What to look for when signing a gym contract

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- This is the time of year when many people go gym shopping, looking for the best membership for the best price. But after signing on the dotted line, some people lose more than weight when it comes to their contract. Here are some of the most common contract pitfalls.

Tara Treleaven loves to workout. But she learned a lesson in reading the small print of her gym contract, the last time she signed one.

"I travelled in July and August one summer and I couldn't even put it on hold and they had my credit card number and they were authorized to auto pay because I signed the contract. You know, it's kind of annoying," Treleaven said.

Now, she looks for gyms that have no contracts like The Core Houston.

"Our theory and philosophy is, if a trainer or client don't want to pay to be here, I don't want to lock them in to a contract because it's only going to give us a bad name in the industry," said Lee Schuppenhaur, owner of The Core Houston.

Monica Russo with the Better Business Bureau sees many of those complaints about gyms, mostly from people who don't pay attention to the contracts they're signing.

"Number one, you need to take a look at the cancellation clause in the contract," said Russo.

She says some gyms require you to cancel within a certain number of days, some require a certain method of communication, like certified mail.

Next, ask questions about introductory offers.

"A lot of times there might be a consumer who didn't understand that the introductory fee was a temporary price and that it goes up down the road," Russo said.

She also advises to think twice about prepaid memberships.

"A lot of gyms will offer you a huge discount if you prepay your membership in advance," said Russo. "You need to ask yourself, what happens if the gym closes?"

She says to make sure the gym is bonded by the state to protect your investment and see if there's a relocation agreement.

"There are some cases where your gym membership is still active even if your gym closes and you're transferred to another gym," said Russo.

They're mistakes Treleaven now avoids with her no contract gym.

"Some months with my children's schedule, I can't even make it to the gym. It's so nice to decide that month if I'm going to be using that gym membership or not," said Treleaven.
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