?
If the gym has no limits on the number of members who can join, it could become a very busy place after work or on weekends. Try to visit during peak hours to find out whether there are lines or sign-up sheets for the equipment you want to use or if classes you plan to take fill up early. Make sure you know the hours of operation, too, to confirm that they are convenient to your schedule.
What’s Included in Membership?
In addition to the basic gym equipment or classes, what other options do you want as part of your membership? Many health clubs provide nursery facilities where members’ children are cared for while they work out. If a club is part of a chain, you may be able to use other facilities under the same management. Before you begin to visit clubs, think about which extras you are seeking and find out if the gym offers them.
What’s the Club’s Reputation?
It’s a good idea to talk to friends or neighbors who use the facility to see if they are satisfied, but don’t stop there. In addition, contact the local Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office to see if there have been any complaints made about this club. If they have received reports from dissatisfied customers, find out what kinds of problems have arisen.