Informing Yourself about Gym Memberships

Regardless of if you are staff, faculty, a student, or a resident at the University, regular physical activity is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are many facilities and businesses on campus and in the Point Grey area that cater to the University community, but before becoming a member of any gym, club, or studio, it is important that you make a well informed decision. Joining a gym is the same as making any major purchase. You need to make an informed decision and consider some important factors before you sign on the dotted line.
Consider Your Needs
The most important factor in choosing the right gym is finding one that fits your goals. Why do you want to join? Do you want to lose weight? Are you treating an injury or health condition? Or are you looking to meet new friends and increase your social group, while staying active and healthy? Regardless of your reasons, you’ll want to ask some important questions as you choose a gym.
Take Your Time & Resist High Pressure Sales Tactics
When you start looking around, you may find that you cannot use a gym’s facilities without first joining; therefore, you will need to sign a membership contract first. Most gym contracts are non-refundable. While a many facilities will allow you to cancel a gym membership contract under certain conditions – like moving and an unfortunate death – be sure you understand the terms and know what is expected of you because the contract is a legal agreement. Your membership will have to be paid whether you’re using the facility or not. When you’re presented with the contract, do not sign it on the spot. Resist high pressure sales techniques – don’t sign anything until you’ve had a chance to review it carefully.
Avoid Long Term Contracts
Be careful about signing a long-term contract. While paying in advance will probably get you a better rate, most experts in the industry agree it is preferable to pay month-to-month. If the gym only accepts cash, you may want to consider going somewhere else and remember if you’re joining a campus gym, or one nearby campus they should cater to students and provide monthly or term memberships.
Are there extra fees?
A lot of gyms make extra money charging for the little things – like locks, towels, extra classes and specialized service. Often as part of your new contract, these items come free for a set period of time. Then without notice, you may begin to get charged for these services or find yourself with a membership that was not the one you thought you signed up for. Remember to ask about extra services and any costs associated with them when you are signing-up for your membership. Additionally, gyms can be creative in how these extra fees are enforced. As an example, it might be stated in the contract that an outside lock cannot be used, thus forcing you to rent a lock from them. Ask up front; know what the hidden fees are.
Bring a friend & get it in writing
When you sign up for a gym membership bring a witness. If you ever end up in court over a disputed contract, you’ll want a second set of ears and eyes. While you’re signing-up, if there is something that is being agreed to that isn’t already stated in the contract, get it in writing.
Changing your mind
The province of B.C. affords consumers a 7-10 day grace on gym contracts. If you change your mind you can cancel within this time period without explanation or penalty. The exception to this provision is if you fail to read any fine print and sign off on the cancellation policy when you agree to your membership.
Membership cancellation & expiration
What if circumstances change and you need to cancel? Do not simply call in and cancel your membership. Always cancel in writing via a hand delivered letter or registered mail. Ensure you have proof of delivery and get a cancellation receipt from the gym. Hang onto your cancellation receipt indefinitely and continue to monitor your accounts for unauthorized withdrawals.
It’s also important to know what happens after your contract expires? Don’t assume that simply because your initial two year agreement has expired that you will no longer be billed for membership. Check out the following excerpt from the Consumer Protection BC:

Many gym contracts are for two years. Consumers should also know that gym contracts can automatically roll over after two years. However after two years, the contract must be month to month and the consumer has the right to cancel at that time. Cancellation must be made in writing and given 30 days.

Pay attention and do your homework
You can find a good gym and avoid any problems by doing a little bit of research about any gym that you are considering enrolling at. Ask if you can check out the gym facilities thoroughly, as this will help you determine if it offers a good value. Spend some time on internet discussion boards and forums where people discuss facilities and the general environment of local gyms. This will allow you to gather useful information from different people and their personal experience.
Last but not least, always be cautious and pay your utmost attention because your time, money and health are on stake.

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