Mind & Body

Smart Tips for Joining a Gym

TIMEOctober 1, 2015
Joining a health club or fitness centre is a great way to get fit, but it is important to be a smart consumer and know your rights when shopping for a gym. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)
Joining a health club or fitness centre is a great way to get fit, but it is important to be a smart consumer and know your rights when shopping for a gym. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Keeping fit is a common New Year’s resolution for many people, and one way to do that might be to join a gym or fitness club.

But just like for any other purchase, there are pitfalls to watch out for and smart ways to protect yourself if you decide to buy a membership.

The Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services offers the following checklist to help consumers know their rights and make smart choices when joining any type of facility-based or pre-paid club or classes.

• Do your research. Make sure the gym’s equipment is new or in good condition, the location and hours of operation are convenient, the instructors are qualified, and the club is clean.

• Visit the facility at the time of day you’d want to attend. The classes should neither be so full that there’s no room to move, nor so empty that they might be cancelled.

• Get the opinions of other club members.

• Review the membership agreement carefully and ask questions before signing. For example, is a fitness test required to join? Is there an extra cost for the test?

• Consumers have a 10-day cooling-off period to reconsider their decision after signing a gym membership contract.

• Don’t sign up for more than a one-year membership. Lifetime fitness club memberships are illegal in Ontario.

• Choose to pay monthly. A gym must offer the option of paying fees in monthly installments. That way, members will not lose more than a month’s payment if the club shuts down.

• If cancelling a gym membership, do it in writing. Hand-deliver the cancellation letter or send it via registered mail to be certain the club has received it.

According to the Ontario government website, more than 5.3 million Canadians had a fitness club membership in 2010, and last year there were over 6,200 fitness clubs operating in Canada.

Reference: Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services