Tips For Joining a Gym

If you're looking to get in shape, a membership at a gym, fitness center, health spa, or sports club could be a good option. But joining a gym often means signing a contract, and not all contracts are the same. To avoid a problem down the road, find out more about the business and what you're committing to before you sign up. People have told the FTC about high-pressure sales tactics, misrepresentations about facilities and services, broken cancellation policies, and lost membership fees when gyms go out of business.

Check Out the Facilities

Plan a visit at a time you would normally be using the gym to see how crowded it is, whether the facilities are clean and well-maintained, and whether the equipment is in good shape. Ask about the:

  • Number of members. Many gyms set no membership limits. It might not be crowded when you visit, but be packed during peak hours or after a membership drive.
  • Hours of operation. Do they suit your schedule? Some fitness centers restrict men's use to certain days and women's to others. Some may limit lower-cost memberships to certain hours.
  • Instructors and trainers. Some places hire trainers and instructors who have special qualifications. If you're looking for professionals to help you, ask about their qualifications and how long they've been on the staff.
  • Classes. Will you need to pay extra for certain activities, or are they included in your membership fees?

Know What You're Agreeing To

Some gyms will ask you to join — and pay — the first time you visit and will offer incentives like special rates to get you to sign on the spot. It's best to wait a few days before deciding. Take the contract home and read it carefully. Before you sign, find out:

Is everything the salesperson promised written in the contract? If a problem comes up after you join, the contract is what counts. If something isn't written in the contract, it's going to be difficult to prove your case.

Is there a "cooling-off" or trial period? Some gyms give customers several days to reconsider after they've signed a contract. Others might let you join for a trial period. Even if it costs a little more each month, if you're not enjoying the membership or using it as much as you planned, you will have saved yourself years of payments.

Can you cancel your membership or get a refund? What happens if you need to cancel your membership because of a move or an injury, or if you find you just aren't using it? Will they refund your money? Knowing the gym's cancellation policies is especially important if you choose a long-term membership.

What happens if the gym goes out of business? You can check with your state Attorney General to see what your rights are according to your state's laws.

Is the price right? Break down the cost to weekly and even daily figures to get a better idea of what you will pay to use the facility. Include possible finance charges if you pay by credit. Can you afford it?

If you signed up for a special introductory rate, make sure you know the terms of your contract once the discounted rate ends.

Find Out What Other People Think

Search for reviews online Do a search online to see what other people are saying about the location you're interested in. You might search the name of the gym with words like "reviews" or "complaints." Are people having the same kinds of issues with their contracts or the facilities?

Check for complaints and find out your rights Contact your state Attorney General or local consumer protection office to find out whether state laws regulate health club memberships, and whether the office has gotten any complaints about the business.

Stopping Unsolicited Mail, Phone Calls, and Email

Tired of having your mailbox crammed with unsolicited mail, including preapproved credit card applications? Fed up with getting telemarketing calls just as you're sitting down to dinner? Fuming that your email inbox is chock-full of unsolicited advertising? The good news is that you can cut down on the number of unsolicited mailings, calls, and emails you receive by learning where to go to "just say no."

Continue reading

Generic Drugs and Low-Cost Prescriptions

Generic drugs have the same active ingredients as the brand-name drugs they’re based on. They cost 20 percent to 70 percent less, according to estimates from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If you want to make sure you’re getting generics when possible, talk to your doctor and pharmacist. You can ask your doctor to write a prescription allowing a generic drug product when it’s appropriate.

Continue reading

Guide to Buying a Hearing Aid

There have been many technological advances in hearing aids in recent years, and finding the right one for your lifestyle and budget can make a big difference if you’re coping with hearing loss. Before you buy a hearing aid, it’s important to understand the various types of hearing loss and what to consider when you’re shopping, so you get the product that’s most appropriate for your particular kind of hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your budget.

Continue reading

Medicare Part D Solicitations

Unfortunately, not everyone who contacts you about Medicare Part D has the best intentions. Scam artists also follow the headlines, and they are reportedly contacting eligible people claiming to represent a Medicare Part D provider. All they really want is your personal information, like your Social Security number or your checking or credit card account numbers, which they use to try to commit financial fraud.

Continue reading

Buying Health Products and Services Online

The Internet is convenient for comparing prescription drug prices, researching health products and services, and preparing for your next medical appointment. Use these tips to be smart and safe when researching health products and services online.

Continue reading

Anti-Aging Products

Some modern marketers of pills and sprays claim to have found a Fountain of Youth in a substance called HGH – Human Growth Hormone. But the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, says a closer look at these non-prescription products suggests that they may be nothing more than hype.

Continue reading

Indoor Tanning

Ads for tanning salons and tanning systems promise a bronzed body year-round, but experts agree that ultraviolet (UV) radiation from these devices damages the skin and poses serious health risks. Sunburns and tans are signs of skin damage. Deliberate tanning, either indoors or out, increases your risk of skin cancer.

Continue reading

Discount Plan or Health Insurance?

Dishonest marketers make it sound like they’re selling affordable health insurance, when really, it’s a medical discount plan instead. Medical discount plans can be a way for some people to save money on their health care costs, but discount plans aren’t health insurance, and aren’t a substitute for it.

Continue reading

Cell Phone Radiation Scams

The increase in cell phone use has generated concern about possible health risks related to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from this technology, and a market for shields as possible protection against the radio waves the phones emit.

Continue reading

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements may seem like harmless health boosters. But while some have proven benefits, many don't. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements aren't evaluated or reviewed by FDA for safety and effectiveness, and even "natural" supplements can be risky depending on the medicines you take or the medical conditions you have. * *

Continue reading

Avoid Crowdfunding Scams

Crowdfunding is one way to support a project you believe in and get rewards for that support. But the project you’re backing is only as good as the people behind it. Some dishonest people can take your money but produce nothing – no product, no project, and no reward.

Continue reading

'One Ring' Cell Phone Scam

Who’s calling now? That number doesn’t ring a bell. Hold the phone, says the Federal Trade Commission. You could be a potential victim of the growing "one-ring” cell phone scam.

Continue reading

How to Stay Safe Online

If your computer is attacked by a virus or a hacker, it really doesn't matter what type of connection you use: the damage is done. You could lose important personal information or software that's stored on your hard drive, as well as valuable time trying to make repairs. And your computer could be used without your knowledge to attack other computers, including those that protect our national security.

Continue reading

Protect Children's Privacy Online

Whether playing, shopping, studying or just surfing, today's kids are taking advantage of all that the web has to offer. But when it comes to their personal information online, who's in charge?

Continue reading

The 'Nigerian' Scam: Costly Compassion

Nigerian advance-fee fraud has been around for decades, but now seems to have reached epidemic proportions: Some consumers have told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) they are receiving dozens of offers a day from supposed Nigerians politely promising big profits in exchange for help moving large sums of money out of their country.

Continue reading

The Symptoms of Foodborne Illness

Common symptoms of foodborne illness include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, headache, vomiting, severe exhaustion, and sometimes blood or pus in the stools. However, symptoms will vary according to the type of bacteria and by the amount of contaminants eaten.

Continue reading

Safe Food Storage Prevents Illness

The best rule of food storage in the home is to refrigerate or freeze perishables right away. The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), and the freezer should be zero F (minus 18 C). Check both "fridge" and freezer periodically with a refrigerator/freezer thermometer.

Continue reading

Page top