Angie's List Report: Read that Gym Contract

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Updated: 1/02/2014 10:47 pm

Getting in shape is always a popular New Year’s resolution. One way to do that is by joining a gym. But you may be asked to sign a contract.

In this Angie’s List report, questions you should ask yourself before signing the dotted line.

Picking a gym can be a workout by itself. Different facilities have various specialties and prices – all which can be overwhelming to the consumer.

Additionally, many gyms may require you sign a contract.

“If getting fit is the top of your New Year Resolution list, be sure you understand what you are signing yourself up for before you sign up for a gym, especially if you haven’t been an avid fitness person before. You want to make sure your contract has flexibility in case you change your mind,” said Angie Hicks, founder of the consumer website Angie's List.

Read the document carefully and don’t sign it immediately. Take the contract home and take the time to make sure you understand the fine print, including what happens if you break it.

If you do change your mind, most states provide specific gym and health club cooling-off protections for consumers, typically ranging from three to five days.

If you’re hesitant about getting into a long-term commitment, consider a club or classes that don’t require a contract. 
Many centers offer contract-free plans with access to many amenities.

“If you’re interested in starting a fitness routine this year, but don’t know what’s going to work best for you, ask for some trial passes at a gym. Go with a friend on a buddy pass. You might find just buying the treadmill and having it at home, which has worked well for me over the years, might be your best bet,” Hicks added.

“We really want to get members engaged right away so some of the mistakes we see is they don’t take advantage of all of the complimentary things that we offer with the membership,” said gym spokesperson Linda Martin.

Another tip: Ask how an injury or move to a new area might affect your contract. Some gyms allow members to suspend or cancel a membership in the case of an injury or permanent disability, while others may not.

And before starting any fitness program talk first to your doctor.

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