Health Clubs Tips as Consumers Fulfill New Year’s Resolutions

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is announcing a statewide initiative in which his Bureau of Consumer Protection visited more than 75 health club facilities and investigated more than 100 health clubs throughout Pennsylvania and reviewed records of the facilities to ensure compliance with the Pennsylvania Health Club Act.

The initiative marks the first time a Pennsylvania Attorney General has used the Office’s authority under the Health Club Act to spot-check health clubs and immediately obtain documents relevant to compliance with the law. Examples of violations of the Health Club Act include taking upfront payment without first securing financial security, failing to register, or having defective contracts.

Among the issues reviewed included the appropriate registration and financial security with the Office of Attorney General under the Act, compliant contracts, frequency of payments, and associated fees. To date, this ongoing initiative has resulted in 43 settlement agreements, known as Assurances of Voluntary Compliance, and one lawsuit related to alleged violations. As a result of this effort, the Attorney General’s Office collected nearly $50,000 in penalties and costs.

Click here to view a list of the Pennsylvania health clubs that the Office has entered into settlement agreements with or taken legal action against.

“If a consumer is a member of any of these, or any other, health club and they don’t believe the club is delivering on its promises, we want to hear from you,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Call my Bureau of Consumer Protection to file a complaint and get help. We’ll make sure the club is following Pennsylvania law.”

The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection is also advising consumers to be aware that they have the right to cancel health club contracts in certain circumstances and under certain conditions, such as when a club closes for more than 30 days, when a consumer moves more than 25 miles from the health club or if the consumer suffers a verifiable injury. Also, any health club contract over three months can be canceled within three business days of signing it.

Additionally, the Attorney General is offering the following tips so consumers understand their legal rights:

  • Carefully read the contract before you sign. Take as much time as you need. Don’t give in to high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Compare several gyms in your area. Be certain the location, equipment, hours, staff and price best suit your needs.
  • Take advantage of tours and complimentary visits. Test out the equipment and experience the atmosphere before signing a contract.
  • Watch out for hidden fees and clauses. Some fitness centers may offer trial memberships that can have hidden fees in the fine print.
  • Get it in writing. Ensure that any contract over three months in length is in writing and gives the consumer a right to cancel within three days.
  • Check the club’s registration. If you are considering a long-term contract, check to make sure the club has registered with the Attorney General’s office by calling (717) 783-1992.

“When consumers decide to join a gym or a health club, they should be treated fairly, and all necessary disclosures required by law must be made to them,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Make smart, informed choices on your gym or health club, and we’re here to help protect you and your money. Happy New Year!”

Pennsylvanians who believe they have been the victim of a health club scam or disreputable business practices should contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint.