Like millions of newly resolute Americans, you may be entering into a very important legal contract this week: a gym membership contract.
It's the new year, and joining a gym to shed a few extra pounds may be at the top of your New Year's resolutions list.
But gym membership contracts can be very tricky, and may include many provisions that have nothing to do with how long the pool is open or the type of free weights they use. Instead, many gym contracts include legal fine print covering things like early cancellation fees and waivers of liability.
Here are three secrets of gym membership contracts you should be aware of:
Gym contracts are not unbreakable. You may have heard horror stories in the past: Your friend moved to a different town and had to pay through the nose to break his gym contract. However, just because your gym contract has an early termination clause, this does not mean you can't break your contract while avoiding penalties. Some arguments you can try include that the gym salesperson misrepresented the terms of the contract or that the terms are unconscionable. And if a medical reason prompted you to quit, you may be able to argue that it is now impossible for you to fulfill the contract, thereby cancelling it.
Lifetime memberships are not such a great deal. Think about how many items or services you actually use throughout your life. And then think again if that lifetime gym membership is really worth it. While the rates for a lifetime membership may be lower, the cancellation fees may be exorbitant (see above). Additionally, who's to say the gym will even be around throughout your life, or that life circumstances won't force you to move somewhere far away from our gym. In general, you don't want to be tied down to your gym for life.
Gym contracts are negotiable. Many gym salespersons are paid on commission and they may have flexibility when it comes to fees and terms. In fact, if you ask five different people at your gym how much they pay in rates, you may get five different answers. Keep this in mind as you consider joining a gym. Bargain for lower rates, and even bargain for more favorable terms.
Work out, reduce stress, and don't let a gym membership contract get you down. Know these secrets of gym contracts and you'll be in good shape, legally speaking, for 2013.