Citizens Advice is warning people who have decided to join a gym, health club or fitness studio as part of a get-fit-in-2018 new year’s resolution to beware of ending up out of pocket. The warning comes after data collected by the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline revealed that advice had been given to people with 3,500 gym related problems last year – an average of just under 200 cases every month.
While the warning advises caution when signing up for gym membership it does not in any way provide an excuse for abandoning that get-fit-in-2018 resolution. Bear in mind that most exercise is free and that the most important thing is to work out a way of increasing the amount of exercise you take in a way that suits you and your lifestyle. The NHS Choices website https://www.nhs.uk/livewell/fitness/pages/physical-activity-guidelines-for-adults.aspx provides lots of information and advice on how to do this – whether you are under five, over 65 or any age in between.
If you do decide that going to a gym provides you with the best option, here are some top tips on how to make sure you get what you pay for from your gym.
- Save the evidence – keep a copy of any adverts or special offers that attracted you to that particular gym. Make sure that you are promised these features in writing, either in your contract, in a letter, or in an email.
- Know what you’ve signed up for – read the contract so you fully understand what you’re committing to, how long for, and whether you can leave before the end of the contract.
- Check it’s fair – make sure that the contract is reasonable, for example that it’s not tying you in for a very long time and that there are options to pause your membership or switch locations if you move away, lose your job or can’t train because of injury.
- Know your cancellation rights – some gyms might offer a ‘cooling off’ period if you change your mind within 14 days of signing up. However if the membership doesn’t work for you or doesn’t offer what you expect many will charge you an exit fee if you want to leave before the minimum term is up.
- Make a complaint – if your gym does not meet your expectations but they won’t allow you to cancel, make a complaint to the company in writing. Explain why you think it is unreasonable that you’re not able to leave a membership. If you’re still having problems then contact Citizens Advice for help.
- Make sure it’s worth it -consider how often you will go, and then work out your price per visit. If you’re going once a week or less, pay-as-you-go or individual classes may be cheaper and won’t tie you into a contract.
You can get advice on how to deal with gyms and how you can get your money back if you are entitled to do so, from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06. Finally, you can get information and advice on how to deal with Debt, Benefits, Work, Consumer Issues, Relationships, Housing, Law and Rights, Education, Discrimination, Tax and Healthcare by:
- calling 0344 848 7969 to speak to an assessor or make an appointment to talk to an adviser face-to face. (calls to this service cost the same as calling 01 and 02 numbers included as part of a mobile allowance or a landline call package
- visiting https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ to access our comprehensive range of information and advice
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