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Weigh these tips before joining a gym in 2017

Employees in the gym of's Boise headquarters. If you need a gym and don’t have one like this at work that meets your needs, review the BBB’s tips.
Employees in the gym of's Boise headquarters. If you need a gym and don’t have one like this at work that meets your needs, review the BBB’s tips.

It should come as no surprise that the most common New Year’s Resolutions are consistently about living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight, according to Nielsen Survey results. And if you are anything like me, the last month has been full of yummy sweets and treats. That means many of us will be hitting the gym to start off 2017, and you may be considering signing up for a membership.

In 2016 consumers turned to the Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest more than 5,320 times to look up health clubs, fitness centers and gyms. Unfortunately, BBB processed an estimated 90 complaints for the fitness industry this year. The complaints ranged from billing and collection issues to contract issues.

To get the most out of your membership and to avoid signing up for something you can’t afford and won’t use, consider these tips:

▪  Warm up with a tour. Before signing up at any gym, ask to take a tour of the facilities. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers you are looking for. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require preregistration, availability and cost of trainers.

▪  Look for discounts. Gyms often offer specials at the beginning of the year. From free week passes to heavy discounts to first-time members, discounts are a great way to see if the gym is a good fit for you and to save on signup costs.

▪  Know the true costs. While these special offers are meant to encourage new members, the price could go up more than you budgeted once the introductory period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.

▪  Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will want you to read the contract thoroughly before signing up. Make sure that all oral promises made by the salesperson are also in writing.

▪  Ask how to end membership. Every year, BBB receives a large number of complaints from people who joined gyms and didn’t realize that their contracts would renew automatically unless they took specific steps to cancel. Inquire about the policies in case you need to end your contract for any reason, including moving.

▪  Check BBB has business reviews on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers and gyms. Read what previous customers say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints.

Have a happy and healthy 2017!

Emily Valla,, is the Idaho marketplace director for the Better Business Bureau Northwest. To check a business or report a scam, go to or call (208) 342-4649.