By the Better Business Bureau
As the pandemic continues and we welcome the new year, many people are thinking now is the time to work on getting into shape.
While some people are still uncomfortable in a gym setting, and with parts of New York state experiencing COVID restrictions, home gyms are becoming more popular.
Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York has advice on purchasing home fitness equipment:
√ Start with your fitness needs and goals. Any equipment you buy should match up with your objectives and interests – otherwise you may not use the equipment after the initial excitement wears off. If you have any existing health conditions, be sure to check with your doctor about what kind of exercises and equipment are safe for you to use.
√ Set a budget and see how much you can afford to spend on home gym equipment, factoring in the money you’ll save if you terminate your gym membership.
√ Measure your space carefully to see if a specific piece of equipment will fit. Don’t forget to measure any entryways the equipment must fit through to reach your home gym space as well.
√ Check BBB.org and read consumer reviews. Look up the company and retailer on BBB.org to see complaints and reviews. When reading reviews, pay close attention to any comments about the quality of the equipment and the experience with the retailer.
√ If possible, test equipment before you buy. Many brick and mortar stores have display equipment you can try before you make a purchase. Make sure you can operate and feel comfortable using any equipment you plan on adding to your home gym.
√ Compare prices between sporting goods stores and manufacturers. You may be able to find the same product for a lower price at a different store. You can also consider purchasing used equipment but proceed with caution. Most second-hand equipment is purchased “as-is,” and sales are often final with no option to return.
√ Understand delivery options. Find out how you will get the equipment from the store to your home. Read carefully or talk directly to a sales representative to find out how much shipping costs, what delivery fees you can expect to pay, and whether or not the delivery person will set up the equipment for you. Be mindful that many people are doing the same thing and that shipping may be delayed on more popular items.
√ Ask about fitness equipment returns, refund policies and warranties. New home gym equipment usually comes with a guarantee or warranty program, but some retailers may have altered these because of the pandemic. Find out if a retailer has a return policy, if refunds are available and how they are issued, what the return process is, who pays for return shipping, how much it costs for heavy gym equipment, and if you will be charged a restocking fee.
√ Understand any financing options before you agree and read the terms carefully. Find out how long the financing lasts, how much interest you will pay, and whether there is a fee to pay the balance in full early.
If you decide you want to join a gym, BBB has the following advice:
√ Determine your fitness goals/priorities. Is a convenient location with extended hours something that will help you stick to your fitness plan? Will a variety of equipment or classes keep you motivated? Determine your top priorities before you start shopping around.
√ Schedule a tour, ask for a free trial. Make sure the gym has the equipment, classes, and trainers you need. Observe their cleaning protocols and adherence to other state mandates.
√ Ask questions and make sure you understand all the rules. Ask about busy times, wait times for equipment, whether classes require preregistration, and if memberships can be canceled or paused if there is another zone restriction or pandemic-related issue.
√ Don’t feel coerced. Do not give in to high-pressure sales tactics to join right away. A reputable gym will give you enough time to read the contract thoroughly, tour the facilities, do some research, and make an informed decision.
√ Understand the terms. With the pandemic, a lot of gyms had to revisit standard contracts. Read the contract carefully before signing. Ask if the contract is subject to New York state executive orders on closures, etc. Make sure that all verbal promises made by management are in writing. Make sure you understand any refund and termination policies as well.
√ Check BBB.org. The vast majority of complaints against upstate New York gyms in 2020 are contract/billing issues. Read what previous customers have to say and see how businesses respond to complaints. This information may help you narrow down the list of gyms you consider.