Contracts and gym memberships

Picking a gym can be a workout. Different facilities have various specialties and prices – all of which can be overwhelming to the consumer. Additionally, many gyms may require you to sign a contract.

“If getting fit is the top of your New Year Resolution list, be sure you understand what you are signing yourself up for before you sign up for a gym, especially if you haven’t been an avid fitness person before,” Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks said. “You want to make sure your contract has flexibility in case you change your mind.”

Read the document carefully and don’t sign it immediately. Take the contract home and take the time to make sure you understand the fine print, including what happens if you break it.

“Our membership benefits include free babysitting while you work out, six months free wellness coaching,” gym spokesperson Linda Martin said. “We also have group exercises classes that are complimentary with your membership and anything from Zumba to cycling to water aerobics.”

If you’re hesitant about getting into a long-term commitment, consider a club or classes that don’t require a contract. Many centers offer contract-free plans with access to many amenities.

“If you’re interested in starting a fitness routine this year, but don’t know what’s going to work best for you, ask for some trial passes at a gym,” Hicks said. “Go with a friend on a buddy pass. You might find just buying the treadmill and having it at home might be your best bet.”

“We really want to get members engaged right away, so some of the mistakes we see are that they don’t take advantage of all of the complimentary things that we offer with the membership,” added Martin.

Another tip: Ask how an injury or move to a new area might affect your contract. Some gyms allow members to suspend or cancel a membership in the case of an injury or permanent disability, while others may not. And remember, before starting any fitness program, talk first to your doctor.