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Daily Q&A: What should I know before signing a contract for a gym membership?

When choosing a gym, what kinds of questions should I ask the fitness center?

With the New Year — and after all the holiday turkeys, stuffing and desserts — many people are looking for weights to shed some pounds. Exercise is important, but before picking a gym and signing a contract, know what you're getting into.

"Take the time to do your research before joining a gym and don't give in to high-pressure sales pitches," said Karen Nalven, President of BBB Serving West Florida. "One should always inspect the facilities closely and read the contract very carefully, making sure that all of the promises are in print."

Here are some questions suggested by the Better Business Bureau of West Florida:

• What are the terms of introductory offers? Gyms often use special introductory offers to lure new members. Understand the terms and what the price will be once the introductory period ends.

• Will my membership renew automatically? Every year, BBB receives complaints from people who joined gyms but didn't realize their contract would renew automatically and that they would have to take specific steps to cancel their contract.

• What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of different policies for customers who move. It might depend on how far away you're moving and if they have other locations nearby.

• What happens if the gym goes out of business? Consumers often complain to the BBB after their gym closes and takes their money with them. Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they suddenly go out of business.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: What should I know before signing a contract for a gym membership? 01/05/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 5, 2011 11:45am]
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