FREE SPEECH ZONE | New Year’s resolution: Lose weight not money

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Losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions after the excesses of the holiday season. While it’s exciting to gear up towards a worthy goal like this, it’s also important to treat this decision like any other major purchase. Be sure to visit www.bbb.org/searchto check out the complaint history of health clubs in your area. The BBB also recommends asking potential gyms and yourself the following 10 questions before signing up for a membership:

Five questions to ask the gym:

What are the terms of any introductory offers? Gyms often use special introductory offers to lure in new members. Just make sure you understand the terms and what the price will be once the introductory period is over.

Will my membership renew automatically? Many times people who join a gym fail to realize that their contract will renew automatically and that they have to take specific steps to cancel their contract.

How can I get out of my contract? Getting out of a gym contract isn’t always as easy as getting into one, so make sure you understand what steps you will need to take to cancel your membership. Some contracts may not allow you to cancel before the term ends without an early termination fee.

What happens if I move? Gyms have different policies when it comes to how a move will affect your membership. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have other locations in the area you’re moving to.

What happens if you go out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they suddenly go out of business – or if they’re purchased by another company.

Five questions you should ask yourself:

What are my fitness goals? Determining your fitness goals in advance will help you select a facility that is most appropriate for you. If you have a serious health condition, consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.

Is this location convenient? If the gym is across town, you’ll be less likely to work out. Choose a fitness club that is convenient to work or home so the location is not a deterrent to getting exercise.

Can I really afford this every month? Monthly gym fees add up and, after any introductory periods are over, the price could jump higher than your budget can handle. Be sure to do the math before you join and make sure you can afford a gym membership.

Am I feeling pressured to join? Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, and make an informed decision.

Did I get everything in writing? Read the contract carefully and make sure that all verbal promises made by the salesperson are in writing. The terms of the contract are defined by the document you sign, so don’t just take a salesperson’s word for it – get everything in writing!

The mission of the Better Business Bureau is to be the leader in building marketplace trust by promoting, through self-regulation, the highest standards of business ethics and conduct, and to instill confidence in responsible businesses through programs of education and action that inform, assist and protect the general public. Our hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the BBB at www.bbb.org or 651-699-1111, toll-free at 1-800-646-6222.

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