Tips on Joining a Fitness Club and Starting an Exercise Program - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Tips on Joining a Fitness Club and Starting an Exercise Program

Posted: Updated:

Many of you have probably talked about New Year's resolutions but have you acted on any of them yet?  Getting in better shape physically seems to top many lists year after year.  News 13 has helpful information to keep in mind to make the process easier in this Problem Solver.

It is a familiar scene for fitness clubs almost everywhere.  The first of the year is a great time to lose weight and get into better physical shape.  According to Michele Hartzog, Manager of Panama City Health Club, "As long as we get them properly trained and continue to monitor them and they feel comfortable with the facility...they usually continue to stay." 

Having a fitness partner can help you stay motivated.  Brittany Horne of Panama City says her husband makes the difference and, "Makes it easier because you encourage each other to keep going and do things you don't want to do.  On days I don't feel like going, he encourages me and days he doesn't feel like going…I encourage him."

However, before you sign a membership agreement follow these tips from the Better Business Bureau. 

  • Check with the BBB regarding fitness clubs in your area.  Find out what kind of track record fitness clubs in your area have at
  • Consider your budget and monthly cash flow. Most facilities charge an up-front membership fee to join and a monthly fee that is usually paid by automatic withdrawal from your checking account.
  • Check out the facilities. Visit several different clubs on days and at times that you plan to exercise to see how crowded they are.
  • Do not give in to sales pressure. Many clubs will be offering "New Year's specials" - walk away from clubs that pressure you to sign a contract on the spot. In fact, take a sample contract home to read it thoroughly.
  • Read the entire contract. Does it list all services and facilities and the hours of operation? Is everything that the salesperson promised in the contract? What is included in the monthly fee, and what will cost you extra? What is the total cost and payment schedule, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
  • Know the membership details. How long is the membership term and is there an automatic renewal? Can you go month-to-month? What are your cancellation rights if you move to another area, are injured, or the club closes or is taken over by new management? Get the cancellation policy and the refund policy in writing.