BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It's that time of year when thousands of Americans join a gym as part of their New Year's resolutions.
Gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs seem to be coming out of the woodwork as American adults try to get back in shape. This proliferation of health clubs is also generating a healthy dose of consumer complaints.
The health clubs are showing up in strip malls with some of the larger facilities in standalone locations. And most of them offering what seem to be great deals.
You can join on a monthly basis or get a discount with a one-year or two-year membership, which means signing a contract full of fine print.
Peggy Penders of the Better Business Bureau stated, "The BBB has had thousands of complaints filed against health clubs, particularly because of the contract issues and billing problems that folks run into."
And if you can't keep keep your commitment to a long-term contract there can be hefty cancellation fees.
"A month-to-month situation may not actually be the fact if you are going to try and cancel. There could be a cancellation fee. There could be some other stipulations, in terms of exiting that club," Penders said.
And the BBB points out that canceling your membership is often a lot easier said than done.
Penders stated, "Verbal cancellation often doesn't work. They do need a cancellation prepared in writing for it to take effect."
While there are lots of choices among health clubs there are alternatives that are less cumbersome but more costly, such as community-based or not-for-profit gyms, like the YMCA.
The Southtowns Y has all the fitness equipment, a large running track and other amenities - but you pay for it. However, for many families, health insurance will pay a portion.
Erica Tempestoso of the Southtowns Y explained, "Lots of insurances give you a fitness portion deductible, and you are able to use that toward your membership."
The BBB also points out some health clubs wouldn't allow active military to break their contracts without a penalty, even when they got shipped out.
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