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Health

Check gym before signing contract, BBB urges

Chuck Biedka
| Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, 3:45 p.m.
Fitness instructor Stephanie Verdecchia trains two clients, Joan Steighner, of Butler, (left) and Taylor Crede, of Penn Township, Butler County inside Verdecchia's gym, Studio Fit in Penn Township, Butler County on Friday Nov. 7, 2014.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Fitness instructor Stephanie Verdecchia trains two clients, Joan Steighner, of Butler, (left) and Taylor Crede, of Penn Township, Butler County inside Verdecchia's gym, Studio Fit in Penn Township, Butler County on Friday Nov. 7, 2014.

Gym memberships increase in January but so do complaints, according to the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania.

Last year about 6,900 complaints were handled by BBB across the country. Many of the complaints involved billing and contracts — the areas BBB suggests that people do their home work before signing contracts.

In Pennsylvania, customers have certain protections under the Health Club Act, says Warren King, president of the BBB of Western Pennsylvania.

He suggests that prospective customers call the bureau to verify registration of gyms particularly for a contract of more than three months. The BBB has profiles on more than 15,000 health clubs.

The bureau suggests customers set fitness goals in advance, determine priorities and confirm if the new location is convenient and if it has extended hours.

The bureau also encourages customers take a tour to make sure the new gym has all of the wanted equipment and trainers when needed.

Ask questions such as is anyone trained in CPR? How clean is the gym?

Customers should also ask if there are free trials and about overall costs.

The BBB suggests that customers make sure they understand contract terms as well. Customers have the right to cancel health club contracts within three business days of signing a contact and other reasons including:

• New gym closes for more than 30 days and there is no alternative facility within 10 miles.

• Customer moves more than 25 miles away from the gym and there is no alternative facility within 10 miles.

• Customer suffers doctor verified injury which prevents he/she from using one-third or more of the club's equipment for six months or more.

For more information or an evaluation of weight loss products, visit the BBB Weight Loss Resource Center at bbb.org or call 877-267-5222.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711, cbiedka@tribweb.com or via Twitter @ChuckBiedka.

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