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What you should know before joining a gym this year

Ipswich residents looking to kickstart a healthier 2020 by taking out a new gym membership are being reminded of their rights under Australian Consumer Law.

Acting Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Dr Anthony Lynham said there were protections available to those joining a gym or fitness centre.

“If you’re looking for a healthier and more active start to 2020, give careful consideration to what you want out of a gym membership,” he said.

“By doing your research to see what’s on offer, you’ll be in a far better position to make an informed choice.

“Consider which gym has the facilities you’re more likely to benefit from, such as swimming pools, group classes or one-on-one personal training services.

“The fitness industry is regulated in Queensland, and gyms and other fitness suppliers must meet certain legal requirements.

“For example, before you sign up, you’re allowed to inspect the facilities.

“And be wary of advertising puffery, as gyms may not make false or misleading claims, including unrealistic weight loss goals.

“Advertising must be truthful, accurate and unambiguous.”

Dr Lynham said once a consumer has selected a gym to join, both parties must sign an agreement.

“This can be a fixed term or ongoing contract and this agreement is important, as it sets out your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of the gym or fitness club,” he said.

“All contracts also have a 48-hour cooling off period to provide peace of mind for those who may have second thoughts.

“The contract should detail all the applicable fees you have to pay, including ongoing membership costs and any one-off administrative charges, and clearly define what your rights are for ending the agreement.

“No one wants to get caught paying for a service they can no longer use because they’ve moved away or suffered from an injury.

“That’s why you can end an agreement any time in writing, however be aware the gym may charge you a cancellation fee.

“The details of this fee must also be set out in your contract.”

In 2019, Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading received over 150 complaints from consumers about gym memberships.

The most common issues included members being overcharged, being charged for a membership after termination, and other contractual disputes.

For more information on joining a gym, including the National Fitness Industry Code of Practice, or to make a complaint, visit www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading

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