If this is your year to take control of your weight and fitness, more power to you. Most likely, you’ll need a commitment to exercise regularly. The Better Business Bureau has tips to help you determine which gym or health club is the best place to keep you on track.

Make sure you’re healthy enough for an exercise program before you start. If you haven’t been active for a while, check with your doctor before starting anew.

Before you sign up at a local gym or fitness club, take time to investigate it. Every year, BBB receives numerous complaints about health clubs or gyms that closed abruptly or refused to cancel a contract or provide refunds. Other complaints included inadequate or sloppy maintenance of equipment or facilities.

BBB Business Profiles can help you check on the trustworthiness of fitness clubs and gyms as well as other businesses. The profiles, available at bbb.org, show whether a facility has any complaints and how the gym resolved them. You also can find out how long the facility has been in business, who owns it and a rating from A+ to F.

Take time to visit the facility before you sign a contract. Check locker rooms and workout areas for cleanliness. Are clean towels provided? Are there enough machines to permit everyone to use them, even at peak times such as early morning and after work? Are classes or personal trainers available to help you reach your goals?

Consider the hours and days the gym is open. Can you work out at times that fit your schedule? Is there adequate parking?

Read over any contracts, and understand terms and conditions. What happens if you move or decide that the club isn’t for you and you want to go elsewhere? If the gym closes, can you transfer your membership at another location?

Ask whether the cost will stay the same throughout the contract. Many gyms and fitness centers offer introductory rates at the beginning of the year, but regular rates kick in after a few months. Does the cost fit your budget? Does the gym bill you or require a credit card or bank account number to debit monthly? Are there late fees?

With a little effort, you should be able to find a fitness center that works for you and fits your budget.

Consumers can check out businesses and charities by going to bbb.org or by calling 417-380-5074.

The Better Business Bureau office in Springfield is at 2754 S. Campbell Ave. Among those counties served by BBB Springfield are Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Lawrence and Barton counties. Emails may be sent to sgarland@springfieldbbb.org. You can find a retailer’s BBB rating or read a BBB Business Profile by going online to www.bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.

Recommended for you