Better Call Jackson: Don’t get trapped in a sticky gym contract

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The next three months will be the busiest of the year for local health clubs and gyms.  The idea of a membership as a gift for someone or the annual resolution to get in shape will pack fitness facilities.

Improving your health or toning up are good ideas but make sure you understand the agreement you enter in with a fitness facility.

Jim and Vera Poole from Newark contacted me after they were unable to get out of a what they thought was a gym contract.  The Pooles were faced with several unexpected personal issues and Jim’s health prevented the couple from going to the gym.

“I would think a small reimbursement would be appropriate,” said Jim Poole. Both are in their seventies and their calls to the facility didn’t get very far.

I spoke with the owner of the fitness facility and was told the Pooles paid for a full year, which is cheaper in the long run, compared to paying month to month. As a bonus for paying for a full year, the Poole’s were given a second year without charge, so there was not a two-year contract.

Perhaps this is something the Pooles might have figured out in the pages of fine print.

Brodie Butland is an attorney for health facilities around Ohio and says, in nearly all of the cases, the contracts are written in favor of the gym operators.

“It may be worth paying a few extra dollars a month if it means you can walk away from it at any time”, says Butland.

Typically, the only way to get out of a contract with a fitness facility is when you relocate more than 50 miles away, but again, you can find all of this in your agreement.

Sounds simple but Butland says, “read the contract and then,  ask if you have any questions, to try and figure it out.”