Canada: Overlooked Considerations To Keep In Mind When Joining A Gym

Last Updated: February 17 2017
Article by Eman Khoshbin

With all of the festive eating, snacking and drinking that comes with the holidays, it is easy to quickly lose track of your diet and health. It is no surprise that losing weight is one of the most common New Year's resolutions. We enthusiastically promise ourselves that the New Year will bring a new and improved version of ourselves.

If you have been keeping up with your fitness goals, then you should be proud of yourself. If you recently decided to quit the gym or facility that you were at or have not put your mind to joining one yet, it is never too late to make a positive change!

This article is the first of a series pertaining to things that should be kept in mind when joining a gym, studio or club, and general conduct while at the facility. This article will not focus on the typical considerations of cost, location, hours of operation, equipment, amenities and personalized vs. group fitness preferences. Rather, it will highlight some of the considerations that are often overlooked, particularly those that pertain to safety.

Consult Your Doctor

Prior to joining a gym, it is best to determine your fitness goals. This will help you choose the facility that is best for you. Once you have an idea of what you wish to accomplish, it is prudent to consult with your physician to discuss whether an exercise plan is something that you can take on, especially if you have a previous health condition.

After getting the green light from your physician, take the time to do your research before you choose the right facility for you. Go to the facility itself. Almost all fitness facilities allow potential new members to take a free tour.

What to Look For In Your Walk-Through

Use this chance to take a look at the amenities, equipment and common areas and see whether they look safe, clean and maintained. Ideally, you are looking for a place where the owner(s) and employees care about and are proud of the cleanliness and maintenance of the facility. Trust your instincts when looking around the facility. For example, there should not be any rust on any of the free weights or equipment. Rust not only poses a cutting or tetanus hazard, but may also indicate more significant structural integrity issues with the equipment.

During your tour, you can also see whether the end caps of dumbbells and barbells screw on correctly. If they do not, this can be dangerous as weighted plates can fall off while using them and potentially cause serious injuries.

A quick glance at the sauna, swimming pool, change rooms and hot tub could also help you in making your determination. For example, the change rooms should not have pools of water or loose dirt/mud on the floors. If lights are not working in areas where there is significant foot traffic, this is also a cause for concern.

Waiver of Liability

When the time comes for the salesperson's pitch and signing on the dotted line of the contract, do not feel overwhelmed by any high-pressure tactics. Make sure you take your time to read the whole contract. Sometimes, these contracts are double-sided. Important information can be on the backside as well. There will be a section in the contract that discusses "waiver of liability". This is essentially a clause that states that you understand there is an inherent degree of danger in exercising at the facility. As such, the facility will be asking you to forfeit your legal rights to sue them in the event that you get injured on the premises. It can be difficult to understand the legal terminology on the contract.

Ask any questions that come to mind about the words used in the contract as the salesperson is there to guide you through it and explain what the terms mean. It is very important that you understand the implications of this waiver of liability section. If you need to take additional time to go through the contract, the salesperson should provide it to you.

Finally, make sure that all of the promises that were made by the salesperson are in print as gym contracts often have a clause that states that any oral representation by any staff member is void unless it is included in the contract. Once you feel that you understand the entire contract and have no further questions, sign up and enjoy! In case you have second thoughts, some contracts have a "cooling off" period after you sign up which allows you to change your mind and cancel your membership without a penalty.

It takes discipline, determination and motivation to transform temporary promises to healthy habits, but it is possible! Fitness is a long-term goal that is worth sticking to.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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