10 Jan 2010
So, you're thinking about joining a local gym, but don't know where to start? Here are some tips to help you on your way
* Shop around
Don't be pressured into signing up on the spot. Consider trying a casual membership for a month.
* Beware ''great deals''
… such as special offers, promotions and verbal promises. Some deals may not be as good as they seem.
* Read the fine print
Always take the contract home and read all terms and conditions before signing. Check the fees on the contract are what you were quoted, and check the administration fees for setting up or renewing your membership.
* Check the cooling-off period
This allows you to cancel the membership in writing within a limited period.
* Where will you be in 12 months?
The gym may not be easy to get to if you change jobs, work different hours or move house.
* Pre-paid fees
Fitness centres in NSW are not allowed to accept pre-paid fees in excess of 12 months.
* Direct debit
Just because your membership expires doesn't mean the direct debits stop. You often need to provide the gym with 30 days' written notice to stop the direct debit deductions.
If you need to cancel your membership, check your contract to see what is required and how much it will cost you.
* Fitness Australia
Check if the gym is a member of Fitness Australia (phone 1300 211 311 or see fitness.org.au). Members must comply with the NSW Fitness Code of Practice.
* If things go wrong
If the gym is a member of Fitness Australia it will help negotiate your dispute. If the gym is not a member of Fitness Australia or you cannot resolve the issue, phone the Office of Fair Trading on 133 220 or see fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.