Community Papers

Get fit but be careful: BBB

Each year, thousands of people across B.C. follow through with their New Year’s resolutions to get fit by joining a fitness or health club.

Most people who join health clubs are pleased with their choices but others are not, according to a Better Business Bureau press release. They have problems with high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations of facilities and services, broken cancellation and refund clauses, and lost membership fees as a result of spas or clubs going out of business.

In 2012, the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland B.C. received more than 15,700 inquiries about health clubs, fitness centres and exercise and physical fitness programs — and 235 complaints.

BBB advises consumers to consider the following tips before joining a fitness club:

• Shop around. Com-pare clubs to find one that matches your interests and your budget. Check the company’s reliability report with the BBB before making a long-term commitment by visiting or calling 604-682-2711.

• Take your time. Give yourself time to make your final decision and don’t cave in to high-pressure sales. A hasty commitment to take advantage of a limited time offer may cost you more in the long run. Ask about free trials and see if you can sample the services and equipment before you buy.

• Find out if the club is suitable for you. Make sure the hours and location are convenient, and that you’re satisfied that the staff is qualified and helpful. Find out what sorts of programs and fitness classes are offered to match your lifestyle, and if those programs are included in your membership fees or cost extra.

• Know yourself and plan a routine. Assess how often you’re going to use the club and compare the costs of long- and short-term memberships with drop-in visits.

• Carefully consider the contract. Take a copy home to read thoroughly before signing. Be sure to find out about your cancellation rights. Be cautious of clubs that pressure you to sign on the spot. As a gym membership in considered a continuing service contract in B.C., by law, you have 10 days, from date of signing, to cancel the contract in writing.

Consumer Protection BC regulates these types of contracts. To find out more, visit or call toll free 1-888-564-9963.

BBB suggests paying by credit card in case the club suddenly closes but don’t part with any funds before signing a contract. Finally, never sign up with a club that hasn’t yet opened.

Business reviews all available for free at




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