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Finding the right gym

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Look at any poll about the top New Year’s resolutions and you will surely see some common first and second place goals – eating healthier and getting more fit. Those resolutions often require one important step – finding the right gym. Better Business Bureau (BBB) has more than 15,000 health clubs in its database for consumers to search for the right one for their fitness needs. But, it’s important to do that much needed research first.

According to 2018 data from BBB, there have been nearly 3,500 complaints filed against health clubs nationwide, which is about the same number of complaints as 2017. Complaints often involve contract and billing issues. In some complaints, gym-goers have noted difficulty canceling a month-to-month contract. Others indicated additional fees that were tacked on without their knowledge, and charges that continued even after the membership was canceled.

Before deciding on the right health club for you, it’s important to follow these tips from BBB so you don’t get into a contract or billing issue:

•Check bbb.org: Read customer reviews and see how the health club you’re researching responds to complaints. If there are advertising concerns, those will also be noted on the company’s BBB Business Profile.

•Determine Your Fitness Goals: Talk with your physician first. Also, you want to lay out your goals before you decide where to join – are you looking to just lose weight? Maybe gain muscle? Increase endurance? Different fitness facilities may be able to target one goal better than another, so make sure to select which ones will help get you on the right track.

•Take A Tour: Always request a tour of the facility to make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers that will help achieve your goal(s). Check the cleanliness of the gym floor and locker rooms, and if the equipment is maintained properly. Ask about gym hours, busy times, and whether classes you want to take require an additional fee.

•Ask About a Free Trial: Gyms will often give a one-week free pass, so make sure to ask. This is a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you. Try the gym at different times in the day to see how crowded it gets at the hours you will use it.

Once you’ve decided

•Avoid High-Pressure Tactics: Don’t feel pressure to join right away. A trustworthy gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities and comparison shop. If you’re pressured to join right away, consider walking away.

•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.

•Understand the Terms: Take the time to read the contact carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises 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? Can you get out of the contract altogether and under what circumstances? Are there are additional fees you were unaware of?

For more information on making your 2019 healthier and happier for you and your wallet, visit bbb.org.

Happy New Year from your family at BBB serving the Heart of Texas!

Lauren Galley is the Regional Director for the Bryan/ College Station office of Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas.