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Joining a gym? Consider these tips first

Posted January 6, 2011
Updated January 9, 2011

If getting in shape is a goal for you in 2011, you might be thinking about joining a gym.

But there's a lot to know before signing a contract, and what you don’t know about the gym you’re interested in – contract issues, cleanliness, unexpected closings – could be an issue for you later on.

Consider these tips:

- Do backgrounds checks. Check with the Better Business Bureau and the North Carolina's Attorney General’s Office to see if there are any consumer complaints against the gym.

- Go online and do a search for the gym’s name coupled with the word “complaints” to see what people have to say.

- Ask for a couple of free visits to try out the club to get a clear idea of how crowded it will be when you plan to go.

- While there, check to see how clean it is and whether much equipment is "out of order."

- Carefully read the membership contract, especially the fine print to find out exactly what it includes, such as fitness classes or personal training.

- Also check for the gym’s cancellation policy and what happens if it closes. Often, contracts give the gym the right to transfer membership to another location that might not be convenient.

- Do not pay up front for a long-term contract. Several years ago, hundreds of people in the Triangle lost money when they paid up front for three-year deals at gyms that went out of business.

- Do not jump too quickly at offers of "low monthly rates." Often, to get them, you have to sign a long-term contract.

- Consider a YMCA, community center or a gym associated with a hospital. The chances of them going out of business are less likely.

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  • yscottfys Jan 10, 2011

    I wish that I had read this article before signing my contract on last year. My schedule became so hectic that my son and I could not work out anymore however, I found myself paying about $300 before it expired. I have learned my lesson about signing contracts for gyms.

  • yscottfys Jan 10, 2011

    I wish I had seen this article before I signed my contract on last year. My schedule became so hectic that my son and I could not go anymore however, I found myself giving this gym about $300 before my contract expired and were not using the services. I will never sign a long term contract again for a gym.

  • Lady Jan 7, 2011

    i agree with jkca. i will never pay for a gym membership again! working out at home is awesome. anyone interested in learning more can probably just google "home workouts." there's a ton of info on the web!

  • optimalfit Jan 7, 2011

    While I agree with some of this, I don't think that joining a YMCA or hospital based club just because they are less likely to go out of business may be the best thing for your actual fitness goals or would keep your money any safer. Other clubs should not be left out of the equation if proper homework is done. Finding a club that is reinvesting in equipment and keeping things updated is a good sign that they are going to be there for a while.

  • jkca Jan 7, 2011

    this is an informative article for those who are contemplating gym memberships. But in my opinion, a few dumbbells and some home workout DVD's (and some will power and dedication) are the way to go! I dropped my gym membership and started working out at home again and I'm in better shape now than I was when I went to the gym.

  • Alex25 Jan 7, 2011

    CURVES is the best going!!