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Be smart regarding getting fit

With many Ontarians choosing to join a gym or fitness club at this time of year, here is a simple checklist to help you make smart choices and protect yourself:

•Do your research (make sure the gym’s equipment is new or in good condition, the location and hours of operation are convenient, and the club is clean).

•Consumers have a 10-day cooling off period after signing a gym membership contract to reconsider their decision.

•Do not sign up for more than a one-year membership (lifetime fitness club memberships are illegal in Ontario).

•Choose to pay monthly.

A gym must offer the option of paying fees in monthly instalments. That way, members will not lose more than a month’s payment if the club shuts down.

•Read the fine print.

Review the membership agreement carefully and ask questions before signing.

For example, is a fitness test required to join? Is there an extra cost for the test?

•If cancelling a gym membership, do it in writing (hand-deliver the cancellation letter or send it via registered mail to be certain the club has received it).

Helping Ontario consumers make informed choices is part of the McGuinty government’s commitment to educate, protect, and serve Ontarians by ensuring a fair and safe marketplace.

“Joining a fitness club is a great way for Ontario families to get fit, but we all want to be smart consumers and know our rights when shopping for a gym,” said Consumer Services minister Margarett Best.

In 2010, more than 5.3 million Canadians had a fitness club membership.

Last year, Canada had more than 6,200 operating fitness clubs.

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