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gym exerciseBefore you sign a contract for a gym membership, read it carefully and understand what you are signing.

Complaints about membership contracts are way up across the country. In 2012 in Utah, for example, the Better Business Bureau of Utah received 330 complaints involving gyms and their contracts–roughly double the number from 2011. Most of the complaints involve broken verbal promises that are not backed up by the written contract.

“It used to be that people would complain about how crowded the gym was and how dirty it was. Now the complaints are all about the contract and all about what the sales person said,” the BBB said. In fact, some gyms make a business model out of enforcing what consumers sign. Many gyms also outsource their contract management and billing services to a third party, which can complicate matters if problems arise.

Joining a gym can be good for your health, but make it a positive experience by joining the right gym. Here are some things to think about:

  • Signing a membership agreement is a legally-binding contract that can last months or years. Be sure you understand what you sign.
  • Some contracts require cancellation fees, if you can cancel the contract at all
  • Transfers can be tricky if you move
  • If it’s not in the contract, it doesn’t legally matter what the salesperson said

Things to do before you sign:

  • Research the gym online at
  • Consider your budget and check the fees
  • Visit on a day and time that you plan to use it
  • Don’t give in to sales pressure
  • Carefully review the contract
  • Understand the length of membership and the automatic renewal and cancellation policies

I personally like 24 Hour Fitness. I buy the pre-paid membership cards from Costco at a good price. Therefore,

  • I know exactly what it will cost me. No surprises.
  • No long-term contract.
  • The club doesn’t have my credit card number or bank account so there is no possibility of future charges.

I hear from a reliable source that soon Costco will stop selling these gym memberships, so if you like the deal, buy one or two of these certificates now. They have no expiration date, so you can use them when your current gym membership expires.


Sources: El Paso Times and