Joining a gym in the new year? Make sure to read the fine print

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EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Have you made a New Year’s resolution for 2020?

A popular goal made by many heading into the new year is to lose weight, get in shape or both.

But for anyone looking to join a gym in 2020, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said it’s important to do your research before signing on the dotted line.

Here’s what you should look for before you commit to a gym membership:

First and foremost, don’t feel coerced to join the first gym you visit. The first of the year is when most gyms begin applying high-pressure sales tactics to get potential members to join right away.

“A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research and make an informed decision,” BBB said.

Before choosing a gym, it’s also important to calculate how much you will be spending on membership fees.

The BBB said gyms will often use introductory offers to encourage new members to join.

But once the initial new member period is over, the gym may increase your membership fee. The BBB encourages everyone to read the fine print before signing up to ensure the membership is reasonable and within your budget.

Some gyms offer free tours to prospective members. This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and look closely at what is most important to you – whether that be cleanliness, crowds or free Wi-Fi.

As a way to bring in potential members, some gyms will offer free one-week trials. The trials allow potential members to try the equipment, experience the atmosphere and check out any classes the gym has to offer.

Before signing a membership contract, be sure to read it carefully to ensure all verbal promises made by the salesperson are also expressed in writing.

Here are some questions to ask yourself while reading a membership contract:

  • What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business?
  • Will your membership renew automatically at the end of the term
  • Can you get out of the contract altogether and under what circumstances?

The BBB also has information on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers and gyms nationwide, including customer reviews and business complaints – which in turn can help you narrow down your list.

BBB: What to look for when joining a gym »

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