Do you know what's in your new gym membership?

BBB gives checklist to go through before you sign on dotted line

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It's not surprising, but January sees a huge surge in gym activity -- up 50 percent from December -- according to the Better Business Bureau. But before signing up for a new gym membership, the Northeast Florida BBB wants you to be prepared so you can protect yourself and your wallet.

To help you figure out which gyms you should check out, determine your fitness goals and priorities. Decide if you need a gym with extended hours, child care, or maybe a chain business if you plan on working out while traveling.

Once you've decided which gyms may work for you, to narrow your list, check out their reviews. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints. You can easily check gyms by name and location through the BBB's website.

Tour the gym

When you take a tour of the gym you are considering, don't forget to look and don't forget to ask.

  1. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that matter to you like cleanliness and Wi-Fi availability.
  2. Ask questions about free trials, wait times and whether classes you are interested in taking require pre-registration or have an additional cost. You'll want to ask about any additional costs for trainers, as well.  

Before you sign the contract

Once you've decided on a gym that is right for you, before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you are getting what you think you are getting. 

  1. 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's included in that fee.
  2. Understand the terms: Read the contract carefully. Make sure you know if your membership will renew automatically at the end of the term. Find out if you can get of the contract altogether and under what circumstances.
  3. Get promises in writing: Make sure all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. Don't take a salesperson's word for it, because at the end of the day, what matters is the document you sign. 
  4. Don’t feel coerced: Do not give into high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly and do any additional research you need to in order to make an informed decision.

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