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Read fine print before choosing a fitness facility

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Who doesn’t want to lose weight and get fit this New Year?

If your plans include joining a health club, the options may be overwhelming – everything from specialized high-tech weight-training facilities to YMCA all-purpose gyms.

The Better Business Bureau offers tips to help you select a fitness facility that best meets your needs.

• Determine your fitness goals. What are your fitness goals (build endurance, increase strength, become a better tennis player?) and how will you accomplish them (swimming, weight-training, yoga?)? If you have a serious health condition, consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.

• Consider your budget. What monthly amount can you comfortably devote to physical fitness?

• Shop around. Ask friends and coworkers to recommend facilities and pick three that appear to align with your fitness goals and budget.

• Check out the facilities. Visit each club on a day and time that you plan to use it to see how crowded it is. Is it conveniently located? Do you like the equipment, classes, amenities (child care, personal trainers) and hours of operation? Are you comfortable with the atmosphere and clientele? Note the cleanliness and condition of the equipment, work-out area and locker room, as well as staff member availability.

• Talk to members. Are they satisfied? Have they experienced any problems?

• Interview staff. Are staff members friendly and helpful? Ask about their qualifications, certification and education.

• Review the contract. Walk away from clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot. In fact, take a sample contract home to read it thoroughly. Does it list all services and facilities and the hours of operation? What is included in the monthly fee and what’s extra? What’s the total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges?

• Membership details. How long is the membership term? Can you go month-to-month? Some facilities give customers several days to reconsider after signing the contract; if so, get it in writing.

• Cancellation policy. What are your cancellation rights if you move away, are injured, or the club closes? Will the unused portion of your membership be refunded?

Finally, find out if the club meets state bonding and licensing requirements. And, always check with the BBB for a report on the facility before making a purchasing decision.

REACH KELVIN COLLINS, THE PRESIDENT/CEO OF THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU OF CENTRAL GEORGIA AND THE CSRA INC., AT (800) 763-4222 OR WWW.BBB.ORG.


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