Since some of us will be looking to get in shape starting the new year, Better Business Bureau is ringing in 2022 with tips on how to work toward your fitness goals without cutting back on trust. The desire to drop weight fast increases the risk of being deceived by products or memberships that do not work as advertised.
It's important to have a solid understanding of how to lose weight in a healthy manner. What works for one person may not work for others. Build long-term habits to achieve sustainable results. In other words, ease yourself into a weight loss plan that best fits your needs.
Before investing in any trendy fitness programs or dietary supplements, Better Business Bureau recommends the following:
• Be skeptical of any "miracle" claims for weight loss. There is no such thing as a "secret ingredient" or "breakthrough formula" that can result in weight loss virtually overnight. So, be suspicious of products promising miraculous results without diet or exercise. Ask your doctor what an achievable weight loss goal would be. If you come across an advertisement you feel is especially deceptive, report it to BBB.org/AdTruth.
• Be wary of free trial offers and review the fine print before signing up. Many consumer complaints describe weight loss programs as difficult to cancel, even if the product did not work as claimed. Consumers reported believing that they were making a one-time transaction, but instead received recurring charges to their credit cards. When they contacted customer service, they were informed that they had signed up for a subscription, which was only disclosed in the fine print of the terms and conditions of their original purchase.
• Take your time selecting a gym or fitness program. Many gyms offer free trial passes for prospective clients to test and tour their facilities. If you are unsure whether you'd prefer an independent setting at your own pace or a team-oriented program with a class structure, this is the time to explore your options. Gyms are vastly different when it comes to their pricing, policies, branding and target demographics — take the time to compare these options.
• Understand the terms and conditions of the fitness program. Many fitness programs offer low sign-up fees if you commit to a longer contract term, but the price could exceed what you budgeted once the initial trial-period ends. While the initial price may seem like a deal you can't pass up, make sure you understand the total costs of the service in the long run. Take a second to determine whether you prefer a monthly membership with more flexibility. Be sure to understand all the charges associated with the plan including any cancellation fees, late fees, or annual membership fees.
• Utilize BBB as a resource. Look up the company on BBB.org before making a purchase. BBB's website has individual business profiles disclosing whether the company is BBB Accredited, its letter ratings, potential consumer alerts, detailed customer complaints, and information on how the business is responding to concerns. Taking that additional step will give you a better idea of the company's reputation. If any issues arise, you can also submit a complaint and seek a resolution.
For more consumer tips, visit trust-bbb.org.
Keylen Villagrana is content and PR specialist for the Better Business Bureau Great West + Pacific.
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