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BBB: Signing up for a new gym membership for the new year? Read the fine print first

Before signing on the dotted line, here are a few things the Better Business Bureau suggests you do first so you don’t get wrapped into a contract you don’t agree to. 

Every New Year’s, hundreds of people make the resolution to lose weight and get in better shape.

During this time, it’s easy to be enticed to sign up for the first gym you see or visit.

Before signing on the dotted line, here are a few things the Better Business Bureau suggests you do first so you don’t get wrapped into a contract you don’t agree to. 

Example in Metro Vancouver

In December 2022, a North Vancouver customer shared a complaint directly to BBB about their experience with a popular local gym. 

According to their complaint, they signed a contract in March 2022, which included gym access and a personal trainer.

After trying to cancel in September due to a full-time student schedule, they were told that they would have to pay off the remaining balance of the membership, as they had signed up for a full year initially. 

The customer was surprised to find that out as they hadn’t read the contract in full detail. It was also discovered that the gym needed one month's notice that he was leaving, and was subject to pay a cancellation fee too. 

“This is one of several first-hand experiences we receive from frustrated gym customers across the province,” says Aaron Guillen, media and communications specialist with the BBB serving Mainland BC.

“These sorts of situations could be easily solved with a detailed review of your contract and remembering a few simple questions to ask before signing on the dotted line.” 

Here are the top five tips to look out for when choosing a gym membership:

  • Ask questions about limited free trials. Gyms often give anywhere from a one-day to a one-week pass for potential members. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members, but the price could go up more than you budgeted once the initial period is over. Make sure you understand what the regular monthly fees will be and what they include.
  • Understand what happens when you cancel. Many gyms draw in customers by offering lower monthly prices when signing up for a full year. Once you’re locked in, it can be very difficult to get out of that contract, as you may need a doctor's note saying you’re unfit to workout just to place the membership on pause. Keep in mind that if you want to leave your gym, some gyms also have a mandatory one-month cancellation notice policy written into the contract.
  • Take a tour. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes, and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or the availability of Wi-Fi. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require pre-registration, availability, and cost of personal trainers, etc. 
  • Make sure that all verbal promises are in writing. What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business? Will your membership be transferred to a new location automatically without your consent? Will the membership renew automatically at the end of the term? Clarify with the gym staff. 
  • Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. Several gyms waive the enrolment fee, on the condition that the customer signs up for a membership within the next 24 hours. There will always be rotating welcome offers on the table, and you will not be missing out if you do not sign up immediately. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision. 

For more advice and tips to get started on new year's resolutions, head to




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