Download this article as an audio podcast
Joining a health club or fitness center is the first step many people will take to accomplish this goal. Before you choose a health club, check out this information from the California Department of Consumer Affairs that is designed to help you pick out the club that is just right for you. Several factors should be taken into consideration when searching for a health club or fitness center to join.
Signing a Contract
When joining a health club or fitness center you are often asked to sign a contract. Before signing the contract, you should know that legally you have a right to cancel the contract by midnight of the fifth business day after you have signed it excluding Sundays and holidays. Also, the contract may not provide services for more than three years and be aware that lifetime contacts are unlawful.
If you move away from the club a distance more than 25 miles and the health club is unable to transfer the contract to a comparable facility, you are entitled to a refund for services that were not used, minus a cancellation fee. This cancellation fee must be noted in the contract. For more information, read the California laws that govern moves and transferability.
For more detailed legal information concerning health club contracts, read this legal guide published by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the California laws that govern health club contracts.
When Your Health Club Closes
If your health club closes and does not offer comparable service at a location that is equally convenient to you or fails to open after you have already signed a contract, you are entitled to stop making your regular payments. If payments are being deducted automatically from a checking or savings account, as is typically the case when you have an installment payment plan, you should contact the financial institution to stop payment immediately. Read this legal guide form the California Department of Consumer Affairs for more detailed information on what you can do when your health club closes.
If You Have a Problem
If you are having problems with the health club, first an attempt to resolve the problem with the manager or owner should be made. If these attempts are unsuccessful there are several options available. A complaint can be filed at the local Better Business Bureau office or directly at the California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General, Public Inquiry Unit, either online or by phone at (800) 322-3360, and you can file a complaint online at the California Department of Consumer Affairs
By Robyn Moltzen, Public Services Librarian
Links for "Health Clubs"
California Department of Consumer Affairs: Which Health Club Plan is the Right One for You?
California's Health Studio Services Contract Law: Civil Code §§ 1812.80-1812.97
California Department of Consumer Affairs: Overview of California's Health Studio Services Contract Law: Legal Guide W-10
California Department of Consumer Affairs: When Your Club Closes http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/legal_guides/w-9.shtml