I want to join a gym to help me get in shape for the new year, but I’ve heard so many horror stories about people who join and then can’t quit. What should I look for so I don’t have a similar problem?
Congratulations on wanting to join a gym to get in shape!
Gym memberships present some risk because they are a contract, and once you sign on the line, you have agreed to all the terms and provisions in the contract.
Prospective gym members should take the time to read the contract before agreeing to it and pay special attention to the conditions for termination.
Some contracts require providing your credit card or bank account for automatic payments for the length of the contract, which often is for two years. Shorter-term contracts may be available but are more expensive than long-term agreements. You have to sort out which is better for you.
Some gyms allow for month-to-month agreements but can continue forever unless you give 30 days’ notice to end the contract.
Something else to consider in the contract is what would happen if you become so ill that you cannot exercise any longer or relocate to another city.
Trial memberships may also be helpful. Just be sure to ask a gym representative questions like "Will you have access to the whole facility or a limited area?" or "Can you join group classes during the trial?”
Also consider the length of the trial membership and whether you have to formally opt out to prevent the contract from going into effect, and make sure you are aware of cancellation fees.
Once you join the gym, it is important to be aware of when and how your commitment ends. You may need to make a written request to keep it from automatically renewing.
In short, you don’t need to be hypersensitive about gym contracts; you just need to be aware of your obligations when you sign.
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