Good for you! You've decided to shape up in the new year and get fit. By all means, trim that waist – but don't waste your money while you're at it. Fitness club memberships can pose problems for consumers. Choose your club carefully – ask questions and have a good look around. Dirty carpets and dingy washrooms spell trouble. Be wary of equipment that's "out of order." Visit the club during the hours you're likely to use it to be sure there's enough room for you, and make sure the club's schedule fits yours.


Above all, read the fine print in any contract. Make sure it includes all of the services you are expecting. Also, what do the fees include and how are they to be paid? Under Ontario's Consumer Protection Act, you have a 10-day cooling-off period during which you can cancel the contract. You don't need a reason to cancel.

By law, all new contracts are limited to one year, reducing members' losses if the club goes under. The law also prevents automatic membership renewal unless at least 30 days' notice has been given, along with the opportunity to refuse the renewal.

"Common problems include billing after a member has quit, poor service once a member is signed up and undisclosed fees," says Chris Ferguson, director of Ontario's Consumer Protection Branch. "All of these problems are addressed by consumer law." If a club won't fix such problems voluntarily, members should consider filing a complaint.

For more information about fitness clubs and your rights under the Consumer Protection Act go to or call 1-866-351-5655.

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