Consumers warned of gym membership contracts

Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: read fine print

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - When the clocks struck midnight on Jan. 1, millions of people across the world dedicated themselves to getting healthier in 2013.

Elsie Omane decided her New Year's resolution would be heading to the gym.

"I just decided that for 2013 I need to start being fit again and I start shopping around again," said Omane.

Omane isn't alone. Chris Beatty from Just Fitness said 30 to 40 new customers have walked into the gym since New Year's Day to sign up for a membership.

"We have New Year's resolutions. People have been eating Thanksgiving, Christmas. They start to feel the weight so they look for a good gym to go to," said Beatty.

Just Fitness offers a free trial to make sure clients are making the right choice.

Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is warning consumers to make sure they know what they are getting into before they sign on the dotted line.

The first step is making sure to shop around for a new gym membership and that the place you're picking is the best fit for you.

Second, find out what fees you have to pay for. Gyms offer different rates and different benefits. You want to make sure you know what you are paying for and are not surprised by fees the gym might apply in the future.

Third, research the gym's cancelation policy. It's never good to fall off the band wagon, but it's good to know the policy to get out of your membership.

Finally, know your rights if the gym closes for some reason or changes locations.

Consumers in Florida can also call the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services assistance center with any questions. For information about a facility's registration, complaint history and whether it has posted a bond for member refunds, call 1-800 HELP-FLA (435-7342) or 1-800-FL-AYUDA (352-9832).

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