What are my rights as a consumer when I join a health club?

Health club memberships can be a great way to stay in shape. There is, however, an expense and commitment involved in joining a gym or health club so it’s important to understand your rights as a member.

The state’s Health Club Act establishes important protections for consumers and sets forth responsibilities that each club must follow. For example:

  • Health clubs offering contracts of three months or more must register with the Attorney General’s Office. These clubs cannot sell a membership until their registration is complete. Make sure to ask if the club is registered.
  • Clubs selling memberships for more than one year or that require you to pay more than one month in advance must obtain a bond or letter of credit to be filed with the Office of Attorney General. This protects you in the event the club closes before your membership ends. Clubs may sell memberships of 12 months or less without a bond or letter of credit provided they collect payments in equal monthly installments. Ask if the club is required to have a bond or letter of credit.

When can I cancel my health club contract?

You can cancel your health club contract within three business days of signing the contract and at any time for the following reasons:

  • If  the club closes for more than 30 days and there is no alternate facility within ten miles.
  • If you move 25 additional miles from the health club and a comparable club is not available within five miles of your new home.
  • If you sustain an injury, verified by a doctor, that prevents you from using a third or more of a facility’s equipment for six months or more.

How do I select a health club?

  • Shop around. Compare facilities and prices at several health clubs. Always get copies of any contracts and be sure to read them carefully. Make sure that you understand the contract’s terms and what’s included in your membership before you sign it, including any special exercise classes.
  • Don’t give in to high pressure sales tactics. Have a clear idea of what you can afford and stick to your budget no matter what incentives are offered. Don’t be afraid to bargain.
  • Are the facilities adequate? Make sure to look for programs and equipment that suit your needs. Ask to tour the club or request a complementary visit.  Visit during the hours when you are most likely to exercise, so you can get an idea of how busy the club will be and what equipment will be  available when you want to use it. Ask current members about their experience with the club during your visit.
  • Make sure the health club has at least one person who is trained in CPR and on the premises during business hours.

If you have any questions about health clubs or have a problem with your membership, please contact my Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1800-441-2555 or www.attorneygeneral.gov