How to Protect Yourself: Health Studios
Source: The Florida Attorney General's Office
Joining a health club usually involves signing a membership contract and paying dues and fees. In the past, some studios went out of business after collecting thousands of dollars in prepaid membership dues. Now, Florida law requires most health studios to register with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and to post a bond for a limited time. This bond can be used to repay consumers whose health studios go out of business and do not provide an alternate facility of equal quality within 5 driving miles.
Health studios must post prominently at the registration or front desk their proof of registration certificate provided by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and include the registration number in all printed advertisements, contracts and publications.If long-term memberships are offered, the contract must contain the following:
- disclosure that the contract can be cancelled by giving written notice within 3 business days, excluding weekends and legal holidays;
- a provision that if a member dies or becomes physically unable to use the facility, the contract can be cancelled and a refund issued for the unused time;
- disclosure that the contract may not obligate the consumer for a period longer than 3 years, although it may provide for annual renewal;
- if the studio is not required to post a bond, the contract must include a disclosure statement advising the buyer of that fact and of the risks of paying for more than 1 month in advance.
- to determine whether a health club is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, or whether any complaints have been filed against the business, call 1-800-HELP-FLA or (850)488-2221.