If you signed up for a gym membership first thing New Year’s Day to keep your New Year’s resolution, you know how it makes for a wonderful way to start the new year (good luck keeping it up though. Most people don’t manage it, come the third week of January). But if you’re new to the whole fitness thing (and if you are still going every week), perhaps you need a little primer on the ways of fitness clubs.
Let’s start with the trainers at fitness clubs. These are people who are the stuff of romance movies and toothpaste advertisements. With their incredible bodies and their great smiles they walk up to you and ask if you would like the benefit of their expertise, for a hefty charge.
You look at them, take into account the fact that the management chose to employ them; and you think that it’s going to go great. That’s certainly a reasonable way to think. Unfortunately, the fitness industry doesn’t work in a reasonable way.
Trainers require no real training or credentials (although accrediting authorities do exist). If they do show you a quick glance at some kind of accreditation they have, it’s possible that it’s only something they got out of a three-week online course that cost them $300.
It can be dangerous putting your body through exercises that a fitness innocent thinks of. You could end up with some pretty expensive-to-fix injuries. Ask the management if their trainers have accreditation by the American College of Sports Medicine or the American Council on Exercise.
Fitness clubs cost a lot of money. Worse still, they take the money right out of your bank usually. You had better be completely sure that you will be making full use of that money before you join. Once you do, they kind of get used to your money coming in every month and make it very difficult for you to quit.
There is actually a very entertaining episode in the old sitcom FRIENDS about how Chandler tries to quit the gym and they send out a very pretty girl to process his request. And of course, he doesn’t know how to say no to a pretty girl like that. But it isn’t always fun stuff like when you try to quit your gym.
Fitness clubs have some pretty serious complaints filed against them with the BBB and with the offices of state attorney generals. The most frequent kind of complaint against fitness clubs involves applying to them to cancel a membership and then having them charging sustomers as usual.
People sometimes get careless and neglect to check their bank statements or their credit card statements. People who do, find often that their fitness clubs continue to charge them even after promising to terminate their memberships.