Before you sign up at local gym or fitness club, take time to investigate facility

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If this is your year to take control of your weight and fitness, more power to you. Most likely, you’ll need a commitment to exercise regularly.

Better Business Bureau has tips to help you determine which gym or health club is the best place to keep you on track.

Make sure you’re healthy enough for an exercise program before you start. If you haven’t been active for a while, check with your doctor before starting anew.

Before you sign up at a local gym or fitness club, take time to investigate the facility. BBB receives numerous complaints every year about health clubs or gyms that closed abruptly or refused to cancel a contract or provide refunds. Other complaints included inadequate or sloppy maintenance of equipment or facilities.

BBB Business Profiles can help you check on the trustworthiness of fitness clubs and gyms as well as other businesses. The profiles, available at BBB.org, show whether a facility has any complaints and how the gym resolved them. You also can find out how long the facility has been in business, who owns it and how the BBB has rated the business from A+ to F. 

Take time to visit the facility before you sign a contract. Check locker rooms and workout areas for cleanliness. Are clean towels provided? Are there enough machines to permit everyone to use them, even at peak times like early morning and after work? Are classes or personal trainers available to help you reach your goals?

Consider the hours and days the gym is open. Can you work out at times that fit your schedule? Is there adequate parking?

Read over any contracts and understand terms and conditions. What happens if you move or decide that the club isn’t for you, and you want to go elsewhere? If the gym closes, can you transfer your membership at another location?

Ask whether the cost will stay the same throughout the contract. Many gyms and fitness centers offer introductory rates at the beginning of the year, but regular rates kick in after a few months. Does the cost fit your budget? Does the gym bill you or require a credit card or bank account number to debit monthly? Are there late fees?

With a little effort, you should find a fitness center that works for you and fits your budget.

Consumers can check out businesses and charities at BBB.org.

Don O’Brien is the regional director for the Quincy Better Business Bureau. Contact him at dobrien@quincybbb.org or (217) 209-3972

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