What do I need to know before joining a fitness club?

6 On Your Side Answers: What do I need to know before joining a fitness club?

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By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - All you have to do is turn on the TV to be bombarded with advertisements urging you to join a fitness center.

There are many excellent centers here in East Tennessee, but what do you need to do before signing up?

Karen from Knoxville asks, "I felt really pressured when I visited a health club recently. Help me out here."

If working off some of the pounds added during the holidays is one of your new year's resolutions, maybe a fitness center is the place to start.

Before you go out and pay good money to join a health club there are some things you should know.

To begin with, remember the 12 minutes rule. People generally stick to an exercise routine only if their facility is within 12 minutes of their home or work place.

Ask the club for a guest pass and do a trial workout to decide if you feel comfortable in the facility.

Examine the club's equipment and locker room. Is the equipment shabby or broken? Are the dressing areas, showers, steam room and saunas clean?

Ask the club to show you that the facility is bonded.

Health clubs must file some type of financial security for the benefit of their members in the event the facility closes.

Research the club's track record. Check with the Better Business Bureau or with the state's Consumer Affairs Department in Nashville.

Whatever plan you choose, if possible, pay with a credit card. Don't have your bank account debited. Paying by credit card provides greater protection if there is a problem.

One final bit of advice: don't fall victim to high pressure sales tactics or feel obligated to sign a contract immediately. If you're uncertain about whether to join, give it a few days to decide.

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