Doing your research before you sign on the dotted line will help you from getting ripped off.
There are many different health clubs in the area, but choosing the cheapest may not always be the best bet. If you're hesitant about joining a pricier gym, ask for a free trial work out. Many gyms offer it, and this will give you an idea if the club is the right fit for your needs.
Once you find a fitness center you like, many require members to sign a contract. Before signing on the dotted line, be sure to read the contract.
It's okay to take the contract home and read through it thoroughly before signing. If the club pressures you to sign on the spot, stay away.
Pay close attention to the cancellation policy and the total cost involved in doing so.
Under state law, a health club contract cannot be longer than three years.
Also, look specifically for the auto renewal clause. You typically have to take specific steps so that your contract does not automatically renew.
Once you sign the contract, under state law, you have three days to cancel. Most clubs require cancellation in writing, so be sure to follow the steps exactly as they request.
Over the years, we have uncovered many problems at local gyms. We exposed dirty facilities, broken equipment, contract problems and several issues with the Peak Fitness chain that eventually closed down several of their gyms without notice.
State law allows clubs to transfer members to another club up to eight miles away. Ask the gym to remove this provision from your contract and instead cancel your contract if the gym closes before your contract has run out.
Under state law, health clubs are required to be bonded or have a letter of credit to cover certain prepaid contracts in case they go out of business.
Last year, the state's attorney general's office did a sweep and found 28 businesses were out of compliance, which resulted in action and settlements with the companies.