Better Business Bureau: Health club memberships, weight loss

ST. LOUIS, Mo. _The new year can be time for turning over a new leaf. One of the most common resolutions is to lose weight and get in shape.
but be warned. There is a safe way to get started and one that could have you losing nothing but the money in your wallet.

If 2018 is the year you have decided to take control of your fitness, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has advice that can help you evaluate health clubs and gyms. Chris Thetford joined us on FOX 2 News in the Morning with what you need to know about health club memberships.

Before you invest in a health club membership, BBB offers these tips:

• Read the membership contract carefully before you sign up for a membership. If you're confused about the contract, ask the health club for clarification, and ask them to show you where in the contract specific provisions are.
• Make sure you know ahead of time how to cancel a membership. Review the club's written cancellation policy. Additionally, find out what communication you will receive if you do cancel your policy, so you can know if the cancellation has taken place.
• Determine your fitness goals. It`s hard work to lose weight. Find a program you can stick with, preferably one that you enjoy. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn`t meet your needs?
• Visit a health club facility before joining. Check on cleanliness, adequacy of space, machines and instructors. Ask if you can try the facility out before you join. If the facility closes, can you transfer your membership to another facility?
• Consider your budget. Ask the health club about 'joining' or enrollment fees and ongoing monthly costs.
• Read the entire contract. What`s included in the monthly fee and what will cost you extra? What is the total cost, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
• Understand your rights to cancel your contract. Missouri laws give consumers the right to cancel a health club contract within three days of signing it. The law says three business days, but if the facility is open on the weekends, those days may count as business days.
• Check with BBB before you buy or sign a contract. Anyone can check a company`s BBB business profile at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887. Profiles include the firm`s complaint history and whether the complaints were resolved. If customers have written reviews, they may appear on a company`s profile.