It's sad that we live in a society where money is perceived as being more important than people.
I was a member of Future Fitness (known as Planet Fitness when I joined) for more than 7 years. They paint a pretty picture when you arrive for your sales presentation, which by the way, eats up 2 hours of your time. They promise everything from nutrition experts to personal trainers, from free classes to nurse checkups, and it's all true - except, the availability of those services is quite limited, sometimes unavailable for several weeks, even though they tell you the membership is "selective."
If you attempt to exercise during their peak hours (7-10 am and 5-8 pm), GOOD LUCK! The gym is extremely overcrowded, you have to wait to use equipment, and you must race the crowd to the more popular exercise classes. Their claim of "selective membership" is false. They will ask you at your initial sales presentation if you are willing to use the gym at least 3 times each week because they "only want serious members." Of course, everyone says yes - 3 times a week for exercise is something just about anyone can commit to. So, their memberships are in the TENS OF THOUSANDS, and it certainly shows during their peak times.
Also, as far as cost goes, at some point in the presentation, after they've dazzled you with all they have to offer and you say the magic consumer words "I have to think about it" they will tell you if you "sign up today, you will get $300 off your yearly membership dues." Which is a COMPLETE SCAM because they have a tiered payment system and the $300 discount doesn't even exist. Basically, it's like a car or mortgage payment: the more you "put down" when you sign up, the lower your monthly fees will be. Again, bad business practice. Everyone should have the same fees. It should not be a tiered system to get more money from some people up front, while the rest of the people pay over time. Furthermore, if you leave that day without signing up they tell you that your $300 discount voucher will be void because they will keep your name on file. That's not true at all, they don't keep your name on file, I've seen them throw the paperwork away after a prospective member leaves without joining.
When you try to schedule a meeting with your "free personal trainer" there is usually a long wait. In my experience, the shortest amount of time I had to wait to see a trainer was 2 weeks. I could've seen a trainer sooner - that is, if I was willing to meet my trainer at 9:30 that night, or 5:30 in the morning the next day. How many people can exercise that late or that early?
Furthermore, when I finally did meet with a trainer for the first time, I told her that I had problems with my knees and shoulders and I would rather not do overhead exercises or lunges. After our consultation and when we got out to the exercise floor, guess what the first two exercises my trainer tells me to do? Lunges and overhead raises! Obviously I switched trainers, but her lack of attention to my personal needs was a complete turn off.
At the time of contract signing, I was also promised that should my attendance lapse, for example, if I hadn't checked in to the gym in more than a month, my personal trainer or the nurse would call me to make sure I was okay. NOT ONCE DID MY PERSONAL TRAINER OR THE NURSE CALL ME. And there were several periods of time when my attendance lapsed for much more than a month.
The locker rooms are at best, "okay" when it comes to cleanliness. I had complained many times about the balls of hair in the sinks and shower drains, the unusually foul odor in the locker room, not to mention that I noticed PIECES OF SNOT wiped on the walls of some of the changing rooms. My complaints were never acknowledged, nor were the unsanitary conditions addressed. I was always worried I would contract some weird infection - which is why I stopped showering there. What an inconvenience.
Finally, the time came to cancel my membership. My husband and I were both members and had come to some financially difficult times. We decided that a $74 PER MONTH payment for a gym membership was something we could eliminate to help our finances. Additionally, we had moved quite far away from the gym recently, and our office where we worked had also moved. We were not even traveling in the area anymore, so going to the gym was even more inconvenient now. I already knew about the 90-day cancellation policy (you must give 90 days notice that you want to cancel, you must cancel in person at the location in which you signed up, and they will continue to charge your credit card for those 90 days - even if you never use the facility again). I knew about this cancellation policy because my husband and I are in the habit of reading fine print. However, since my financial situation at the time wasn't looking too good, and my home and office were both located far away from the gym, I thought I could plead sympathy from the manager and waive the 90 days of fees.
I've NEVER had to negotiate more than when I had to cancel my gym membership. The manager who I met with to cancel, Mike, was pleasant at first. He said he had no problem with my cancellation, but asked if I was aware of the 90-day cancellation policy. I said that I was aware, but began to tell him about my hardship situation. He didn't want to hear any of it. He said he was "sorry to hear [I] was having financial troubles, but that's not [his] problem." I even asked him if he would be willing to negotiate the 90 days, perhaps only charge me for 30 or 60 days. He said "a contract is a contract." While that is true, and I know that a contract is binding, I was pleading for him to "just be a fellow human being" and make an exeption.
HE WAS COLD AND UNCARING. HE SAID, "IF WE MAKE AN EXCEPTION FOR YOU, WE'LL HAVE TO MAKE AN EXCEPTION FOR EVERYONE, AND THAT'S NOT GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE." Perhaps, then, Future Fitness should rethink their business practices? Maybe a 90-day cancellation policy is a BAD idea?
It didn't matter what I said to him, even when I told him the money I would save on a gym membership would help me buy groceries, or help me have enough money to pay my mortgage. He just didn't care. It seems that 90 days worth of dues is more important to this business than future business or referral business. I will never join this club again, or refer anyone to it.
FINALLY, when I was on the verge of tears and threatening to report to the BBB and the local newspaper, he pulled up my membership profile and said, "Wait a minute, let me see what I can do. Maybe we can work something out."
Magically, because I had signed up during a certain "pre-sale period" (of which I was unaware) he could waive the 90-day cancellation policy and make it only a 30-day cancellation. Isn't that AMAZING? Suddenly, that "rock solid contract" wasn't so solid anymore. Wow.
I left Future Fitness with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't have to pay the 90 days worth of dues, but I still had to pay for another month. Sure, Future Fitness helped me get in shape and taught me good fitness and nutrition practices. I am happy about that. But, fitness and nutrition are things anyone can learn without a gym membership.
If you're thinking of joining Future Fitness, you may want to reconsider. Read the fine print of the contract, any contract for that matter, and get everything in writing. You could probably save yourself quite a bit of hassle if you go to another gym, although you should be sure to read the fine print there, too!
And if you're thinking of cancelling your membership with Future Fitness, and you don't want to, or can't pay the 90-day cancellation fee, get ready for a fight. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate - and don't leave without a copy of your membership cancellation form completely signed and dated!
Burlington, New Jersey