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7 Steps to Avoid Getting Ripped off at the Gym


January 15, 2015

By Jessica Cardwell, director of client relations at 7 Steps to Avoid Getting Ripped off at the GyTrustDALE

When I was 17-years-old, I became a gym rat. It didn’t happen overnight—when I began, I didn’t know the first thing about gyms. I toured one of the bigger chains and fell in love with the phenomenal equipment and the cute salesman. I called and begged dad to let me join, only to be heartbroken with a resounding no and a gentle reminder about dog-and-pony distractions that lead to vague long-term agreements.

Years later, I find myself blogging about how consumers can join a great gym without fear. Follow these steps to help keep from getting scammed.

  1. List what you want in a gym
    1. Consider:  location, hours of operation, environment,  age/variety of equipment, amenities, fitness classes, etc.
  2. Make a sliding-scale budget
    1. For example, if your max/month is $50, budget for $10. Starting low offers more options and can save you money.
    1. Read reviews from multiple websites, ask for referrals, read the fine print. Don’t miss anything.
    2. Review the chains, small-business fitness centers and those that are part of a church or community center. Take your time and see what they all have to offer.
  4. Visit
    1. Take a tour. Ask questions. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
  5. Discuss contract and payment
    1. Read everything. Ask them to explain anything.
    2. Make sure the end-of-contract date is stated clearly and that you can refuse auto-renewal.
    3. Ask about deals for new members and if you can get your initiation fee waved. See what kind of discounts they offer for students, veterans and seniors.
    4. Auto-payment is rarely worth the headache. Check reviews to see if there are recurrent issues regarding unauthorized charges.
  6. Get a signed copy of your contract
  7. Enjoy!

Have any questions? Email Jessica at!