One of the most common new year resolutions is to get in shape. If this is one of your resolutions for 2017, you’re not alone. In 2016, consumers turned to BBB Business Profiles approximately 250,000 times for information on gyms, health clubs, and fitness centers. Better Business Bureau has information to help you get fit, without getting taken.

In 2016, a large portion of complaints in East Texas were related to contract issues which typically involve disagreements over promises made by the salesperson versus what the membership actually included, and the policy for getting out of the contract if the member relocated to another area.  While some complaints were regarding basic billing errors, the majority centered on the customer being billed after they believed their contract had expired.

“It’s always important to make educated decisions when considering any business”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas “Those who ask the right questions and read the fine print are more likely to be satisfied both inside and outside the gym.”

BBB offers tips before you start your fitness journey:

Check with BBB. The company’s BBB Business profile will provide you with the company’s track record, including their rating and customer reviews.

Consider your budget. Most facilities charge an up-front membership fee to join and a monthly fee that is usually paid by automatic withdrawal from your checking account.

Take a tour. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or the availability of Wi-Fi. Ask questions and make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability and cost of trainers, etc.

Understand the terms. Before you sign the dotted line, request a contract to read at home so you fully understand what the membership entails along with any gym rules. Does it list all services and facilities and the hours of operation? Is everything that the salesperson promised in the contract? Consider other options if a club pressures you to sign a contract without giving you time to review it.

Before deciding on a gym ask the salesperson these questions:

Will my membership renew automatically? Many times, people join a gym, but don’t consider what happens when the original contract runs out. Some gym contracts renew automatically unless they are cancelled.

How can I get out of my contract? Getting out of any contract isn’t always as easy as getting into one. Make sure you understand what steps are necessary to cancel your contract.

What happens if I move? Gyms have any number of policies for what happens if you move. It might depend on how far away you’re moving and if they have affiliate gyms you could attend.

What happens if they go out of business? Ask the gym to explain what will happen to your money if they go out of business.

Before signing that dotted line, ask yourself these two questions:

What are my fitness goals? Determining your fitness goals in advance will help you select the most appropriate facility for your needs. If you have a serious medical condition, consult a medical professional when setting your fitness goals.

Is this location convenient? If the gym is across town, you’ll be less likely to work out. Choose a fitness club that is convenient for you from work and home.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or report it via BBB ScamTracker.