5 On Your Side

Joining a gym? Consider these tips first

Posted January 6, 2011 5:11 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2011 8:15 a.m. EST

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.

Resolutions from viewers

created at TagCrowd.com

What is your New Year's resolution?