Beware of January Fitness Center
Problems and Weight-Reduction Scams
January is when the largest numbers of consumers
sign up for fitness centers and explore how to lose weight.
December’s holiday parties drive our urge, of course.
But don’t fall victim to fitness-center and diet-plan
misrepresentations, because they will not only cost you money,
but they also will likely rob you of your interest in getting
and staying in shape.
Each year, Consumer Protection officials receive
numerous complaints about fitness centers—charging more
than was represented, having smaller or less available facilities
than represented, or attempting to lock consumers into contracts
for more than two years. Furthermore, several large fitness
centers unexpectedly closed during the past few years in southeast
and northeast Wisconsin after consumers had paid their fees.
What should you do to make the right fitness center choice?
First, don’t get swept up into the center’s atmosphere
and the idea of a “new you” when making this decision.
Some consumers enthusiastically sign up for long-term contracts
and then find they rarely visit the center after the first few
times because they lose interest or the center is too difficult
to visit due to its location or hours of operation. Therefore,
check out several fitness centers at different hours of the
day. Are the center and your desired exercise machines crowded?
Will the center work within your, or your family’s, routine?
Are there any equipment or time restrictions on your membership?
Would a monthly contract work better than a two-year contract
because you haven’t stuck with your new exercise routine
in the past?
Next, find out what services and equipment are included in your
monthly contract price. What is the expertise and training of
personal trainers? Is the center clean? What is the cancellation
policy? And find out whether complaints about the center have
been filed with Consumer Protection (1-888-422-7128).
The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down
on fraudulent weight-reduction plans we Americans spend many
millions—if not billions—of dollars on each year.
A recent FTC study determined 55 percent of the ads made at
least one representation “that is almost certainly false.”
You know the ads: they say they are based on a “breakthrough”
or “revolutionary new formula,” allow you to “continue
eating what you want to eat,” do not require exercise,
and are “guaranteed to work or your money back.”
If you see or hear these items in the advertising, watch out!
As noted by U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, “there
is no such thing as a miracle pill for weight loss.” The
only thing you will lose is your money.