ARLINGTON, VA -- The number of complaints received by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for fitness clubs has increased more than 90 percent in the last five years, according to a recent BBB study.

The most common complaints consumers have about fitness clubs focus on contract disputes (41.5 percent) and billing issues (31.7 percent). The majority of billing complaints center on being billed after the member felt his or her contract had expired. Many consumers either assumed their contract would not be renewed or filed the appropriate paperwork to cancel their membership but continued to have fees withdrawn from their bank accounts. Most of the contract dispute complaints involve disagreements over promises made by the salesperson as opposed to what the membership actually included.

More than 15 percent of complaints came from consumers whose fitness center either closed up completely or changed management shortly after they joined. The complainants typically wanted refunds for membership fees paid in advance or were dissatisfied with the new ownership and policies and wanted out of their contract.

“The trends we’re seeing in complaints against fitness clubs tells us that consumers need to read the fine print on the contract before they sign and keep a close eye on their bank statements to make sure they’re not getting billed more than they should be,” says Steve Cox, spokesperson for the BBB.