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August 31, 2010 at 4:00 PMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Top 4 Health Club Scams

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

Membership with a health club is a great way to exercise and stay in shape, as long as your work with a reputable facility. As with every industry, scams are definitely running wild in the health club arena. Without even realizing it, you could be sacrificing your hard-earned money, or even worse, your health. The following are some of the most widely used scams that you should watch for when joining any health club.

1. Pricing Too Good to be True

The health club market is a competitive one, and since more and more people are becoming health conscious, that competition has grown substantially in recent years. One of the ways that club owners are trying to beat their rivals is through incredibly low pricing. Here is a simple rule to follow: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. In order to operate a gymnasium or health facility, significant costs for equipment, upkeep, and staff are necessary. Low rates may mean a small club with few workout stations. This translates into long wait periods between sets and a lack of equipment choices. Or, the equipment itself might be a lesser quality, and not as dependable. When it comes to exercise machines and other equipment, sturdiness and reliability are important. Maybe you enjoy working out in a smaller place, and there can be advantages to that, but just be sure to inspect the entire facility before joining. The bottom line is that if you are paying an extremely low monthly fee, it is most likely because there is less equipment, the equipment is below average in quality, and/or corners are being cut in replacing it.

2. Now You See It, Now You Don't

Another common tactic health club operators use is collecting membership fees in advance whenever a new facility is getting ready to open. Reserving your spot and signing up early to get special discounts are the motivators that lead customers to give their money without even seeing what the place looks like. The problem is that some of these clubs never open at all, and those people are left trying to track down the owner to get a refund. To avoid this predicament, do not join any facility unless you can actually walk through it and make sure it is the right fit for you and your fitness needs. In contrast, a health club might close before your membership period expires. Check the contract before signing it to see if your monthly dues are refundable or non-refundable. Otherwise, you could end up paying for a service that is impossible for you to use.

3. Did You Really Buy That?

Once certain health clubs have your credit card information, a number of things are possible. You may have received a discount for signing up on an automatic recurring payment withdrawal right out of your account, which seemed like a good idea at the time. Then, when reviewing your monthly statement, you find extra charges that you either do not understand or did not authorize. In both cases, that is a sure sign of a scam. Once again, low prices will be the bright red flag indicating hidden fees down the line. Also, specific parts of the facility might be off limits for a basic membership, which is another way to keep the fees down. Then, as you unsuspectingly use those areas, they charge you the additional costs. Ask questions whenever you are considering whether or not to sign a contract. Many times, the way the questions are answered can reveal the intent of the person you are working with. General, vague, or non-committal responses are just more red flags being waved.

4. Questionable Qualifications

Personal trainers can obtain certified through various courses or programs that are not necessarily credible. A plaque or certification does not always reflect credibility. Two of the most respected and well known organizations are the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength & Conditioning Association. If the trainer you are talking with is not certified with one of them, research where they did get their training to verify its legitimacy. Following the advice of a trainer that is not qualified could potentially lead to injuries or serious health risks.

Always Take Precaution

Visit the health club you are planning to join and check everything. Cleanliness is something to notice or ask about. Are there clean towels available or disinfectants to use on the equipment? In general, how concerned does the owner seem about operating a clean facility and keeping it clean? Exercising should always be a healthy experience, and anticipating germs or scams before they happen will ensure that you are joining the right club for the right reasons.


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