British Columbia

Getting fit in the new year? Read the fine print on your gym membership

The Better Business Bureau says there are number of questions consumers should ask before signing up for a gym membership.

The Better Business Bureau says many of its gym complaints revolve around billing and contract issues

The Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to read the fine print before signing up for a new gym membership. (Alpa Prod/Shutterstock)

If you indulged too heavily this holiday season and are determined to make 2018 the year you get fit, the Better Business Bureau says slow down before signing up for a gym membership.

Evan Kelly from the Mainland B.C. chapter of the consumer watchdog organization says the bureau gets complaints about gyms every year.

While some of the complaints revolve around questionable sales tactics, he says many arise because consumers have not read the fine print in the contract.

"A lot of times we find the consumer has not read the contract," Kelly said. "There is money owing and they don't sort of realize when they signed in the first place."

Kelly says gyms often use special introductory prices at this time of year to attract new members, but these deals are often linked to longer-term commitments or monthly payments.

"If everybody just jumped on the bandwagon to resolve to get fit and just quit after a couple of months, [gyms would] lose business pretty quickly," he said.

Things to consider

Kelly recommends doing your research before you join. Start by evaluating your fitness goals and making sure the type of gym is suited to your needs.

"Knowing that in advance will help you select a facility that's going to be most appropriate. Is the location convenient? If it's inconvenient to get there, you might be less likely to work out," he said.

Ask whether a gym membership will be renewed automatically and how you can get out of a contract if needed. Keep a copy of the return receipt. Get everything in writing and understand that contract.

Finally he says consumers can review the website to see whether the particular gym or fitness club they are interested in has complaints against it — and most importantly see how they resolved the issue.

There are the good ones that deal with their complaints head on and those that do not, he added.