BBB offers tips on gym memberships and weight loss gimmicks

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gymST. LOUIS, Mo. – Chances are you might have gained a pound or two over the holidays and are trying to keep that resolution to lose it.

Last year, the Better Business Bureau received 6,500 complaints about gyms nationwide. Many were about centers that suddenly closed or wouldn’t refund unhappy customers. The best way to protect your money is to pay with a credit card on a monthly basis.

“You get those added protections a credit card can provide you,” Chris Thetford with the BBB said. “You can always challenge those protections if the gym does close or something happens that makes you not want to take advantage of that membership any longer.

The BBB also received 4,600 complaints about weight control services and diet products. Many include never receiving the products or false advertising.

Included below are other tips from the BBB:

  • Avoid products that claim to help you lose weight without diet or exercise. Doctors, dieticians and other experts agree that losing weight takes work. Pass up any product that promises miraculous results without any effort.
  • Be skeptical of claims that you don’t have to give up favorite foods or reduce the amount you consume.  Try filling up on healthy vegetables and fruits so you can resist high-calorie treats. However, eliminating all your favorites could set you up to fail. It’s better to limit portion size or how frequently you indulge.
  • Determine your fitness goals. It’s hard work to lose weight, and you need to find a program you can stick with, and preferably one that you enjoy. Find a health club or exercise facility that is convenient and that offers times that fit your schedule.
  • Visit the facility before joining. Check on cleanliness, adequacy of space, machines and instructors and any other factors important to you. Ask if you can try the facility out before you join.
  • Consider your budget. Ask the health club about “joining” or enrollment fees and ongoing monthly costs. Does a weight loss plan require you to buy special foods? Can you cancel if you move or find that the program doesn’t meet your needs? If the facility closes, can you transfer your membership to another facility?
  • Read the entire contract. Does it list all services and facilities and hours of operation? Is everything the salesperson promised included in the contract? What’s included in the monthly fee and what will cost you extra? What is the total cost, including enrollment fees and finance charges?
  • Check with the BBB first. Anyone can check a company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org. Reviews include the firm’s complaint history and whether the complaints were resolved.

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