The benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet are well proven, but choosing a quality health and fitness program requires some homework to avoid a costly mistake.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) receives a high volume of complaints this time of year from consumers who have gotten themselves into health and fitness programs that don’t adequately meet their needs. The complaint trends against health and fitness clubs each year suggest that consumers need to read the fine print more carefully on their contracts BEFORE they sign up.
BBB offers the following advice to help consumers select a health or fitness program that best meets their needs:
Check with BBB first. Visit www.vi.bbb.org to find BBB accredited fitness clubs or health programs in your area, and find out the company’s customer satisfaction track record.
Determine your health and fitness goals. Do you want to build endurance, lose weight, increase flexibility or become a better golfer? What type of activity do you think will best help you achieve your goals? Should you diet, weight train or maybe do cardio or yoga? Considering these issues in advance will help you select the most appropriate facility. Always consult with a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.
Consider your budget. Many programs charge an up-front membership fee to join and a monthly fee thereafter. What amount can you comfortably devote to physical fitness? Once you’ve joined a program keep a close eye on your bank statements to make sure you’re not getting billed more than you should.
Check out the facilities. Visit several clubs on days and at times you plan to attend to see what they are like and how busy they are. Do the facilities offer the equipment, classes, amenities, support and hours of operation you require? Note the cleanliness and condition of the equipment, workout area and locker room, as well as staff member availability.
Ask around. Check with friends and family for recommendations. Do you know anyone who regularly participates in a health or fitness program? Ask them about what they like and don’t like about their program.
Don’t give in to pressure. Walk away from clubs or programs that pressure you to sign a contract on the spot. Ask to take a sample contract home to read it thoroughly before you agree join any program.
Read the entire contract. Does the contract list all services, hours of operation and details of the program? Is everything the salesperson promised in the contract? What is included in the monthly fee and what’s going to cost you extra? What’s the total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
Know the membership details. How long is the membership term and is there an automatic renewal? Can you go month-to-month? What are the specific terms and conditions if you want to cancel your membership? Make sure it’s all in writing and keep a copy of the contract for your records.
For more advice from BBB on finding reliable companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.vi.bbb.org
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