ATLANTA — Attorney General Chris Carr is encouraging Georgians to do their research before joining a health spa.
“Many Georgians may be making regular exercise a New Year’s resolution this year,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “Joining a gym is a great way to stay in shape, but we want Georgians to do some homework before choosing a facility to help ensure their investment pays off.”
Keep these tips in mind:
- Ask friends, family members and co-workers where they work out and why.
- Look for one that's convenient — close to your job or home – so you don't have to make a special trip to work out.
- What are the annual and monthly fees? Are there additional fees for towels or mats? And does your membership cover guest passes at clubs in other cities?
- If you have a specific health problem, can the staff address it with the appropriate exercises? Do they have a first-aid plan for emergencies?
- At what times are classes and pieces of equipment most crowded?
- When signing an electronic contract, make sure you receive either a hard copy or electronic copy of the contract for your files.
In Georgia, health clubs are required by law to have contracts with their members; however, each individual entity can choose how long its contract lasts – from one month up to 36 months. Keep in mind that a shorter contract puts you at less risk in the event that you lose interest in your exercise regime or the organization goes out of business.
Make sure you get a written copy of the contract at the time you sign it and read it thoroughly. Under Georgia law, health clubs are required to include certain provisions in their membership contracts, including the length of the contract, the cost of the membership, the consumer’s right to cancel, an explanation of the cancellation process and the consumer’s rights and responsibilities in case of the onset of a physical disability or a significant change in the services offered by the health club.
You should also be aware that Georgia law allows a consumer to cancel a contract with a health club within seven business days for any reason. If a membership is canceled within that time period and in accordance with the terms in the contract, the health club should refund any payments made under the contract minus the fair market value of any services the consumer actually received (not to exceed $100).
After seven days have passed, you are bound to the terms of your contract, barring significant changes to your health or the offerings of the fitness center as mentioned above. If you wish to cancel your membership at that point, don’t just stop paying the monthly fee, as this could result in collection action being taken against you. Instead, contact the organization to let them know you wish to cancel your membership and see what options are available to you, if any. Should your signed contract fail to comply with the provisions required by law, you may legally cancel the agreement.
For more information about the legal requirements required of a health club, visit the Georgia Department of Law-Consumer Protection Division’s website at consumer.ga.gov.