Wow, can you believe it’s already a new year? Ready or not, 2018 is here and love them or hate them, so are New Year’s resolutions. Starting off a new year with a clean slate is a great time to start something new!

One of the most common resolutions is getting active. Whether that’s training for a marathon, starting boot camp or picking up a yoga class, joining a gym may be on your to-do list. And you wouldn’t be alone; January is notorious for a surge in gym activity.

In 2016, Northwest consumers turned to BBB Business Profiles approximately 16,000 times to look up health clubs, fitness center and gyms.

Before you sign on the dotted line, however, let’s do some warm-ups on what to look out for:

Figure out your priorities. What are your fitness goals? Is location and convenience important to you? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated?

Check bbb.org. BBB has business profiles on more than 15,000 health clubs, fitness centers and gyms. Read what previous customers have to say, and see how the businesses respond to complaints.

Take a tour and test it out. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes and trainers you need or expect. Pay attention to things that are important to you, whether it’s the cleanliness of the showers or number of machines. Ask about a free trial to see if the gym is a good fit for you.

Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision.

Calculate the true costs. Gyms often use special introductory offers to encourage new members to sign up, but the price could go up more than you budgeted. Find out if there are joining or annual fees involved.

Understand the terms. Read the contract carefully before signing. What happens if you move or the gym goes out of business? Will your membership renew automatically at the end of the term? Can you get out of the contract altogether and under what circumstances?

Once you’ve signed up, it’s time to hit the treadmill and make the best of the new year. It’s OK to take small steps toward your goal, whatever that may be. Happy New Year from your BBB!

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