Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gym, Clubs, Centers, and Contracts!

Joining a Gym

Negotiating the right Contract

Don’t Sign Your Life Away Just Yet!

Once you’ve done your homework, and have decided that this is the gym for you, next up is the contract. I know I know, a headache, and it seems easier to just sign it and get started, but choosing not to review it can cause undue stress later on.
You wouldn’t sign a check unless you knew what you were paying, or buy a car without checking the miles, so why sign a membership contract unless you know what you’re getting! Look for these simple things to help you stay in the know.

What To Look Out For:

  • A salesman is just that…A Salesmen! They don’t work for free. They know that in order to eat this month, they have to make a sale. And more times than not, people end up backing out of contracts and purchases for whatever reason. So sometimes they will include a cancellation clause where they still get paid even if you cancel.
    Real estate agents do it for appraisal fees, contractors do it, and gym membership salesmen do it too. Do not sign anything if you are not sure you want to join, because you might end up paying for nothing!
  • “Pay $7 a month in dues! (With the inclusion of a $170 sign up fee)” A common selling gimmick used to trick buyers with backside deals. Always watch out for flashy promotions. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is, and has some catch to it. Even if it’s an advertisement ploy, and not in your contract, gyms often use quick sale techniques to hook you in.
    They might try to offer a limited time discount forcing you to sign up right there and then. Do not fall for these! They want to sell you quick, while they can earn the most profit on the deal. The longer you think about it, the less likely you will sign up for that price, or even sign up at all. Be patient, the gym will still be there tomorrow.
  • What you see is what you get! Some gyms will fool you with tricky wording regarding memberships, charges, rights, and liability. You may agree to pay X amount of dollars a month for membership only to find out that there is an annual membership fee too, often associating each fee with different privileges or costs. The same thing can be said for hidden finance charges, or usage fees.
  • Most gyms also retain the option to cancel any amenity at any time for whatever reason. So all the sudden, the rock climbing class you originally joined the gym for is now cancelled, or the 24 hour policy is now only 8 to midnight. These little clauses can turn a 12 month contract into a year long nightmare.
  • Watch out for liability forms as well. If they make you sign one before joining, read it over and make sure it’s not restricting your natural rights. Most liability forms will prevent law suits from personal injury while in the gym, but some will include clauses that apply that policy to the gym in its entirety; meaning that if you slip and fall due to their reckless efforts, you will have little to no power to sue them.

Watch Out for Rate Increases!

Some gyms will set you up in an annual contract with a fixed monthly rate, however, when the contract rolls, the rates may roll too. Always ask what the terms and conditions are for when your contract ends.
Some might increase your rates while others will simply continue your membership as is until you change it. If in the contract they do state that they hold the right to increase your rates, try bargaining with them until they see things your way. Do not sign until you are completely happy with your contract!

Cancelling your Contract Can lead to Extra Fees!

Much like cell phone contracts, gym memberships can have cancellation clauses too. Ask your gym whether or not they will let you cancel without a costly fee. If you plan on canceling due to an injury or moving, you can always ask to transfer your membership.
It is always a good idea to negotiate this out of any gym contract due to the nature of the membership. You may join thinking you’ll go 5 times a week, or that it has every amenity you want, but instead go once a week and use machines that you hate. Keep your options open. It’s your contract, so only sign it if it is in your best interest.

This wraps up the contract portion of joining a gym.


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About The Author

I am a 24 year old college graduate from California. I am big into health and fitness, and feel everyone should get out there, be active, and live the best life they can.

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