The New Year is here and many of us are busy setting goals for 2019. That often involves a resolution to eat healthier and get more physically fit. But, before you think about signing up for a gym membership to conquer those goals, Better Business Bureau has some advice that won’t make you and your bank account sweat BEFORE you hit the gym.
So far this year, BBB received just over 3,400 complaints nationwide involving health clubs, which is about the same as last year. Common complaints include billing and contract issues, difficulty cancelling memberships, certain fees added that consumers were not aware of, and charges that occurred even after cancelling a membership.

Here are some common tips to consider:
Avoid High Pressure Tactics: Don’t feel pressure to join right away. A trustworthy gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly and do some research. If you’re pressured to join right away, consider walking away.
Calculate the True Costs: Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.
Understand the Terms: Take the time to read the contract carefully before signing. Make sure that all verbal promises are in writing. What happens if you move? Will your membership renew automatically at the end of the term? Can you get out of the contract altogether and under what circumstances?
Determine Your Fitness Goals: Talk with your physician first. Lay out your goals before you decide where to join – Lose Weight? Gain Muscle? Increase Endurance? Different facilities can target one goal better than another.
Take A Tour: Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers that will help achieve your goal. Check cleanliness of gym floor and locker rooms. Ask about gym hours, busy times, and whether classes require an additional fee.
Ask for a Free Trial: Gyms will often give a one-week free pass – make sure to ask. This is a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you. Try the gym at different times in the day to see how crowded it gets at the hours you will use it.
Don’t forget added perks such as child care, juice bars or free massages. Finally, are you taking advantage of fitness discounts through your health insurance plan or alumni pricing at your alma mater? Have you considered community recreation facilities?

For more information on gyms and fitness clubs, visit BBB has Business Profiles on more than 15,000 health clubs where you can read customer reviews and see how the business responds to complaints.