A reader: Now that the holidays are almost behind us, I’m ready to get fit. That’s my New Year’s resolution! I’m thinking of joining a fitness club. I want to get in shape. How do I go about finding a fitness club that is best for me?
Action Line: Congratulations on making your New Year’s resolutions this year. Making the decision to get fit and healthy is easy; finding the right health club/gym requires a little research on your part. Fitness facilities come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from specialized high-tech weight-training facilities to all-purpose gyms. Some facilities are beautiful to look at while others get the job done with a minimum of frills.
Here are some tips to get you started in your search:
▪ Determine your fitness goals. What are your fitness goals (lose weight, build endurance, increase strength?) and how will you accomplish them (swimming, weight-training, yoga?). If you have a serious health condition, consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.
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▪ Consider your budget. Make sure the monthly fees are something you can comfortably afford.
▪ Shop around. Ask friends, family and coworkers to recommend a club. Do some comparative shopping.
▪ Check out the facilities. Visit each club on a day and time that you plan to use it to see how crowded it is. Is it conveniently located? Do you like the equipment, classes, amenities (child care, personal trainers) and hours of operation? Are you comfortable with the atmosphere and clientele? Note the cleanliness and condition of the equipment, workout area and locker room, as well as staff member availability. Be sure to pick one that fits your style.
▪ Talk to members. Ask them questions. How long have they been a member? Are they satisfied? Have they experienced any problems?
▪ Interview staff. Are staff members friendly and helpful? Ask about their qualifications, certification and education. If you aren’t comfortable that you will receive the personal attention you require, you will end up not using the facility.
▪ Review the contract. Walk away if you feel pressured to sign. In fact, take a sample contract home to read it thoroughly. Does it list all services and facilities and the hours of operation? Is everything that the salesperson promised in the contract? What is included in the monthly fee and what’s extra? What’s the total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges? Keep your budget in mind and be realistic about what you can really afford.
▪ Membership details. How long is the membership term? Can you go month-to-month? Some facilities give customers several days to reconsider after signing the contract; if so, get it in writing.
▪ Cancellation policy. What are your cancellation rights if you move away, you are injured, or the club closes? Will the unused portion of your membership be refunded? Those details should be in the contract.
And, as always, check with the BBB for a report on the facility before making a purchasing decision.
Good luck with your resolution.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.