Getting fit not only benefits you, but also your employer. But joining a gym can have plenty of pitfalls. The NSW Office of Fair Trading offers this advice before signing up to a gym membership:
1. Shop around
Don’t be pressured into signing up on the spot. Visit a number of gyms to work out which is the best value for money, has the best facilities, service and location for you.
2. Be cautious of ‘great deals’
Be wary of special offers, promotions and verbal promises. Some deals may not be as good as they seem, once you read the fine print.
3. Read the fine print
Never take the salesperson’s word for it. Always take the gym contract home and read all the terms and conditions before you sign it.
4. Check the cooling-off period
Check if the contract has a cooling-off period, which allows you to cancel the membership in writing within a limited time period.
5. Where will you be in 6 to 12 months?
The gym may not be easy to access if you change jobs, work different hours or move house and you may still be locked into the contract for months to come. Consider a three or six-month membership – they are often no more expensive than a 12-month one.
6. Pre-paid fees
Fitness centres in NSW are not allowed to accept pre-paid fees in excess of 12 months so you shouldn’t be asked to pay for more than 12 months at a time.
7. Direct debit
Many gyms ask for payments by direct debit. You often need to provide the gym with 30 days written notice to stop the direct debit deductions. Check the contract before you sign. If the fitness centre continues taking payments, talk to your financial institution.
8. Cancelling your membership
If you need to cancel your membership, check your contract to see what is required. Even if the contract requires you to visit the centre to cancel in person, it is also wise to do it in writing. Then you can prove the date you requested for the membership to end.
9. Fitness Australia
Check if the gym is a member of Fitness Australia at www.fitness.org.au or call 1300 211 311. If it is a member it must comply with the NSW Fitness Code of Practice.
10. If things go wrong
If you have a dispute with a gym, check if it is a member of Fitness Australia. If the gym is a member, Fitness Australia will help negotiate your dispute if you submit it to them in writing. If the gym is not a member of Fitness Australia or you cannot resolve the issue, call Fair Trading on 13 32 20 or visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au for help and advice.